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Opinions of Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Columnist: Ablakwa, Samuel Okudzeto

The Stinking Hypocrisy In Our Party Politics

“….He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” Jesus, on the woman caught in adultery. (John 8:7b)

I have listened with extreme interest all the commentary on the Scancem bribery allegation leveled against the former first couple and Mr. P.V. Obeng.

It is even more interesting to listen to the self-professed anti-corruption crusaders and those amongst them who love our country so much that they have flown to Norway and back at whoever’s expense (we are told its silly to want to know) all in the name of exposing wrongdoing and stripping corrupt ex-public officials.

As the politicians busy themselves in casting stones at each other, taken no lessons from the admonishment of Jesus Christ, I can’t help but observe the present and obvious stinking hypocrisy that some Ghanaian politicians will stop at nothing to exhibit.

The fact of the matter is that none of our Political Parties and their top politicians is innocent of such bribe monies. Some of us who have taken the time to research on this phenomenon by talking to key players in our body politic and business owners, MDs and CEOs have come to only one conclusion – all have sinned!

Let us find out from our Political Parties how they carry out their fundraising knowing that the average Ghanaian Political Party supporter has never paid party dues, doesn’t know how much the dues is and doesn’t even know where to pay. It would be important to further find out who the major donors to our Political Parties are and why they donate that much and for what returns?

It is now common practice for businesses or corporate entities who want to “survive” to reserve some corporate funds solely for donation to our political parties especially the major political parties being the NDC and the NPP.

Having personally spoken to some business owners, MDs and CEOs, what they tell me is that to “survive,” they donate to at least the NPP and NDC in every election year so that which ever of them wins, they are assured of “survival.” This “survival” means government contracts and government guarantees which also means better profits. To these corporate owners, MDs and CEOs, their normal practice is that the party they are sympathetic to receive the greater share of their donations; i.e. if a particular boss supports the NPP, the NPP will receive 70% or 80% whiles the NDC will receive 30% or 20% of the total donation.

During my extensive research, I was surprised to find out from these corporate bosses that during the Ghana @ 50 celebrations, they came under direct pressure and sometimes threats from the Government of Ghana to make donations to the Ghana @ 50 Secretariat. This they had to obey in their own interest if they wanted to be in the good books of Government. In fact, a couple of MDs told me that after their donations, one of those in charge of the celebrations told them that by their donations, their companies were safe and that they should be rest assured. This whole episode should explain the mad rush by Corporate Ghana to donate to the Ghana @ 50 Secretariat before 6th March 2007. Clearly our political parties are so much entrenched in this phenomenon that even when they form Governments, they cannot stop it. Only that it probably takes a different shape and form when they are in Government.

It is important for me to state that I noticed during my research that the phenomenon of secret financing or bribe monies is a push factor for many of the numerous presidential aspirants within our Political Parties and that is why some of these corporate bosses will show you budgets they have received from some of the plethora of presidential aspirants we have in our dear country. And again, I do not think we should be too surprised at this finding; most of the presidential aspirants in response to questions as to how they intend financing their ambitions; they are quick to point out that if one is not resourceful and connected enough to raise money then that person is not fit to be President of Ghana. The question we should be asking is: resourceful and connected enough to attract what kinds of money? Is it bribe money? And what do these “givers” expect in return? Is it monopoly, an unfair advantage over their competitors, Government contracts, or these businessmen and contractors are just Father Christmas interested in dishing out free lunch?

Our resolve as a country must be to sanitize our politics and make it honourable to engage in it. Article 55 Clause 14 states: Political Parties shall be required by law- to declare to the public their revenues and assets and the sources of those revenues and assets; and to publish to the public annually their audited accounts.

The question I ask therefore is how long shall this section of our Constitution be flouted? Are our Political Parties and their operatives above the law? Who will enforce Article 55 (14) or might it be that in the face of unanimous guilt, none is able to stand up to be counted?

We must all appreciate that dirty money in our politics has dire consequences for us all.

We must also know as media and political activists that glorifying the discontent of so-called party foot soldiers and grass root supporters who don’t pay dues but expect to be taken good care of (probably because of how the lives of those at the top instantaneously transform) only helps in putting pressure on our Political Parties to continue to swim in the mud of bribe monies so as to address such concerns most of whom but for the sudden transformation of the political elite are frivolous concerns.

Nonetheless, in the face of recent interest in bribe monies and dirty money generally some of which might be from drugs finding its way in our politics, it would be helpful for our country’s democracy and in the national interest to launch a bi-partisan commission of enquiry to look into Political Party financing since 1992. I am sure the outcome will be very interesting. This would not only name and shame culprits, it would recommend to us how we can clean up the mess and sanitize politics in Ghana whiles also ensuring full compliance of Article 55 in the future.

Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa (Former President, NUGS)

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