Anti-Corruption campaigner and Executive Director of Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), Vitus Azeem says he is not sure of the capacity of the Council of State in the fight against corruption.
He believes the Council can only contribute to the fight as an advisory body but has no powers to fight the menace as stated by President Akufo-Addo during their (Council of State) swearing-in ceremony.
“We still have challenges of the phenomenon of illegal mining, popularly referred to as ‘galamsey’, corruption in public life, and we need to enhance the efficiency of the State’s administrative machinery. In all these, I expect you to be proactive partners in our common efforts to find solutions that will improve the lives of our people, and safeguard the integrity of our nation and its heritage.”
These were the words of the President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, on Tuesday, 23rd February 2021, when he swore into office members of the Council of State, at a ceremony at Jubilee House, the seat of the nation’s presidency.
Reacting to the President’s statement on the Epa Hoa Daben political talk show on Happy 98.9 FM, the anti-corruption crusader said, “Members of the Council of State are just an advisory body and not security forces. The President needs to use the EOCO, Special Prosecutors Office, the Police Service to fight corruption and not the Council. I don’t know how the Council of State will help us fight corruption”, he noted.
On Vitus’ accord, the President giving the security services their independence and equipping them with the appropriate resources is a sure way to fight corruption. “If the President is really committed to fight corruption, he knows what to do”, he charged.
With the existence of a National Anti-Corruption action plan, Vitus expects the appropriate bodies to act upon the information they receive on corruption and punish public officials to serve as a deterrent to others.
He believes a fundamental problem to the fight against corruption is the shelving of investigations and the non-prosecution of culprits.
“Sometimes we investigate cases of corruption and shelf reports from them and do not even act upon the recommendations given. This has been our problem all this while when it comes to the fight against corruption”, he said.
According to the Ghana Corruption Report, corruption poses an obstacle for businesses operating or planning to invest in Ghana. Nonetheless, corruption levels in Ghana remain low compared to other African countries. Low-level government employees are known to ask for a ‘dash’ (tip) in return for facilitating license and permit applications. Ghanaian anti-corruption law is primarily contained in the Criminal Code, which criminalizes active and passive bribery, extortion, willful exploitation of public office, use of public office for private gain and bribery of foreign public officials.
The Public Procurement Act, the Financial Administration Act, and the Internal Audit Agency Act have been introduced to promote public sector accountability and to combat corruption. The government has a strong anti-corruption legal framework in place but faces challenges of enforcement. Gifts and other gratuities offered to civil servants with the aim of influencing their duties are illegal, nonetheless, facilitation payments are not defined in law.