Reject Corrupt Political Leaders — Archbishop Sarpong
The Metropolitan Catholic Archbishop Emeritus of the Kumasi Diocese, Most Rev Peter Kwasi Sarpong, has called on the electorate to register massively for the December 2008 elections and vote in their numbers.
He said the electorate should, however, reject corrupt leaders who may entice them with money, in both the parliamentary and presidential elections and explained that such politicians who offered bribes to entice the electorate to vote for them would have nothing to offer the state.
Archbishop Sarpong made the call during in an interview with the Daily Graphic at the Catholic Secretariat in Kumasi.
The interaction covered many issues, including religion and politics, the forthcoming general election, the challenges that confronted him during his active religious activities and his contributions to the socio-economic development of Ghana.
Quoting Pope Benedict XI to support his statement, Archbishop Sarpong noted that “Africa needs saintly politicians and holy heads of state whose activities would have positive influence on the people.”
“The money they offer you for your votes, is a testimony of their character as corrupt leaders who would like to bribe you to be in high office. Make sure that you do not allow their money to influence your votes in any way. This is because such people do not deserve to be your leaders”, he advised.
Archbishop Sarpong explained that “accepting money to vote for corrupt officials indicates that you are selling your conscience to corrupt men and women and preparing the grounds to entrench corruption in the system instead of helping to uproot them”.
He said it was time Ghanaians were guided by the dictates of their conscience to elect God-fearing leaders who would put the welfare of the nation first in all their actions and programmes.
Stressing his points, he said, it was only when God-fearing people were elected to higher positions that Ghana would realise her dream of joining middle income states at the stipulated period.
“This is because such people would have the welfare of the people at heart and would therefore initiate policies and programmes that would impact positively on their life”, he explained.
Archbishop Sarpong said it was equally important for supporters of the various political parties to refrain from actions that would undermine state security and create anarchy before, during or after the December general elections.
“Why should you cause violence or get yourself killed because of the political ambition of somebody?” He questioned, adding, “This message should be preached at all corners of the country for the electorate to appreciate the need to conduct themselves peacefully in this election year.”
He said by the tenets of our constitution, everybody had the right to join any political party and “vote for a candidate of his choice but this should not create any rancour or bitterness among the political opponents and their supporters."
Archbishop Sarpong also appealed to the electorate to refrain from provoking their opponents if their favourites won the elections. “You should by all means jubilate over your victory, but do not do anything that would provoke the losing side”, he advised.
On religion and politics, Archbishop Sarpong said religious leaders had the right to speak on political issues and that “religion cannot be separated from politics because the human being is both religious and political, and since politics and religion are about promoting the welfare of human beings, there is no way the two could be separated.
“We cannot draw any line of demarcation between religion and politics because the two are woven together and that is what it should be” Archbishop Sarpong said the dichotomy of attempting to separate religion from politics “is what is spelling the doom of Ghana.”
He pointed out that it was wrong for religious leaders to actively participate in partisan politics because doing that would alienate their congregation, but also added that politicians who attempted to separate religion from politics were those who would also go to any length to give or take bribes in the course of serving the state, or cheat for their own benefit at the expense of the state.
“Religion promotes good politics,” he stressed, adding, “If you are a good religious person, then you are fighting for the welfare of your people, and not for your own interest, and so long as we continue to separate religion from politics, the welfare of the people would be taken for granted”, he added.
Story by George Ernest Asare