FIGHTING CORRUPTION, VICTORIA HAMMAH, A CASE STUDY FOR GOVTS

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Former President John Dramani Mahama

 

Corruption in Ghana, is a canker that has plagued almost every Administration since independence.

 

Our politics, the desire of politicians to get rich quick, has made our democracy very expensive and the reason some of our political leaders have become so corrupt.

 

While some of our political leaders are corrupt, we can also not trust our public and civil servants, who professionally, are supposed to guide the politicians but are themselves corrupt.

 

It is obvious every Government since independence has tried to fight corruption but why did all of them fail?

 

Ghana has all the anti-corruption institutions and Laws but why has the enforcement of these Laws not been very successful?

 

According to the 2022 corruption perception index report of Transparency International, Ghana is ranked 72 least corrupt country out of 180 countries in the world.

 

From all indications, corruption has had tremendous negative impact on Ghana’s development since independence and there is no indication we are going to find a solution to this canker.

 

The Late Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah of the Convention People’s Party (CPP), had his fair share of corruption among his appointees and never succeeded fighting it, eventually it consumed his administration as corrupt officials got paid to overthrow his government.

 

Although the National Liberation Council (NLC) accused the CPP of corruption, its leaders fared worse than the CPP and the circle of corruption continue until the AFRC came in 1979 and tied the leaders of Military regimes to tree trunks and shot them but corruption persisted.

 

Even though he did not succeed in 1979 to rid the country of corruption, Flt Lt. Jerry John Rawlings in his second attempt at leading Ghana, promulgated the 1992 constitution with some very strong anti-corruption laws.

 

The 1992 constitution for example, provided for the establishment of a Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ). CHRAJ as we speak, is charged with investigating all instances of alleged and suspected corruption and the misappropriation of public funds by public officials.

 

Truth be told, if the mandate given CHRAJ under the 1992 constitution is anything to go by, corruption should have ended with its promulgation but what is evident currently is, CHRAJ itself is overwhelmed dealing with cases on corruption and frustrated by politicians who would not give it the needed funds to work with.

 

Now Politics has become a very lucrative business because almost all the anti-corruption institutions have been rendered inactive and have ceased to perform, hence the mad rush for politics by a section of Ghanaians.

 

The Electoral Commission (EC), the gatekeeper of Political power, mandated to stop unqualified citizens from getting access to political power, has been very inefficient carrying out its mandate of vetting prospective candidates meet the criteria set out by the 1992 constitution.

 

The EC has failed to disqualify prospective candidates, who breach the EC’s guidelines (laws) laid down by the constitution.

 

In Ghana, everyone is corrupt. If we should follow religiously what the Laws of Ghana states, then the kind of corruption that occurs every day in street corners, in shops, in offices, are not what is impacting negatively the country’s development, it is the corruption in high places, in the corridors of power.

 

How do we fight this canker when our leaders, from the President to his appointees to the least in the governing party’s offices, have no ‘political will’ to fight corruption?

 

Ghanaians believe, for any solution to be effective in the fight against corruption, government reaction should be swift and the perpetrators, named and shamed as soon as news of corruption is reported.

 

If anything at all, His Excellency John Dramani Mahama, deserve the commendation of Anti-corruption crusaders and Ghanaians in general, for the swift manner he handled the Victoria Hammah’s removal as the Deputy Minister of Communications.

 

The former President should also be credited with other cases of corruption which, irrespective of the fact that the culprits were members of his government, he allowed their prosecution.

 

We are all aware of the uncomplimentary statements from the public and the unprintable abuses from the then opposition party and now the governing party in power.

 

What was Victoria Hamah’s crime? Did she see or handled the $1 million?

 

Victoria Hamah was only daydreaming of having $1 million and quitting politics after, she never saw or handled the money, yet she was kicked out days after the news broke.

 

Swift action and immediate interdiction, that should be the yardstick by which leaders (Presidents), with strong ‘political will power’, should handle such high level corrupt cases. Victoria Hamah had a motive and once she had a motive, it means in case $1 million should land on her desk as a Minister, she would have found a way of keeping it.

 

There are those who will argue about the legal implications and the fact that newspaper stories are mere allegations and not the whole truth. We should not forget that the big scandals of this world, were initially newspaper allegations but became true big stories.

 

Even if officials reported to have misconducted themselves, should not be dismissed based on newspaper allegations, they should be made to step aside and allow investigations into the matter.

 

According to Transparency International, the Judiciary and the Police are the two most corrupt institutions in the country and these are the institutions handling legal issues and if they are that corrupt, then why must the President, who has the power to appoint and dismiss, rely on them to fight corruption?

 

Leaders of nations like Singapore, Malaysia and many others who have been able to fight corruption, have done so ignoring the agitations of the Judiciary because Lawyers will always fight for people who have the money.

 

In Singapore, a Minister was sentenced to death on his return from a vacation sponsored by a friend. The Administration saw the ‘vacation gift’ as an act of corruption. Some of these actions by the Singaporean administration has transformed that country to what it is today, a corruption free country.

 

In Malaysia, a newly elected President, suspecting the outgoing administration had stockpiled so much money in individual homes, in his inaugural address, ordered the Police to surround the homes of all government appointees and search them.

 

Millions of Dollars were seized from the homes of Ministers and the outgoing President. The new Administration ignored the noise made by the country’s Lawyers and saved the Malaysian economy, which was at the time in dye stress.

 

John Mahama’s approach in the Victoria Hammah’s case, so far, has been the best any President had taken since independence. Once a motive is established, it means given the opportunity, the culprit would steal if he or she gets the opportunity.

 

This is why every story about corruption should not be trivialized and should be taken serious and dealt with swiftly to deter other appointees, public and civil servants from indulging in corrupt acts.

 

Source – Jojo Bruce-Quansah

jojobrucequansah@gmail.com

 

 

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