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Opinions of Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Columnist: Kwaku Badu

Mahama and the bizarre cases of bribery and corruption (1)

In the few weeks leading to the 7th December 2016 general elections, I shall seek to grub into the umpteen and somewhat weird bribery and corruption allegations that have been put at the doorsteps of President Mahama and his NDC administration.

In no particular order, the sleuth-hounding cursor will be focusing on: ‘The furtive gift by the Burkinabe Contractor Djabril Kanazoe; the Embraer 190 scandal; Armajaro; Mabey and Johnson; SADA; SUBA Info Solutions scandal’ and many others.

It is worth noting that corruption is an epochal economic, social, political and moral hindrance on the advancement of most nations, especially the emerging countries.

Indeed, corruption is an insidious canker that more often than not slackens development in most countries, especially the developing nations. And more so it has become a global wonderment in horizon, substance and consequences.

Unsurprisingly, therefore, in recent years, there has been a panorama of international consensus to deal with the existential problem of corruption.

The most admirable of such international synergistic initiative is the United Nations Convention against Corruption, which was opened for signature in 2003, and came into force in December 2005.

Apparently, the UN Convention against Corruption is the first meaningful universal instrument enacted to prevent and combat corruption with a view to networking and thereby building on a broad international consensus.

In fact, one of the most relevant provisions of the UN Convention against Corruption is the procurement clause which most countries have given meaning in their national laws, including Ghana.

Interestingly, however, Ghana signed the UN Convention against Corruption on 9th December 2004 and then ratified on 27th June 2007.

For those of you who are not familiar with the United Nations system, there is difference between UN treaty signatory and ratification.

Human Rights Treaties require signatures and ratifications, once they are adopted in the UN General Assembly by a required number of states before they can enter into force (Wotipka and Tsutsui 2008).

Without a required number of ratified states, Human Rights Treaties would not come into force (Wotipka and Tsutsui 2008).

Articles 26 and 29 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties stress that once a state ratifies a treaty, such state has given its consent to be bound by the treaty provisions (UN 1969). Conversely, a state that only signs a treaty is not bound by treaty provisions (UN 1969).

Article 26 of the Vienna Convention on the law of Treaties for instance, stresses on ‘pacta sunt servanda-meaning, “every treaty in force is binding upon the parties to it and must be performed by them in good faith” (UN 1969). This suggests that states parties are obliged to honour their promises once they have voluntarily agreed to join the human rights regime.

Moreover, Article 29 of the Vienna Convention on the law of Treaties underscores the legal obligations imposed on the states parties (UN 1969).

The overarching question then is: has Ghana government been able to fulfil its obligations under the 1969 Vienna Law of Treaties following the ratification of the UN Convention against Corruption? I don’t think so.

As a matter of fact, the economic effects of corruption are huge and often leads to inefficient use of resources and it discourages productive investment, above all foreign investment.

Moreover, it impacts negatively on economic growth and diminishes the standard of living.

Besides, corruption unfairly channels wealth and resources to a few greedy individuals and more importantly to the detriment of the poor.

Sadly, however, corruption often resorts in bizarre excessive public spending and makes the tax system less efficient and needlessly increases the public deficit and destabilizes national budgets, encourages capital flight and creates perverse incentives that stimulate income-seeking rather than productive activities, in a negative sense.

In fact, the social and political effects of corruption are no less destructive: “corruption undermines the rule of law and democracy; it endangers good government, efficient public administration and sound governance; it distorts the economy ; it threatens fundamental human rights and subverts the institutions that guarantee stability, security and sustainable development” (Argandonya 2006).