You are here: HomeWallOpinionsArticles2017 05 01Article 533815

Opinions of Monday, 1 May 2017

Columnist: Kwaku Badu

Has Mahama ruined the return of Mahama?

I do not wish to find myself in the camp of those who harbour a fallacious view that highly qualified family members and friends of the elected president of the country must not and cannot hold positions in government.

Let us however be blunt, and rightly so, for our democracy to function optimally, political appointments and contracts offers must be based on merits, but not through vague coloration, nepotism and cronyism.

“Since the beginning of democracy in America, nepotism, or preferential treatment towards family members and friends, has been present in politics. A prime example is President Kennedy who appointed his brother, Robert, as Attorney General.

“This trend of electing family members of past presidents has continued on and is now very applicable to what is happening in today’s political climate.

“But just because it is common does not mean it should continue to be condoned” (The Voice 2017).

Let us admit it, though, the presence of nepotism and cronyism in governance set up is never a serious violation, as a matter of fact.

Having said that, in as much as the conduct does not constitute a serious crime, Article 7 of the UN Convention against Corruption acknowledges selection by merit without even mentioning nepotism and cronyism.

It would, however, appear that an official who persistently hires a relative (nepotism) or a friend (cronyism), does so, in exchange, not often of a bribe, but of the less tangible benefit of advancing the interests of others connected to the official.

I will, however, venture to pontificate that a leader who chooses to surround himself/herself with friends and families does so at his/her own peril.

Indeed, all the available evidence shows that some friends and family members of people in high positions often take advantage of the system.

Take, for example, in recent times, the controversial South Korean president, Park Geun-hye, found herself in a wide-ranging corruption and cronyism scandal, which culminated in her removal from office in March 2017.

“President Park Geun-hye and her long- time confidante, Choi Soon-sil, were accused of conspiring to pressure companies, including Samsung, to donate large sums of money to two non-profit foundations set up by Choi.

“Choi was accused of using the money for personal gain, which she denied. However President Park admitted behaving “naively”, but denied coercing companies.

“President Park was also accused of giving Choi an unlawful access to state affairs and and allowing her to influence policy, including Seoul’s stance on North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme” (The Guardian 2017).

Likewise, in Ghana, the political career of our former President John Mahama is somehow being dashed by some members of his family, most notably, his brother and businessman, Ibrahim Mahama.

Apparently, it is being reported that the businessman and the brother of former President John Mahama, Ibrahim Mahama, is being sued by the SSNIT for unpaid workers’ social security contributions.

According to The SSNIT, Ibrahim Mahama’s company, Engineers and Planners, refused to pay SSNIT contributions of employees for the periods February 2015 to July 2015 and June 2016 to October 2016.

The SSNIT contends that the unpaid contributions amounted to about 700,000 cedis, and the substantive amount has attracted a penalty of 400,000 cedis, which brings the total indebtedness to SSNIT to about one million Ghana cedis (See: Ibrahim Mahama sued for not paying workers’ SSNIT contributions; cityfmonline.com/starrfmonline.com, 29/04/2017).

“The suit is coming days after he was dragged to the Economic Organised Crime Office (EOCO) to be interrogated on accusations of financial malfeasance, after which he was ordered to pay some GHC 12 million.

“The EOCO interrogation had to do with allegations that the brother of former President John Mahama, had issued 44 dud cheques to the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) as payment of duties at the port.

“The cheques were to offset debts incurred by two companies – MBG Limited and Holman Brothers – for the clearance of some heavy duty equipment at the Tema Port in 2015” (cityfmonline.com, 29/04/2017).

In Ghana, it seems that the justice net only catches the emaciated cats , while the fat ones often go through with a little sweat.

Somehow, the justice system tends to descend heavily on goat, cassava and plantain thieves, and more often than not, let go the hard criminals who hide behind narrow political colorations.

Indeed, reported cases of political criminals misdeeds often leave concerned Ghanaians with a glint of incredulity and suspicion.

Apparently, when it comes to the prosecutions of the political criminals, we are often made to believe: “the wheels of justice turn slowly, but it will grind exceedingly fine.”

Yet we can disappointingly pinpoint a lot of unresolved alleged criminal cases involving some political personalities.

Isn’t it therefore puzzling that individuals could form an alliance, create, loot and share gargantuan sums of money belonging to the state and would then slip through the justice net?

I will venture to state that there is no cynosure of deterrence for political criminals. If that was not the case, how come some political criminals always go through the justice net?

Well, for argument sake, let us agree that some of the cases are mere allegations devoid of admissible evidence. But what about the individuals who were cited in the scandals such as SUBA, SADA, GYEEDA, Brazil World Cup, Bus Branding and many others?

Let us face it, corruption is a serious economic, social, political and moral impediment to the nation building and as such corrupt officials must be held accountable at all times.

Apparently, corruption is found in all countries—big and small, rich and poor—but it is in the developing world that its effects are most destructive.

Going forward, we must not and cannot use the justice net to catch only plantain, goat and cassava thieves, but we must rather spread the justice net wide to cover the hard criminals disguised in political clothing.

As for former President Mahama, he does not have my sympathy, because he woefully failed to counsel his family members about the ramifications of their actions and inactions.

You may believe it or not, Ibrahim Mahama’s alleged infractions will have dire consequences on former President Mahama’s 2020 comeback.

K. Badu, UK.