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Opinions of Monday, 25 January 2016

Columnist: Kwarteng, Francis

Corruption In The Judiciary & Parliament: The Way Forward 1

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No matter what the public and certain privileged personalities might want to say about Anas Aremeyaw Anas and Martin Amidu and their work exposing political corruption and other criminal activities conducted in the name of the state, these two are no doubt priceless national assets. More so, we may not all necessarily agree with them about their social philosophies and modus operandi but their activism, operational sensibility, and moral credibility put the spotlight on the political mechanics of public corruption in a way that is not, perhaps, clearly defined in the Ghanaian national character. They have done this at great risks to their persons, notwithstanding the financial implications for Anas in particular. Actually, Anas’ exposé did not offer anything new beyond what was already in the public except, perhaps, the undeniable strength of his forensic evidence.

Anas work is important to us to the extent that we deeply felt his detractors were taking questions of entrapment, ethics, affirmative defense, and criminal liability to a certain sanctimonious height of moral, political, and constitutional pedanticism where his forensic methods came under scrutiny and criticism, thus threatening the work, his person and employees, including opening up new avenues for the affirmative defense of persons caught in his investigative dragnet. Many of these questions were quite legitimate, no doubt. From our standpoint, however, we looked closely at the work in terms of its potential for radical judicial reforms and its larger implications for reforms in other bureaucracies and Ghanaian society as a whole. It was naturally a rational cost-benefit political analysis on our part.

As a matter of emphasis, it was in this context that we felt the highly politicized din over and possible misunderstanding of his methods and timing of investigational exposé stood a great chance of defeating the long-awaited purpose of judicial reforms.

On the other hand, the pervasiveness of and popular lackadaisical attitude toward the fight against corruption in the body politic may have eventually simultaneously underwritten its own entrenchment in the community psychology of the Ghanaian national personality. It appears corruption in Ghana has no specialized niche in terms of phenotypic characterization. We may therefore hazard that corruption as a social cancer is somewhat intrinsic to the Ghanaian nature. Its effective management has been operationally problematic on several levels given its metastasis in the social body of public psychology.

It sometimes helps that public psychology is a well-known constitution of individuating clades of persons with possible confused or conflicting suits of material and moral choices silhouetted against the indicting template of collective responsibility. That sets the complex coordinates of corruptibility within the mortal parameters of personalized responsibility and preferences. Tackling corruption should therefore start at the personal level, though, as a matter fact, it also is a function of groupthink, with its diversified operational universality notwithstanding. But the individual is a convoluted island hemmed in by an ocean of humanity with similar claims of material and moral preferences, some less, others more.

We may have to add that the economic basis of mortal corruptibility as it pertains to material and moral preferences is clear. We are talking about unfettered greed for material satiation and possession and self-aggrandizing predispositions. There is also no question as to the biologic basis of these claims. Mortal preferences for survival, physical and otherwise, is an intrinsic quantity in the genetic geometry of human constitution. We see patent biologic expressions of mortal survival in the genetic perpetuation of human nature. This is not to come across as making far-ranging neurobiological claims for criminality and corruptibility, though one study links ingestion of the heavy metal, lead, to incidents of mortal criminality.

Again, this is not to say Ghanaians go about ingesting lead. Our contentions are rather far from this conceptual oversimplication of the root causes of corruption and of other human foibles. The point is that the social epidemiology of corruption is such a complicated phenomenon as to make for a manageable canker with ready if accurate political and moral prognosis. Also, the commodification of justice and lack of enforceable teachable precedents for effectively tackling official or public criminality in its material and metaphysical rawness, regrettably, are such that what should have been clear-cut technical judicial knock-outs or masculinized pugilistic verdicts against the social evil of corruption become mere politicized pugilistic feints instead.

The social metastasis of corruption therefore assumes popular metaphysical currency in the body politic.

There is an interesting twist to the moral, political, and judicial contestation of corruption in the body politic, however. This arises from the proverbial marriage of convenience between the executive presidency and party loyalty. It turns out the executive presidency also has had a parliamentary majority in the dubious democratic practice of the Fourth Republic and therefore party loyalty becomes a high-end political currency of rational choice in the non-competitive execution of the national interest. Political corruption, thus, becomes a feasible corollary of seeming natural convenience in this adaptation of Orwellian political psychology to the national enterprise. Or to corporate statism. This peculiar Orwellian political psychology feeds on the sanctimonious marriage of convenience between the Ministry of Justice and Attorney General’s Department.

Unfortunately, calls for an independent prosecutor, although “independent” is a rare commodity in the political inventory of the country’s dubious democratic practice, in place of the splitting apart or dissolving of the Ministry of Justice and Attorney General’s Department have failed to even incur the moral expenditure of righteous indignation and popular angst judicial corruption. In other words, the idea that criminal offences are prosecuted at the suit of the Attorney-General who also doubles as a Minister of State on behalf of the state, potentially dissolves the virtual wall of independence between the office of the executive presidency and the office of the Attorney-General, where social instantiation of official criminality borders on quanta of political friction between public opinion, civil and moral courage on the one hand and party loyalty and executive privilege and prerogatives on the other.

Further, the fact that the Attorney-General as a Minister of State is also the chief legal advisor to the government of the Republic of Ghana raises the important question as to whether independence for that matter should, and could indeed, be viewed exclusively as a feasible relational quantity insofar as democratic practice. After all, the political concept of independence is merely a theoretical construct with a purposive agency in negotiating seeming functional overlaps among the three interlocking branches of government. Independence is, thus, a virtual purposive agency for that matter. That is, purposive agency has a nominal character lacking the concrete personality of enforceable precedence in metaphysical, and even in material, expressions. Aside that, virtual reality assumes a salient concomitant feature of Machiavellian proportions in the normative symptom complex of purposive agency.

Purposive agency therefore constitutes a convenient model of theoretical deception of the highest order, with serious moral and political implications for the philosophical sanctity of the supposed bureaucratic balkanization of the three branches of government. For instance, the executive presidency nominates persons for judgeship considerations and parliament vets them accordingly for available positions. Partisan ideological loyalty and sympathies therefore play a major role in judicial appointments and assignments.

Sometimes the party or partisan affiliation of nominees is not clear in the vetting process and even if it is, the question is conveniently brushed under the carpet of subtle politicization of the idea of partisan advantage in numerical terms or swallowed up in the partisan waves of party loyalty. And then there is also the case of MPs who are also Ministers of State and of the complex issue of the conflict of interest in the execution of the public and national interest. The recent controversial gifting of a school complex (with its expensive internal assets) and of an undisclosed amount by the Chinese Ambassador to Ghana, Ms. Sun Baohong, to Ms. Hanna Tetteh, Ghana’s Foreign Minister and MP for the Awutu Senya West Constituency, is a case in point. No matter the reasons given for the gifts, Ms. Tetteh’s acceptance of them in and of itself gives an appearance of impropriety.

By the way, being a Minister of State and a Member of Parliament can contribute to bureaucratic corruption, psycho-physical exhaustion, and low productivity.

We shall return…

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