CORRUPTION: The Need To Strengthen Our Enforcement Agencies

Corruption has been in existence since time immemorial. However, over the past fifty (50) years, especially after the attainment of Independence for many African countries, it has reached an alarming level! If care is not taken to put proper checks in place, Africa will continue to wallow in poverty. Most countries around the world experience some level of corruption, but in Africa, it can simply be described as outrageous. You have a Member of Parliament or a minister siphoning money and other resources, meant for the provision of portable drinking water, accommodation and food, to his foreign account without even thinking twice. When investigations are done and the culprit found guilty, then the long bureaucracy sets in.  You find many people, mainly in the ruling party, backing the culprit and playing all sorts of delay tactics with the case and its procedure.

Many institutions have been put up to check cases of corruption as well as the legal instruments to make their work possible. However, the greatest challenge we face as a continent is on law enforcement. You can have the best of laws available and the institutions to apply them, but as long as the human beings running them are easily compromised, you will certainly not make any headway in solving the crisis! It is like having the best architect to plan your building, however well-schemed the building is, if you don't have the requisite people with the necessary tools to carry it out. It will only remain a mirage, or to put it better 'just a plan on paper'.

Politicians have taken us for granted for so long! They easily forget how discerning the electorates are and after some time in office they begin to show arrogance, impunity and abuse their incumbency. In Ghana we operate with a unitary system of government, hence if there is a shift in power we experience a phenomenon of 'winner takes it all'. It sometimes leads to the abuse of incumbency, since a simple majority vote gets bills passed and contracts signed, regardless of whether it is at the benefit of the nation or otherwise. An example of this is when the majority of Parliamentarians also have their presidential candidate as president or when a member of the ruling party is found guilty of corruption, the incumbent government tends to 'shield their own'. 

One case that has remained unresolved to this day is that of a Judgement Debt wrongfully paid to the financier of the then incumbent political party. After so many years of haggling and protracted court dates, he was finally asked to refund the money wrongfully paid to him. He has shown no remorse of his action and has not yet paid a dime of the whooping amount - over $10 million dollars (GH¢51.2 million)! The Attorney General, who during his tenure in office, approved such a payment is alleged to have had a share of the loot along with many other prominent people in the same party. We as citizens had to organize a series of demonstrations and press conferences to drum home our demand to see justice served. We still keep our fingers crossed, keeping in mind that that tax-payer's money is safely returned to the national coffers.

I was marveled when recently the South Korean president was impeached according to the laws of their land for using her office to compel corporate organizations to donate to the charity organizations owned by her close friend whom she has known for close to over forty years now. When I saw the news, I simply smiled and asked if this could have ever happened in any part of Africa? Everyday more institutions are being set up and legal instruments enacted. But as long as we don't focus and challenge our mindset on issues of enforcement and needless interference for them to work, then we surely have a long way to go.

Abdallah Issah