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Opinions of Friday, 5 May 2006

Columnist: Adu-Asare, Yaw

Institutional Sources of Nurturing Corruption in Ghana

Given the classic definition of corruption, there is often an assumption of individual actors as primary culprits. However, in Ghana some public institutions have become the sources for sowing and nurturing corruption, hence the fear that the phenomenon would remain more entrenched unless there is a sort of social revolution against it.

Corruption as the phenomenon whereby an individual public officeholder uses the position for personal gain has received universal acceptance. The least expected social institutions that sow and nurture corruption in Ghana include churches, education sector, public examinations process, political parties and the media of mass communications outfits.

Across the broad spectrum of Christian denominations that dominate religion in Ghana, there is a view that churches contribute to the nurturing and spread of corruption.

Mr. Dan Markin, a prominent official of the Progressive Alliance suggested in 2002 that ?prosperity doctrine,? which has become the cornerstone of liturgy of religious bodies in Ghana, ?contributed significantly to the worsening levels of corruption in the country,? according to a news source.

Markin asked a group of pastors of the Church of Christ: ?Where is the spiritual upliftment and physical development that the churches are supposed to provide, since some pastors even go to the extent of seducing unsuspecting young females and married women and encourage members to spend hours on end praying in their churches, instead of engaging themselves in some productive ventures to earn a living??

Quite interestingly, an official of the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) saw a linkage between examination malpractices, on one side and financial malfeasance as well as other forms of corruption in government and private organizations, on the other. The examinations official noted that students who stole their way to higher offices through examination malpractices would not find it difficult to engage in corrupt practices when employed. WAEC is an agency that organizes second cycle educational examinations in Ghana. The vice chancellor of the University of Cape Coast, in 2003, condemned the collection of bribes by headmasters of senior secondary schools in Ghana from parents before admitting their children.

These sentiments support this writer?s conclusion that conditions associated with the education sector in Ghana provide the training ground for proliferation of acts of corruption.

Recent incidence of selling and buying of examination questions on the campus of Ghana?s premier university, the University of Ghana, illustrated the fear of nurturing corruption at that level of education. There is a likelihood that graduates from that university could infect the public and private institutions where they could start as mid-level managers.

Besides corruption for personal economic or financial gain, corruption for private political gains is rampant also in Ghana. Acts of political corruption include ??private organizations providing resources to political parties, candidates and elected officials as a means of gaining political favor,? according to a news source.

There is a view in Ghana that the media of mass communications did not play independent and critical role in election campaigns and in the broader political processes. There is a view also that the various political parties did not have equal and adequate access to state-owned media outlets. According to some active Ghanaian elite, the lapses and omissions of the press and other media of communications undermined Ghana?s democratic processes and the rule of law.

By far, there is overwhelming consensus among Ghanaians in linking intense systemic corruption in their country to low remuneration and poor conditions of service for all workers.

In 2003, the parliamentary minority leader, Mr. Alban Bagbin, observed that the low rate of minimum wage in Ghana created room for rampant corruption because it pushed workers to find crooked means by which they can get enough money to take adequate care of their families.

A minister of the Baptist Church told reporters in December 2003, that bribery, corruption and immorality in Ghana ?? would be drastically reduced to the minimum if Church leaders lived above reproach and also held their members accountable for the vices. He therefore called on pastors and church leaders to be bold and speak out against corrupt practices even if that meant members leaving the church.?

A Catholic archbishop told his congregation, ?Ghanaians had intolerably allowed bribery and corruption to creep into the social fabric, which had continued to retard the nation?s development.? He asked Christians to help the government fight corruption and to make the policy of zero tolerance for corruption a reality.

With 49% illiteracy rate, the elite Ghanaians lucky enough to have public jobs came from the 51% of the population with formal education. It was a portion of that crop of privileged citizens with the benefit of formal education and access to public employment that dominated acts of corruption in Ghana.

With all these said and done, without let up in the raging corruption in Ghana, the question remains as to what society needs to do collectively for positive change.

A prominent Ghanaian church minister suggested in 2001 the preaching of anti-corruption messages in homes, schools, workplaces in both rural and urban areas as a means of changing the attitude of the people towards corruption.

In 2002, a Ghanaian technocrat suggested that people must be paid livable wages and frontline agencies such as the police and judicial service should be provided with adequate logistic support for better policing and timely exposure of offenders. Dr. Ken Agyemang-Attafuah reminded Ghanaians ??nepotism, favoritism, abuse of public office and fictitious per-diem claims were some of the prevailing corrupt practices in the country.?

A well-known Ghanaian economist suggested providing watchdog institutions such as Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) and Serious Fraud Office (SFO) with adequate resources in support of zero tolerance for corruption policy. Mr.

Kwame Pianim said, ?the capacity to monitor, evaluate and detect financial malpractices in the public sector will bring an important weapon into the fight against corruption.?

By: Yaw Adu-Asare
Woodbridge, Virginia; Monday, May 01, 2006
(This article was adapted from a forthcoming book, ?Ghana in Search of Positive Change?)

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.