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28.05.2005 Feature Article

Alleged Bribery And Corruption: Govt Is Not The Culprit

Alleged   Bribery   And  Corruption: Govt  Is Not The  Culprit
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I will open the discourse with the definition of bribery and corruption and the root cause of it in Ghana and other African countries. According to Chambers Concise Dictionary (2004), corruption is the process of corrupting or condition of being corrupt OR dishonesty. For the benefit of this commentary,I will dwell on the two definitions.

To corrupt is to bribe. To bribe is to gain influence over or co-operation from someone, by offering a bribe.A bribe(noun) is a gift, usually money offered to someone to persuade them to do something illegal or improper. OR something offered to someone in order to persuade them to behave in a certain way. Bribery (noun) is the act or practice of offering or taking bribes.

Background: Under colonialism, corruption may serve as a mode of transition from a traditional economy(based on exchange of gifts) to a modern one (based on the cash nexus). Under neo-colonialism, corruption plays a different role,as a mode of capital Accumulation of an economically powerless elite that tries to gain clout in the small margin left to it by international capital.(Pieterse,1982).

Corruption always equates to DISHONESTY.I will address the problem under two levels:namely,micro-level which is what I term the`roots` of the problem;and the macro-level which is the `trunk` of it. My concern at the moment is with the micro-level of bribery and corruption because that lead to the macro-level whereby the elites in society Get involve or engage in the serious `dealings` in the bribery and corruption process.

Micro-level of bribery and corruption:

Before the seventies, HONESTY was at the highest level in Ghanaian society.Sadly enough, honesty is now at its lowest end. The following are examples of bribery and corruption at micro-level.

`Kalabule`, probably from Hausa expression `Kere`,`Kabure`,keep it quiet has become the common term for corruption and the word has become part of our lexicon.

Deception within the family-When money is sent home for a family member to build a house and fails to do so; and then takes a photograph of a `fake` building and send it to the Relative abroad,this is dishonesty.

A cashier at the bank/forex bureau failing to give you the right amount of cedis when Exchanging foreign currency into cedis.Human Resource practitioner/Manager who selects a mediocre applicant rather than a competent person is tantamount to dishonesty.

Accountants fiddling and `massaging` figures to dupe a company is another serious fraud.

Payment of utility bills-In the West, it becomes a habit forming for adults to pay their Utility bills`religiously` at the official channels when they receive their wages/salaries.

If a Ghanaian goes through the`back door` to pay for the water/electricity/phone bills, That too is a form of bribery and corruption at the micro-level. SSS/Polytechnic/University admissions-Headmaster,Headmistress at SSS and admission officers at Polytechnic and Universities who offer places to the child of the rich with poor grades instead of a poor child with higher grades are NOT selecting prospective students based on ability or merit.This situation has led to expulsion of enrolled students From KNUST and Legon due to non-performance.In Britain, parents do not `physically` get involve looking for admissions for their children.Admissions are based on merit/ability,the only difference is that there are many institutions to choose from.

I classify this example as a form of bribery and corruption.

Narcotic smuggling/students cheating: I have observed that most people in Ghana NOW Want to be a `millionaire` by indulging themselves in dubious activities like drug trafficking.An attempt by 51 year-old business woman to smuggle one million dollars Worth of Narcotic drug(cocaine) through KIA recently is another example of dishonest trade, a form of bribery and corruption.Congratulations to the staff at Narcotic Board.

Students cheating in the examination room by smuggling notes into the Hall is a form Deception. Evation of Taxes etc are examples of micro-level form of bribery and corruption in our society.We need to TACKLE this level FIRST NOW.

Ghost names on the pay rolls are forms of bribery and corruption which ordinary Ghanaians are unable to detect in our society.

I leave my readers to continue with examples from their own experience and to discuss My micro-level of bribery and corruption with friends and families.

Macro-level of bribery and corruption:

Flight of Capital from Third World Countries to the Rich West-There has been allegation Of `African Leaders Swiss Bank Account`. To quote part of the statement issued by the private Newspaper Association of Ghana on Their return from a visit to Switzerland(27/4/05). The Executive Board of the Swiss Bank Association allegedly told them that `African Leaders used the names of their children,friends,relatives,even bodyguards to open accounts in Swiss banks`. `The Swiss,however, blamed African leaders and other high ranking personalities, whom They referred to as `politically exposed person`,who had STASHED away monies in Swiss banks OVER THE YEARS`.

Flight of Capital from the poor countries to the Rich Countries does NOT help the poor People at home.The money is IDLE.The only beneficiaries are the people living in the West Because the money is invested by the banks to create jobs for their people.What is the logic In it? Think about it. In a democratic country like Ghana, one is INNOCENT until one is found guilty.Allegation of African Leaders Swiss Bank accounts is difficult to prove and to identify.Only the Western Bankers have reliable information.Not until these Leaders And their Cronies are exposed, they will continue to be free to enjoy their ill-gotten wealth whilst the poor people in Africa suffer.

Alleged bribery and corruption is not always with the Government alone.ALL OF US PERPETUATE the social ill and we become part of the problem.Not until People come forward with FACTS and FIGURES rather than FICTION to reveal Bribery and corruption allegation in our society,we will waste our precious time Talking about it without finding SOLUTIONS to my micro-level of bribery and corruption in our society.

So far the, the only past African Leaders who have been widely exposed were MOBUTU(Zaire) and ABACHA(Nigeria). The rest are free for the time being. Time will tell.The British will say` what goes round comes round.`

Mr Blair, the British Prime Minister, the President of G8 of Rich Countries, is interested in Assisting the poor African countries retrieve their stolen money stashed in foreign banks.

Let us pray that Mr Blair and Mr Gordon Brown,the predicted successor, carry out their promise to help the Africans to alleviate their poverty during their stay in office.

However,there is a saying that `God helps those who help themselves`. The West can initiate this noble idea,but AFRICANS should put their act together.We should be HONEST with ourselves,come out with CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISMS,UNBIASED REPORTING in the MEDIA,finding ways to minimize flight of capital so as to tackle One of our main obstacles of our `UNDERDEVELOPMENT`at the moment. Conclusion/Way Forward We should address the problem by targeting both the GIVER and the TAKER in the bribery and corruption process.Both are CULPRITS. Not until African Leaders too are exposed and the money repatriated to their respective Countries ,the problem of poverty, diseases, and corruption will remain with us.

For the meantime, I suggest that the NATIONAL COMMISSION FOR CIVIC EDUCATION be give ADDITIONAL ROLE/FUNCTION to start the Bribery and Corruption CRUSADE at the MICRO-LEVEL of my discourse.

By targeting the Schools/Colleges/Universities, Churches, mosques and Workplaces they could educate the people about the SOCIO-ECONOMIC effect of bribery and corruption.

OVER TO YOU FELLOW GHANAIANS. (Yaw) Owusu-Ansah BOAFO (Freelance Sociologist/Social Scientist) LONDON-UK Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.