Has Corruption in Ghana Become an Indelible Blemish?

Some call it political corruption, and it has been commonplace since Ghana attained independence in 1957 and has always ranked high on the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index.

According to observers, the West African nation improved slightly higher than Italy and Brazil. In 2021 it ranked 73rd on the Corruption Perception Index.  In Ghana, however, the general perception remains that government related corruption is on the rise, even as its socio-economic and political impact on the state continues to be devastating. Businesses often mention corruption as an obstacle for doing business in the country.  Is there no panacea for corruption in Ghana?

Corruption continues to be rampant and even popular among the body politic of the country. The political element in corruption makes it difficult for authorities to fight it largely because the winner-takes-all element in the politics of the country nourishes the cancer of corruption. Friends and relatives from powerful political families are able to elbow their way into obtaining their needs and wants.

Galamsey or illegal mining is an instance of power play in the corruption game. Aisha Huang, a Chinese illegal immigrant came to Ghana, and with the help of her political friends, obtained property to mine gold, cut and export rosewood, a protected valuable species of lumber.

Areas where corruption is perceived to be most rampant include Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA Customs); Driver and Licensing Authority; Ghana Immigration Service; Lands Commission; Passport Agency officers; Prosecutors; Judges; and magistrates. The Ghana Police Service ranked the most corrupt institution in Ghana.

Generally, however, corruption in Ghana is pervasive and everywhere. Several efforts and attempts continue to be made to stanch corruption and its impact on the country leading to the establishment of several laws but the impact of such laws are elusive  to say the least.

The 1992 Constitution of the 4th Republic of Ghana established the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ). Each of those successive agencies is charged with specific responsibilities and duties, all concerned with corruption. Since then a few more such organizations have appeared on the corruption landscape with attractive acronyms. In 1998 then Government of Ghana established the Serious Frauds Office (SFO) to investigate corrupt practices involving both public and private institutions. 

After making it a campaign promise to fight corruption in the round up to the 2016 general election, the current NPP government established the Office of the Special Prosecutor. On its assumption of office in 2017, an Act of Parliament was passed to create the office. Martin Amidu, a legal practitioner from the opposition NDC party, believed to be an anti-corruption crusader, was sworn in to office. After a couple of years in office he could not perform and nothing significant was achieved by the office and a new Special Prosecutor was appointed.

Martin Amidu’s successor is a young, determined lawyer and scholar of the law called William Kissi Agyebeng, and it is hoped he would give Ghanaians the hope they expect.

The Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO) is a specialized agency to monitor and investigate economic and organized crime and on the authority of the Attorney General, prosecute those offenses to recover the proceeds of crime and provide for related matters. Considering the availability of the various anti-corruption agencies the perception would seem to be that corruption in Ghana should have been a thing of the past. But the end does not seem to be in sight anytime soon. Matter of fact, it continues to impact society in much the same way as it was in the past – if not more destructive.

We dare ask why with all the investigative expertise assembled against corruption, should Ghanaians continue to lose money and resources on a yearly basis? Rev. Richard Quayson, Deputy Commissioner of CHRAJ is reported to have said in a speech on July 4, 2018 that Ghana loses more than US$3 billion every year to corruption. The amount is said to be about 300 percent of all the aid Ghana receives, according to a study by IMANI, which looked at the procurement loses in the reports of the Auditor General between 2012 and 2014 and compared it to the aid received by the country.

The loss of money through corruption is usually in the area of public procurement, with public officials inflating contract prices for the provision of goods and services.

The Auditor General’s report put under examination every year by the Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC) has become a media event, only exposing those public and civil servants who committed acts of misappropriation, embezzlement and stealing. Nothing else happens. It seems

Parliament is not mandated to push any punitive measures against the perpetrators. And the Attorney General is also gagged to do same. It makes all the efforts of the law making body a mockery. We advocate for more punitive measures against those who steal and rob the nation’s money.  In addition to imprisonment, persons convicted of crimes such as these must be named and shamed no matter whose ox is gored.

Kofi Ayim – in an article late last year in this newspaper- puts it right: Ghana needs a leader who would not mind a single-term tenure, focus and fight corruption, and make probity and accountability his priority.

But is anyone ready?

Posted by on Feb 12 2023. Filed under Editorial. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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