General News of 2014-03-11

Ghanaian think tanks are just talkatives - Tarzan

Policy Analyst, Dr. Charles Wereko-Brobby says civil society organsations should take up the responsibility of holding leaders of the country accountable rather than just blabbing.

According to the Chief Policy Analyst of Ghana Institute of Public Policy Options (GIPPO), local think tanks have now joined politicians in "talking plenty and doing nothing".

Tarzan, as he popularly called, was reacting to calls by some governance think tanks for investigations into claims by a former Majority Leader, Alban Bagbin, that some Members of Parliament (MPs) take bribes.

The calls were made by Mr Daniel Batidam, the Executive Director of the African Parliamentarians Network Against Corruption (APNAC), Dr Franklin Oduro, the Deputy Director of the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD) and Dr Emmanuel Akwetey, the Executive Director of the Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG).

But speaking on the Super Morning Show on Joy FM, Tuesday, Tarzan said the experts should spare the nation the commentaries and take decisive action to hold government accountable to the people.

"They [experts] are all running organisations which ostensibly should do more than calling for; should do more than issuing press statements; should take on the mantle on behalf of the people of Ghana, for monitoring the performance of governance and the implementation of laws of this country.

"That I think is where there is a huge gap where civil society has joined politicians in talking plenty and doing nothing," he said.

He accused the civil society organisations of confining themselves to organising seminars and workshops that have not made any positive impact on governance in the country.

"Let's not sit down for Transparency International or whoever it is to send foreign consultants and write reports on corruption and then we issue statements on them.

"It's not good enough," Tarzan exclaimed.

Right to Information Bill

A case in point, according to him, is the inability of the CSOs to demand the passage of the Right to Information Bill into law which has been in Parliament for years. Passage of the bill into law would promote transparency in governance and reduce corruption, Dr. Wereko-Brobby stressed.

"One of the biggest problems we face in this country is the lack of transparency. And good governance and anti-corruption is based on transparency....Here [Ghana] there is no transparency.

"The right to information bill is stuck in Parliament...They should go and mount pressure on Parliament. They can go and picket Parliament and sit there... "Go to Parliament; go to Dr. [Benjamin] Kunbuor (Majority Leader) [and demand] why the bill hasn't been laid… Don't call on; who are you calling on? You must be the agent of the monitoring and the demand for transparency," he charged.

Attitudinal Revolution

A Research Fellow at the Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana, Dr Debrah Atobrah says unless people in the middle class "step back and take off our political clothes", the masses will continue to suffer the ills of corruption perpetrated by public officials.

"Many people are enjoying all the privileges that they are not entitled to...we all want to amass [wealth] so much for ourselves and when we do that, we don't put the country first," Dr. Atobrah lamented.

Meanwhile, Development Economist, Nana Oforiwaa Koranteng, is advocating a change in attitudinal behaviour in order to promote national development. The founder of International Rural Chapels Ministry noted that despite the fact that Ghana has many laws enshrined in its statute books, implementing those laws has always been difficult for Ghana.

"We have become a country of law making but not law enforcing… [but] that doesn't mean anything," she said.