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13.02.2009 Feature Article

Private versus Public life

Should the private life of public officials be taken into account be they are hired or fired?

A number of people have argued that the private lives of our leaders should not be taken in to account before they are hired or fired. In recent years, this issue has generated a lot of debate in the public domain from the Northern to the southern hemisphere.

In 1998 then President Bill Clinton of USA almost lost his position as the leader of the most powerful nation on earth, when he fell from the pinnacle of grace into the shambles of grass. As we know, Bill Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky became public and a group of senators moved a motion for his impeachment. Even though he was not impeached, his party went on to loose the election in 2000 to the GOP, which some political analyst partly attributed to the troubles caused by this affair.

Another example is what happened in South Africa, when the then Vice President Jacob Zuma lost his seat of power as a result of an affair he had with an AIDS patient and then claimed he had a shower after that hence he would be free from contracting the disease. Part of the charges levelled against him was that of corruption, which he is still been tried for.

Here in Ghana, the issue of public officials being judged based on their private life has generated a lot of controversies. Some are of the opinion that if it does not interfere with their job then they should not be judged on that. Others too say that a public official must be an example to those he is serving and leading. Therefore their private lives really matter.

A couple of years ago, issues about Hon. Alban Bagbin came to the attention of the nation, regarding his relationship with his wife's sister. He had an affair with her and even moved to 'register' her as a second wife. Hmmm! When he was contacted, he said that is his private life and it was permitted in his culture. Dr Richard Anane's moral standing was been questioned by the then Parliaments' Appointments Committee and the public when it was alleged that he had sent about $90,000 to Alexandria O'Brien, an American lady, he had an affair with. To be fair to him, Dr Anane admitted to the affair with the lady with whom he had a child and said it was "regrettable" and an act of indiscretion. As to where he got the money from and whether this money could have been invested in Ghana is another thing all together.

Last but not the least we are now hearing about how Hon. Moses Asaga's marital trouble could have affected his chances of becoming a minister (Source: the Gye Nyame Concord).

The answers some pro- private life activist pose is, if someone has a history of stealing, would he not steal from the public coffers when appointed? If the person is a womanizer, would this not affect his judgement and start favouring his concubines and concubines' families over people who have a genuine potential to do a better job?

Some too argue that if the person can do his job well and show that in spite of their weaknesses they can deliver, then they should be given a chance. I would be delighted to know what you think. I have deliberately reserved my personal thoughts for now. I would be very delighted to hear what you have to say about this topic.

My findings will be published at a later date. Please post your sensible comments or send them to Kweku Objective.

By: Kweku Afful, a.k.a Dr. Objective. [Email:[email protected]]

(This writer is always asking intuitive questions that will aid national development. My objective is to see a 'corruption free' Ghana where people are given equal opportunities to excel irrespective of their tribe, colour, creed, religion, gender or age. Join Kweku Objective on this crusade)

Kweku Afful
Kweku Afful, © 2009

This author has authored 32 publications on Modern Ghana. Author column: KwekuAfful

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