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Beyond the political perspective: Curbing corruption in Ghana

botchway May 8, 2019

 

Denis Andaban | denisandaban@gmail.com

It is incontestable that I don’t own an authoritative voice in the overly polarised Ghanaian political discourse but I believe that it is within my fundamental human rights, as enshrined in chapter five of the 1992 constitution of this country, to voice my opinion on the rather seeming endless social canker that is cyclically and speedily engulfing the entire Ghanaian society.

The many strides we make as a country are always consumed by this enemy at last! It is really a melancholic narrative.

Let me also be frank that it is quite a complex social menace that permeates every facet of our social, political and economic lives. It is not for nothing that we continue to borrow humongous financial resources from so-called world economic powers whilst every single problem in this country continually gets worse.

Borrowing isn’t bad but when we borrow to fix our problems and such monies end up in the stomachs of those in privileged leadership positions, then one may not be far from right to conclude that it only comes in to make us poorer.

Unemployment continues to soar in Africa and Ghana, those who are employed are living in poor economic conditions compared to their counterparts in other countries, we import more than we produce, creating a balance of deficits problems, our infrastructure deficit continues to receive political rhetoric, just to mention a few.

In my considered opinion, all these challenges are strings of corruption. Corruption though largely measured by public perception, the benchmark of its reality, is the impoverishment of society at large. The lives of the vast majority of the citizenry are the lucid manifestation of this number one enemy of progress and society. To put it shortly, a chunk of our resources are dissipated through corruption.

Indeed, according to the Deputy Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) Commissioner, Mr. Richard Quayson (2018), Ghana loses GH¢13.5 billion every year through corruption. This is big, isn’t it? Most of the loans we go for are far less than this amount.

Interestingly, we have enough legislation that could help us to minimize if not eradicate this beast. Let me enumerate just a few here. We have the following: Public Procurement Act, National Anti-Corruption Action Plan, Establishment of Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice, Economic and Organized Crime Act, Code of Conduct for Public Officer, the Criminal Code, Special Prosecutor’s Act and now the famous Right to Information Act yet to be operationalised.

In fact, the laws are numerous that I cannot catalogue all of them here. The button line is that we have enough legislation to deal with corruption but the question is why are we unable to curb the menace of corruption?

There exist, what I call a structural defect in the governance structure that provides a very fertile ground for corruption and its related activities. That structural defect which arises from loopholes of the 1992 constitution is the “winner takes all” syndrome.

Certainly, the winner-takes-all isn’t any novel concept from me because it is an unconcluded subject of discussion. It has been in the public discourse for years but I think it must be reechoed for the intellectual community to delve deep into it to help us the ordinary citizen appreciate its effects.

What is the winner-takes-all system?

Winner-take-all or winner-takes-all is an electoral system in which a single political party or group can elect every office within a given district, Region, or jurisdiction. The appointing authority is given to usually the president of the day who appoints his party people as a minister, DCEs, Board Members, and many more.

Winner-takes-all is contrasted with proportional representation, in which more than one political party or group can elect offices in proportion to their voting power.

In my ordinary opinion, the winner takes all practice is a catalyst of corruption. It opens the flood gate for a particular government to appoint party surrogates, family and friends, even without a ceiling, into all critical areas of governance. The appointees consider such privileges given to them as political reward scoop their many years of political investment to the detriment of the state. In fact, Prof. Joseph Atsu Ayee (August 2016) in his paper ” The root of corruption: The Ghanaian Enquiry) substantiate lucidly on how the winner takes all is a breeding ground of corruption.

Importantly, corruption is a socio-cultural problem in Africa and Ghana in particular. It has become a normal daily practice that people don’t consider as a crime. The expectations of society on those in leadership problems, family burdens and a host of others push people to siphon state resources at all cost. Any approach to the fight against corruption that relegates an integrated approach that would demystify to unhealthy socio-cultural practice shall only be a mirage. This is exactly what the politicians have been doing over the years. They think that passing legislation and make mere public pronouncements are enough to win the fight against corruption.

Ignorantly or deliberately, politicians ride on the back of corruption to political power. Ahead of the 2016 elections, the NPP then in opposition made every effort to portray the erstwhile regime as a corrupt government so as they could ride on same to win political power. That really did the magic but has the change of government eradicated corruption in Ghana?

Today, we continue to record serious cases of corruption from government officials yet the government of the day is helplessly adamant. The best they do is trying to defend such officials so as to portray the government as incorruptible but the reality is that corruption is at its highest peak. It does appear that the current government has given up in the area of fighting corruption.

Recent happenings in the country, how politicians are busy devouring the national cake wickedly, tells me that we must begin to appreciate the fight against corruption using the approach I call an “integrated social model”. Such a model must be a medium to long term strategy that could be used to change the mindset of all citizens. It must be used in our various Educational Institutions, Churches and Community gatherings. The political angle isn’t producing any positive results. The state can take fight up and allow the politicians to play the game. When that happens, we can make some progress but if state institutions want to remain as appendages of these politicians then our country is forever doom.

If the state fails to consider any pragmatic long term strategy, then the future of this country remains bleak. Even at the student level leadership, corruption is common. You can imagine if our educational institutions churn out corrupt graduates and such are the people that will become the future leaders of our country!! They will just sell this country!!!

Better late than never!!

Let’s be real and stop the rhetoric.

 

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