Corruption of Ghana’s Legislature: Real or perception?

Tue, 30 Jul 2013 Source: Dzidza, Peter Mawunyo

By Peter M. Dzidza

July 29, 2013

Transparency International, a highly reputable watchdog organisation on the public purse, released its annual report on corruption in Ghana on Tuesday, 9th July, 2013, ranking Ghana’s Legislature as the sixth most corrupt institution on a list made up of other public institutions like the Police Service, the Judiciary, and Political Parties amongst others.

While many Ghanaians might have welcomed the report not only as good news but also as a true reflection of perception of the general public about corruption by the members of the august house in Ghana, the members of the house whose reputation and ego were given a very healthy significant blow were all over the airwaves condemning the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), a subsidiary of Transparency International’s report whose work Ghanaians use as a barometer for measuring corruption in the country.

Not all; some MPs went to a great length by issuing threats to haul the Directors of the GII before the Privileges Committee of Parliament. Indeed, corruption in Ghanaian politics—most significantly, among the MPs—is no more a mere perception but a reality that the MPs have to fight now or leave for history to judge them by.

Furthermore, those MPs who are still living in a dreamland and hell-bent on hauling the GII before the Privileges Committee of parliament must revise their notes since Parliament cannot be exonerated entirely from the corrupt practices prevalent in Ghana. As such, threatening individuals and institutions who comment on their activities with court action is like attempting to cow the general public into submission.

We are in a democratic dispensation; and just as how they have accepted and are busily discussing the corrupt practices of the Ghana Police Service and the Judicial Service, they should have a broad and accommodating heart to accept the fact that Parliament is a human institution is prone to corruption and must be brought under the searchlight and purged.

In all, corruption—which is defined as an abuse of position of trust in order to gain an undue advantage—has only not tarnished the image of many African countries but it has also made them beggar-nations among the international community. Therefore, regardless of whatever form and shape it takes, corruption is not only inimical to human development but is also detrimental to the development of the nation as a whole. In Ghana, not only do our economic conditions make it possible for corruption to flourish but the inability to eradicate it deepens its root in all facets of our national life. It is, therefore, time for us to stand up as citizens of Ghana to be counted if indeed we want to progress as a nation and make corruption a thing of the past.

Indeed, the effect of corruption (which depletes the coffers of nations by the siphoning out of valuable national resources and assets by friends and cronies of those in power, especially in Africa) cannot be over-emphasized. This vice has made developed countries to legislate laws to make it very expensive, if not impossible, for even employees at work not to receive gifts including a tip which is the tradition in Ghana. As such, anyone found receiving these favours is as guilty as the police man collecting coins from the unsuspecting drivers on the road and staff of the judiciary exploiting the “Go-and-come” trick before a file is retrieved and processed for persons needing their services.

It is based on these issues that l find it hypocritical the interview granted by Kwabena Tahir Hammond (NPP MP for Adansi Asokwa) to the Citi News’ Richard Sky published on Ghanaweb on Thursday 11th July, 2013, under the heading “Transparency International report on MPs is nonsense”. Mr. Hammond was reported as saying that he found the report to be mind-boggling and questioned why in performing their legislative functions MPs could be described as corrupt. He was, therefore, emphatic in ironically asking the question “How do we come across as corrupt?” He said he did not understand the allegation against the MPs and found it nauseating for the GII to make such a damning indictment of the legislature. In effect, he found the GII’s claims to be disgusting.

While we applaud Mr. Hammond for such boldness, Ghanaians are at a loss and wonder why he, all of a sudden, has gained his voice which was virtually lost during Kufuor’s eight years’ reign. During these periods, corruption became very endemic and engrained into the moral fibre of the Ghanaian so much so that the President had no choice but to justify it with the statement that corruption has been with mankind since the days of Adam and that as the President, corruption knocked at his door as well but all that he did was to say “Hold back!”

Indeed, Mr. Hammond was also an MP and a Minister when P.C. Appiah-Ofori, the self-acclaimed corruption crusader, accused the NPP majority side in Parliament of collecting 5,000 US Dollars form a foreign company to influence their vote in support of the sale of Ghana Telecom to Vodafone. Interestingly, till now, not even one MP from the NPP majority side has come out to deny it, let alone take Appiah-Ofori to court for defamation of character. If that act alone is not corruption, then, what is it?

Besides, Mr. Mathew Addai, a self-acclaimed member of the NPP and an advisor to ISOFOTON SA (a Spanish company contracted for the execution of solar power pumps for irrigation in the rural areas under the NPP regime) is on air these days accusing all the powers-that-be in the then NPP administration, including MPs of corrupt practices. He claimed that he had led the former Minister of Energy (Kan Dapaah) to Spain, bought him a first-class air ticket, hosted him in a five-star hotel, and fed him in exchange for a solar panel contract to be signed for him.

He indicated that his friend, who was finally given the solar panel contract, gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to the NPP during the 2004 Presidential election campaigns and has asked the current government to investigate Mr. Kwadwo Okyere Mpiani, the Chief of Staff of the Kufuor regime; Mr. Kan Dapaah and Professor Mike Quaye. Indeed, while Ghanaians expect these “honourable men” to speak on the issue and account for their stewardship for the past eight years, they have remained silent; and some of them even take cover whenever Mathew Addai’s name is mentioned.

And these “honourable men” want to exonerate Parliament form corrupt practices? Mr. Hammond, particularly, should come again because he has more questions to answer than any answer that he may be in an indecent hurry to give on corruption in Ghana’s Parliament.

Contact; dzidza70@gmail.com

Columnist: Dzidza, Peter Mawunyo