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Opinions of Tuesday, 1 November 2005

Columnist: Adomako, Appiah Kusi

Zero Tolerance For Corruption And ...

... Ghana?s Worsening Score On The Corruption Perception Index

Last week the Transparency International through its local representative in Ghana, The Ghana Integrity Initiative released the Ti 2005 Corruption Perceptions Index. Ghana our beloved country chalked the 64th position with an abysmal mark of 3.5 out of 10. If this is expressed as a percentage, it means that Ghana had 35% and by all standards, the country would have failed if this were an examination. We do not even deserve a compensatory pass. Our position on the index is not at all acceptable especially considering the fact that we have the needed resources to rid our nation from the incubus of corruption.

This year?s mark shows a drop of 0.1 from last year?s index. Coincidentally, it was the same score which Ghana had in the year 2000 before the National Democratic Congress (NDC) left office. Our position on the index is immaterial in a sense that if you score 2.1 and still rank 10th position then what is the essence? We have to look within Ghana and not to compare with any other nation.

There is a temptation for the devotees of the ruling government to repudiate the validity of the index saying that the CPI is just based on perceptions and not the actual. You and I know that corruption is very difficult to measure. There is no time for us to engage in an empty philosophical debate and romantic illusion on this year?s score but rather let us examine calmly our collective life as a nation and wherever we have a vestige of corrupt practices we should expose it and confront it adequately. In saying this we must admit it that corruption is as endemic in Ghana as the city of Baghdad is gripped with insecurity. Corruption in Ghana is as old as the earliest history books and as contemporary as the morning newspapers. In Ghana, corruption appears to have been institutionalised.

The seriousness of the corruption situation in Ghana is that the very institution that is supposed to keep the flames of transparency and integrity high and kindling cannot boast of clean hands. For example when the police mount a barrier in the morning on the roads in the city, they do not necessarily do it in the interest of the public. For some of them, they are will be doing an exercise in self-financial recovery extorting monies from commercial drivers. Are we saying that the Inspector General of Police (IGP) is not aware of what the men-in-black doing? If a driver decides not pay money these men-in-black will find all available means to waste his time by questioning him unduly. Because of this most drivers find it convenient and expedient to pay between ? 2000 and ? 5000 from and ?be free?.

What danger here is that Ghanaian?s tolerance for corruption is very high in a sense that corruption is seen by most people as a normal way of life. Those who want to stand against corruption in every facet of life are branded as maladjusted or too-known. . The political leaders have lost the will to fight against this cancer that is eating into the vital parts of our national image. The reason is that they find themselves living in glass houses so none wants to throw a stone. Are we trying to accept this cynical notion that mankind is inherently depraved and that there is nothing man can do but to swim in the ocean of corruption? The recent Africa Peer Review Mechanism report on Ghana lambasted Ghana for our weak institutional structures in fighting corruption. Legal codes to persecute corruption in Ghana are scattered.

When the President Kufour was being inaugurated during the first term, he made a reverberating affirmation that there will be zero tolerance for corruption in his government. Ghanaians were happy thinking that Kufour had come to inject the haemoglobin of honesty, integrity and transparency into the veins of Ghanaian politics. After the trial and conviction of Mallam Yussif Yaya, then Minister of Youth and Sports and the subsequent trial of Kwame Peprah and the late Victor Selormey for causing financial loss to the state, the steam for the zero tolerance for corruption has died down. The anti corruption steam of President Kufour has come to the freezing point of zero degrees. One is not wrong when one says that within the Kufour regime, the anti-corruption crusade has been retrogressing instead of progressing. When allegations of financial misconduct are reported, the President would say that if you can provide evidence the case would be investigated.

At the 2005 parliamentary vetting of ministers, it came out that Dr Richard W Anane when on national assignment to the US had an adulterous relationship with a lady which resulted in a pregnancy and a baby. It came to light that the Dr Anane wired tens of thousands of dollars to the lady to take care of the son. When he appeared before the parliamentary vetting committee he said that the money came from a friend who decided to do good on his behalf. One would expect that the President, who was holding the sacred sword of anti-corruption high to withdraw or at the least to suspend the nomination of Dr Anane and commission his own investigation into the allegations. The question we should ask is: what caused the alleged friend to do good on behalf of the minister? Don?t we think this will allow the so called friend to get favours from the minister at the expense of the tax payer?

The Kufour administration can be lauded for the passage of the Public Procurement Act (Act 663), Financial Administration Act (Act 654) and Internal Audit Agency Act (Act 658). The intention here, one pre-supposes, is to fight public corruption. Beyond the motivation for the enactment of these legislations, there is the need for sustained political will to abide by the dictates of these laws. Worrying however is the fact that for more than a year since these laws were enacted, the Chief Justice has not been able to establish the Financial Administration Tribunal to try those who breach the law or commit offences under these laws.

In conclusion, corruption in Ghana is increasing under a regime which has it as it slogan ?zero tolerance for corruption?. Is it a case of the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak?

Appiah Kusi Adomako is an educationist, freelance writer and the president of the Ghana Chapter of Leaders of Tomorrow Foundation. He can be contacted through:
Leaders of Tomorrow Foundation,
P.O. BOX. KS 13640. Kumasi-Ghana:
appiah@whatsonghana.com www.whatsonghana.com


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