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'Religion must play part in corruption fight'

By The Statesman

Ghana Integrity Initiative, the local chapter of Transparency International, a civil empowerment organisation that focuses on the fight against corruption has underscored the need for the various religious bodies to actively get involved in the country's anti-corruption crusade.

They have also been charged to show a high sense of discipline and decorum as ministers of the religion, as a way to demonstrate to their congregations the need for them to abstain from indulging in corrupt practices.

The Executive Secretary of the GII, Vitus A Azeem made this appeal at the opening of a two day ethics workshop in Kumasi at the weekend.

The workshop, under the theme "Zero tolerance against corruption campaign: The role of religious bodies in Ghana', was organized by the Ghana Integrity Initiative under the theme in collaboration with the Christian Council of Ghana, the National Catholic Secretariat and the Almadiyya Muslim Mission of Ghana.

Transparency International and Ghana Integrity Initiative does not investigate nor expose individual cases of corruption but lobbies for institutional and structural reforms aimed at curbing corruption.

According to the Executive Secretary, since most politicians as well as Chief Executives of public and private institutions belonged to either of the religions, it was important for the religious leaders to preach against indiscipline and corruption on their pulpits.

"Ghanaians listen to their religious leaders and they play a major role in shaping the character of their members who are the same people working as public and private officials in the MDAs, politics, CSOs, academia etc.

Therefore it was only strategic that GII in exploring avenues for collaboration to broaden anti-corruption advocacy, identified religious bodies as a vital platform and resource, hence, this collaboration.'

Mr Azeem added that such collaboration had yielded positive results in Uganda and Senegal and was hopeful that similar feats would be chalked in the country if stakeholders commit themselves to the cause of the collaboration.

Vitus A Azeem said to further help fight the canker, GII was initiating a process to institute an Ethics Education Programme for religious bodies in Ghana to enhance stronger and proactive leadership in the fight against corruption, while creating awareness among religious bodies about the level of corruption and its impact on the economy and the mechanisms in place for fighting them.

He stated that in their resolve to fight the menace, religious bodies will gain more credibility as champions of transparency and accountability if they (religious leaders) practice the virtue they preach, noting "a corrupt religious body can never challenge a corrupt society'.

The Head Pastor of Grace Baptist Church at Amakom in Kumasi, Rev. Dr. Kojo-Wusuh, the chairmen of the workshop maintained that in order to win the fight against corruption, it was necessary to put corruption into its proper perspective and clearly define it, outline its manifestation, negative effects, design and implement effective strategies to fight it.

Rev. Kojo-Wusuh also observed that apart from involving religious bodies in the fight, there was the urgent need to empower and adequately resource accountability institutions to investigate allegations of corruption and ensure that officials found culpable were dealt with without any political interference.

He said the GII was hoping to obtain a strong commitment from religious leaders to join the fight against corruption through their words and actions.