President Akufo-Addo, on Monday, outlined major strides made in his national anti-corruption fight at the Annual Bar Conference of the Ghana Bar Association in Takoradi. The President denied claims that he was shielding corrupt officials in his government.
Reacting to the claim by the opposition that he (President) was a ‘clearing agent’ for his erring appointees, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo stated that it was not his job to clear or convict appointees accused of corruption and that allegations of corruption have been appropriately referred to the relevant investigative agencies for proper enquiry and necessary action.
Much as The Chronicle is happy about the way the President has referred every single alleged act of corruption by appointees of this government to independent constitutional bodies such as the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service, Office of the Special Prosecutor and Parliament itself, though we cannot say we are content with the outcomes of some of the investigations.
In the aftermath of the “contract for sale” exposé concerning the Public Procurement Authority, The Chronicle cannot but agree with the coalition of civil society organisations (CSOs) working against corruption, comprising Amnesty International, Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) and CDD-Ghana among others, in demanding from the President and his government a demonstration of real commitment to the fight against corruption.
This must indeed be a litmus test for the government, because it highlights a dysfunctional corruption equilibrium that must be disrupted if we are to make progress in our democratic dispensation.
Sunlight is said to be the best disinfectant, with its alluring notion that transparency and free access to information will root out corruption and malfeasance in a government. One mechanism by which transparency can have a cleansing impact in democratic regimes is by giving people the information they need to eject dishonest politicians.
At the Bar Conference, the President stated that his government had systematically increased the funding for accountability institutions of state, such as Parliament, the Judiciary, the Office of the Attorney General, CHRAJ and the Auditor General.
The Chronicle is quick to add the introduction of the Right to Information Act, which was passed early this year, and the establishment of the Office of the Special Prosecutor to serve as an independent investigating and prosecution body.
From the above, the case of Ghana is not about the lack of constitutional bodies to fight corruption, but the need for political will to stem the tide.
In fact, more has to be done by governments to show commitment in dealing with alleged cases of corruption. For instance, in the Australia Commonwealth Games Visa Scandal, Ghanaians are yet to see a report and prosecution of person(s) who engaged in acts that brought global embarrassment and shame to this nation.
Just as we are demanding the findings and reports of these state institutions, The Chronicle cautions that when they are made public, they should not be pooh poohed, especially by opposition elements who intend to score cheap political points by perpetually holding on to the dismissed allegations.
The Chronicle agrees with the President when he said: “It cannot be the case that people are condemned on the basis of mere allegations. That is the law of the jungle.”
All stakeholders must continue their commitment in the anti-corruption fight, and assist in strengthening state institutions that lead the charge. The fight against corruption must begin to bear fruits now!