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Opinions of Thursday, 30 October 2014

Columnist: Dekportor, Chris Mensah

The Corruption of Politics

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The Politics of Corruption

It has been widely claimed by some elements in the New Patriotic Party that Nana Akuffo Addo was not engaged in any act of corruption during his tenure as Minister in the Kuffour administration. However this claim is debatable if subjected to detailed scrutiny. Indeed the claim depends on what constitutes corruption within our political discourse. If omissions of public officials and acts of conflict of interest can be accepted as constituting acts of corruption-as has been claimed insome instances- then Akuffo Addo cannot escape the corruption tag. This is more so the case if his conduct in the handling the Drill Ship matter during his tenure as Attorney General in 2001 is subjected to careful scrutiny.

Under bizarre circumstances Nana Akuffo Addo in 2001 as Attorney General wrote to GNPC to dispense with the services of lawyers representing them in their case involving Soceite General and compelled them torefer the Drill Ship matter to the Attorney General’s office, only to deliberately abandon the defence of the case in a Londoncourt. This opened the door for Soceite General to obtain a judgment debt of USD$19.5million in the undefended case which resulted in the sale of the Drillship. The interesting aspect of the matter is that GNPC believed that they had a good defence against Societe General in the case, but were strongly prevailed upon by the Attorney General to discontinue their defence resulting in a huge financial loss to the state. Is this not similar to the position taken by Attorney General Betty Mould Iddrissu in failing to contest the Woyome case which resulted in the payment of a huge judgment debt by the state? If the Attorney General’s conduct in the handling of the Woyome case is cited as an act of corruption in the corruption debate, then Akuffo Addo’s handling of the Drill Ship case as Attorney General can equally be viewed as having conflict of interest and corruption undertones. It is also an interesting coincidence that when Akuffo Addo had to sell his family property in Accra he sold it to none other entity than Societe General.

In essence therefore the corruption debate should not be reduced to one of political convenience. Indeed it is undeniable that corruption occurs in most countries in the world. What is relevant however is how vigorously corruption is fought by Government and state institutions charged with responsibility to fight corruption when incidents of it arises. Unfortunately in Ghana we have reduced corruption to an issue that offers political advantage in the political power game hence devaluing the fight against it. As our Governments and the media step up the fight against corruption there naturallywould be more public awareness and highlightson corruption incidents as they occur. The key however is to monitor the response of Government to corruption incidents as they emerge. If Government adopts a lackadaisical approach to corruption incidents as they occur then there is a genuine cause for concern. However if corrupt officials are vigorously prosecuted, and corruption cases are vigorously pursued, then Government can rightly be said to be doing a good job at fighting corruption. Incidents of exposure of corruption in itself should never be a yardstick for branding any Government as being corrupt. It is the response of Government to acts of corruption as they occur that should seriously engage our attention. In this regard, any Government that does not shield its officials who engage in acts of corruption from prosecution should be commended and not branded as corrupt merely because incidents are being freely exposed and reported.

The fight against corruption is a serious one and should thus not be reduced to a political game as is currently the case. We should also note that corruption transcends all facets of our society be it among politicians, professionals, pastors, teachers, public servants or chiefsand therefore we should be interested in fighting it across board. It is also especially crucial for the courts to play their part in the fight against corruption in Ghana if we are to reduce corruption in Ghana. If cases on corruption are largely fought around technical and procedural issues as opposed to the substantive issues at stake, then corrupt individuals would be emboldened to believe that they can perpetrate corruption and get away with it. Our judges should therefore be oriented to properly apply their discretion in corruption cases and place a high premium on the national interest in such cases. God Bless our Nation Ghana Report By: Mensah Dekportor (Hamburg)

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