Let Us Halt Corruption In Ghana Before It Destroys Our Nation

Mon, 27 Oct 2014 Source: Thompson, Kofi

By Kofi Thompson

As a people, we must stop the corrupt individuals who steal taxpayers' funds, from getting away with their crimes against our nation and its people. They must not be allowed to benefit from their crimes.

Parliament ought to enact laws that empower the courts to seize and order the sale of the assets of convicted white collar criminals who steal public funds - to enable the state recover the stolen money.

Corruption does have a deleterious effect on the social fabric - and actually kills many ordinary people: such as some of those who have died from the recent cholera outbreak, because of the appalling and insanitary conditions that they are forced to live in as a result of the endemic poverty in the slums of urban Ghana.

Others continue to die from common diseases like malaria because they lack the money to pay for prescribed medication. That is intolerable - and an indictment of our ruling elites: who have allowed Nkrumah's Ghana to become a society in which huge disparities in wealth exist.

Yet, if we sealed all the loopholes in the system that enable white collar criminals to siphon off public funds, we could ensure that the poor have access to: free healthcare; free education from kindergarten to tertiary level (for those with the aptitude to study - but whose families cannot afford to pay for their education); and access to well-designed and well-built affordable housing in new green cities.

15th October, 2014, was Global Hand-Washing Day. Sadly, on the day, and in the midst of a nationwide cholera outbreak, hundreds of thousands of homes, schools, healthcare facilities, markets and other public buildings across the country, did not have (and still do not have) treated running water. And this is actually our 57th year as an independent nation, incredibly.

Perhaps the question we must pose to our ruling elites is: if there is an outbreak of Ebola fever in Ghana, how many will become infected, because they lacked access to soap and treated running water from taps to wash their hands under?

With Ebola threatening to kill tens of thousands if there is an outbreak here (God forbid), why should we continue to tolerate those corrupt individuals in the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL), for example, who allegedly collude with private water sellers to install powerful booster pumps that enable them to tap into the GWCL's distribution pipeline network, to draw treated water illegally into their reservoirs - an unconscionable crime that leads to scores of dry taps in nearby properties in their neighbourhoods?

How can high standards of hygiene be maintained by families and individuals, as well as businesses and institutions, in such circumstances?

We have all seen how the perennial lack of funds has crippled the healthcare systems of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone - and has resulted in their inability to halt the current Ebola outbreak.

Unfortunately, over the years, corruption has resulted in broken national systems across west Africa that deny millions from having a decent standard of living and a good quality of life.

As it happens, today is World Food Day. It is a day when we ought to be thinking of ways of empowering Ghana's smallholder farmers - who provide most of the agricultural produce that help feed our nation. We should salute Food Sovereignty Ghana - for their effort to keep the multinational GMO seed companies out of Ghanaian agriculture.

Incredibly, our country's parliamentarians, who are not obliged to pass sell-out-legislation that renders it impossible for the Ghanaian nation-state to control the activities of multinational GMO seed companies like Monsanto inside its territorial boundaries, are inexplicably determined to do so - and in the process allow controversial GMO seeds to be sold and planted here. How can that be?

Why the indecent haste - when we lose nothing by delaying legislation to allow GMO crops to be sold and grown here: whiles we wait for the world's scientific community to see the effect it has on the long-term health of consumers in the nations that permit the planting of GMO crops and their sale to consumers?

Based on that empirical evidence, could an informed decision about GMO seeds, not then be made for the nation, by Parliament?

Why don't our nation's parliamentarians simply leave out Clause 23 of the Plant Breeders Bill - and save Ghana's smallholder farmers from the clutches of ruthless companies like Monsanto?

What is the point of making it possible for multinational seed companies to hold our nation and its agricultural-sector to ransom someday? Why pass laws clearly inimical to the national interest and which will undermine the well-being of our people? Odd, that.

In any case, what moral right do a few parliamentarians, numbering less than 300, out of a total population of over 25 million citizens, have, to deny the Ghanaian nation-state the power to control the activities of GMO seed companies like Monsanto, inside the borders of the landmass of Ghana?

Does it never strike our parliamentarians that the only conclusion that many patriotic and discerning Ghanaians can come to, when faced with such obduracy on their part, is that somehow they have been compromised by lobbyists for the GMO seed companies?

Who in Ghana has forgotten the U.S.$5,000 each, allegedly distributed to parliamentarians on the majority side, as 'sitting allowance', during the long hours it took to railroad the sale and purchase agreement for Ghana Telecom to Vodafone SA through Parliament, during the golden age of business for Kufuor & Co?

And if it is true that the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) intends to pay Karadeniz Holdings of Turkey as much as U.S.1.2 billions to rent two of its power-generating ships over a period of ten years, when it can buy two power barges with similar generating capacity outright from the reputable power-barge builder Wartsila of Finland, for less than half that amount, then when exactly will Parliament step in to halt the perfidy of the ECG officials behind that egregious rip-off of Mother Ghana?

Ghana's Parliament ought to join the fight to halt corruption in Ghana. For, as a people, if we fail to halt corruption in Ghana, it will eventually destroy Ghanaian democracy - drowning Parliament in the revolutionary-tsunami that will sweep Ghanaian democracy and its mostly-corrupt institutions away from its furious and destructive path.

That is why whiles congratulating the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI), which unearthed the unparallelled corruption at the National Service Secretariat (NSS), all patriotic Ghanaians ought to also commend the #OccupyGhana movement - for deciding to sue the Auditor General of Ghana in the law courts for what amounts to gross dereliction of duty: in failing to detect and prevent the theft of tens of millions of Ghana cedis on a regular basis from the coffers of the NSS.

Let us halt corruption in Ghana before it destroys our nation. A word to the wise...

Columnist: Thompson, Kofi