The intricate nature of corruption in Ghana makes everything about it appears as if those fighting it do not possess the core competencies for such an undertaking. The fight against corruption helps to safeguard the uneconomical use of State financial resources. The institutions fighting it, corruption, appears powerless because of its convoluted nature and not because they lack the nitty-gritty of the law to function in fighting it.
The core causes of the canker have political underpinnings. It is the public sector that is severely corrupt and that sector is almost fully comprised of politicians. These politicians manage the resources of the State and have control over their use. Corruption is “politically-induced”. A number of factors lead to the formation of this opinion and inference. The issues that form the underlying basis for this judgment are discussed in detail as follows:
Campaign financing is one of the several causative agents of corruption. Political parties are not revenue-generating ventures and the dues that are accumulated from members of the party faithful are inadequate to finance their campaigns. Some party members do not pay their membership dues.
Yet there have been extravagant campaigns financed by individuals and enterprises. Many of these individuals are not party faithful but find it rewarding to finance the campaigns of parties. A critical opinion that can be considered eventually is that the financiers use their money to lure the parties for awarding of contracts.
Political parties have not shown the sources of their income. They do not engage in productive investments too. How are they financed? Public sector workers are required by Law to declare their assets and liabilities as a means to fight corruption. Political parties are required by Law to declare the sources of their revenues and assets. The constitution, in Article 55 (14) subsection (a), instructs political parties “to declare to the public their revenues and assets and the sources of those revenues and assets”. The audited accounts of these parties are also required to be published to the public annually.
The various political parties have defaulted on these requirements of the law. This gives them the opportunity to engage in financial impropriety. To help the institutions fighting corruption perform their functions excellently successfully, these parties should be constrained to meet the requirements of the Law. This will indicate the seriousness parties attach to the fight against corruption.
Party Primaries are held to elect those that the party deems fit to enhance its chances of winning elections. These primaries are not carried out on fair playgrounds. The best candidate does not win empty-handedly. There are exchanges, in the form of material or cash. Political parties do not have an unprejudiced playground for electing their leaders. In reality, those who can afford to pay all the delegates sizable amounts of money win elections.
This presents a fertile ground for the persons elected through this mode to be corrupt. This system has the chance of influencing the integrity of such persons. They will find avenues to recoup their money. The motive of serving the country is quashed before an individual is elected.
The individual thinks of the money invested in the campaigns before thinking about the interest of the state and that of the people they represent. But Henry Ford says “the only motive that can keep politics pure is the motive of doing good for one’s country and its people”. Motives that can keep politics pure are those based on the need to serve the people and not those intended on amassing a considerable amount of wealth through investment in campaigns to win political power.
The procedure for awarding contracts in Ghana is a causal factor to the grounds for corruption. There are procurement laws in the country that must be adhered to in awarding contracts. Political parties find it rewarding and sympathetic to give contracts to financiers and party faithful by breaching these laws.
The Auditor-General has identified, on many occasions, breaches of the procurement laws which have amounted to significant sums of money. The violations of these laws can be prevented if processes and procedures are followed meticulously by giving superior attention to the laws. These breaches of the laws governing the award of contracts are fundamental to causing corruption.
Political parties find it obligatory to award contracts to party faithful and party financiers. This opinion is not formed from the current happenings. Procurement breaches have occurred in the past. These same parties turn around to find those who participate in corrupt activities in the end.
Internal Control procedures at the Assemblies and some government agencies are generally weak. The Auditor-General recurrently reports internal control problems. Internal control procedures are not followed even where they exist and are non-existent in some institutions. In fighting corruption, these procedures need to be strengthened with punitive measures if flouted.
The political parties in Ghana meanderingly involve in the core causes of the very act they find dutiful to fight. The complex nature of the involvement of these parties in the activities causing corruption makes it difficult to apply the solutions prescribed by the law to fight it.
The ultimate goal of winning political power is to serve the people. It is to govern them, for them, and by them, as indicated by Abraham Lincoln. Corruption is changing the goal of winning political power. In the words of Paul Krugman, “the goal, in the end, is not to win elections. The goal is to change society.”
Emmanuel Kwabena Wucharey
Economics Tutor – Kintampo SHS