The much touted zero tolerance of corruption campaign is not making a dent in the level of corruption in the country. It behooves the powers that be, therefore, to reappraise the strategies and make adjustments. Astute political and military leaders constantly or periodically assess the impact of their policies and strategies to adjust them to the realities on the ground.
The global world has witnessed Bush classically engaging is such assessment with the debacle in Iraq. Bush has responded to the unnreproducible circumstances in Iraq. Let our President also subject his idea of zero tolerance of corruption campaign to such scrutiny. The test of an idea for survival is not its immutability but its adaptability.
The campaign as it exists now is in a reactionary mode. The President is patiently awaiting corrupt act to take place for him to react. It could be argued and perhaps rightly so, that if he does not have knowledge of any corrupt act, he would not have the opportunity to exhibit his intolerance zealously and with singular fervor. In the meantime many Ghanaians and one outside organization contend that corruption is on the ascendancy in the country. It is an opportune a time to be proactive as time is running out.
Bribery and corruption are the different sides of the same coin. Bribe is given and received in most government agencies where citizens are served. Members of the Ghana Police demand bribe daily if not every hour. We know the judiciary system is corrupt because some justices receive bribe regularly. Doctors, if not technicians at the country’s hospitals accept bribe before they place corpses in the mortuary. Government officials accept bribes routinely before issuing passports, birth and death certificates. In the custom department, an elaborate system exists where a substantial percentage of duties paid go into the bottomless pockets of private individuals. Many Ghanaians obtain driving license without visiting the offices where licenses are issued. The list is inexhaustible. In the USA law enforcement agents have a way of handling situations like this. They infiltrate. Infiltration per se does not end the practice; it creates doubt in the mind of the perpetrators (givers a! nd receivers of bribe).
Recent news reports have it that the President’s household staff is in excess of his immediate needs. It is suggested that some of members of this excess staff could be co-opted to form a special unit that should be provided with state of the act cameras and listening devices to capture on camera such rampant incidents of bribery in our society. As an example, an agent would import some merchandise and be authorized to clear the goods when they arrive at Tema or Takoradi. With such hidden instruments he/she could capture the process of corruption on camera and audio. Law intelligence officers in the USA routinely buy drugs and capture the drug sellers. Same could be done in Ghana by detailing agents to apply for birth certificate and passport and capture the proceedings on camera as evidence. When such incidents are reported and perpetrators indicted and incarcerated, it could serve as deterrent to other civil servants with similar proclivities. There is no guarantee that su! ch incidents in themselves would eliminate corruption; it would definitely minimize the incidence. Care should be taken however, to rein such activities in order not for it to be used against political opponents. In the middle of the 1960’s after K. A. Gbedemah had fled the country, he started inundating Ghanaians with propaganda letters. To stem the flow of such letters, the CPP Administration installed a unit in the office of the Director of the Post and Telecommunication to secretly open suspicious in-coming mails from Europe. With lapse of time, the unit became one of the secret weapons used to harass non CPP members.
We would not have progress if we continue to do things the same ways we have ever done them. In addition, to achieve a single purpose, sane men adapt their policies to circumstances. Those who do not are insane. Ideas are tools-like pestle or ladder- that we must devise to cope with the world in which we find ourselves.
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November 16, 2003
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