12.12.2009 Feature Article

Enter Kwame Pianim: the Go-Between in Bribery and Corruption

Kwame PianimKwame Pianim
12.12.2009 LISTEN

Don Vito Corleone, the Godfather, made interesting observation; that every man has a price and if you made the correct offer, one could not refuse it. It has been said time and time again corruption and poor leadership is the bane of our development. President John Kufour captured the frustration and aspiration of the country when he made “zero tolerance for corruption” the centerpiece in uprooting this canker from our midst, at least from official circles, and to that he was entrusted with the mandate to rule the country. But maybe since he was unable to strike the right balance between rule of law and forceful push to remove corruption, his achievement in that area left much to be desired. Then was the other John before him, President John Rawlings, the Godfather of probity and accountability. No amount of sanctimony and preaching yielded any desirable results; high handed he was, but we have to read between the lines, corruption and erosion of human rights go hand in hand. Most despots are corrupt as hell, and as events would reveal, he was deeply duplicitous in briberies all over the place, even whilst he maintained a façade of righteousness and anti-corruption crusader. One would not have to look far beyond Scancem, M & J, and the confiscation of others assets whilst never accounting for his own assets and nouveau riche, to know Rawlings is corrupt.

So it must be a jolt of stunning disbelief when on Monday December 07, 2009 Kwame Pianim, a socialite and constant fixture on the Ghanaian political scene spoke highly of President John Evans Atta Mills and his capacity to fight corruption, saying “Ghana was fortunate to have him as a president who would not steal from the people because he had seen him on two occasions to return 'brown envelopes' which had been offered him as bribes – something he did not see under ex-presidents Jerry John Rawlings and John Agyekum Kufour”. The occasion was a Joy FM/Coconut Grove Hotels consensus-building forum dubbed Joy FM Debate 2009.

It is very mind boggling how many of us are ready to praise Prof Mills whilst not doing any thorough analysis of the comment from Pianim. Does Kwame Pianim assertion that Atta Mills is not corrupt invariably also mean Atta Mills is incorruptible? How do you square that up against the universal acknowledgement of man's fallibility? That everybody has a price and if the price is right, even so many people who preach from tree tops can be bought. If JJ Rawlings, who killed so many people, and lashed at the bare backs and buttocks of market women for being just business women and responding to the invisible hands of demand and supply, could be bought by Scandinavian cement company, and whose wife was the recipient of many contractor “donations” to run their political campaigns, of which John Atta Mills is the present beneficiary, one must recognize the power of money to bend the will of most man. We are not angels, sin is in us, we are corruptible, so the sooner we recognize this and put laws, institutions and regulations in place to mitigate against those tendencies the better it would be for all of us. It would be fool hardy to dwell on hope and trust alone. I don't want to trust Mills or any man, I want institutions in place with the requisite punishment to deter and keep us honest.

Many things should stir our agile minds when somebody makes such sweeping assertions like the one made by Kwame Pianim. The first is how convenient and coincidental that Kwame Pianim was present when “brown envelopes” were dropped off during the various times he ensconced the three Johns? We know bribes in official circles are struck in secrecy, so how cavalier were the bribe givers in these occasions that even innocent “I was minding my own business” Kwame Pianim became privy to the amoral transactions? What business was he transacting in the company of these gentlemen that he became witness to these bribe giving and takings?

Let's take the guesses out of the equation and focus on the man Kwame Pianim. We know Kwame is a high roller power broker and had on many occasions tried to climb up the highest office of the land through both legitimate and illegitimate means but the consequences of his past transgressions denied him the chance of making it to the top a la the NPP.

Given that the guy is said to be an economist, businessman and politician, can it be speculated that it was nobody other than he Pianim himself and his business associates that tried to bribe all the three Johns, namely John Rawlings, John Kufour and John Mills? What is the probability that he would just be a casual bystander who witnessed all the various occasions the Johns were offered bribes? This same man is said to be a stalwart NPP man, but perhaps we have to see him for what he truly is: a lobbyist who lobbies governments on behalf of his business interests? Nobody in his right sense would put money in brown envelopes and walk up to a president in the full glare of third parties, unless the messenger is himself the vessel for such bribery attempts. I conclude that Kwame Pianim should be subpoenaed to go to parliament to substantiate his statements, in that he has by that statement implicated all the three Johns in bribery scandals.

Kwame Pianim is the person who offered the bribes, on his own behalf or business associates, for how did he know the envelopes given to Mills and the other Johns were stuffed with money, unless he was privy to it, the very reason why Mills did not take the bait, knowing very well Pianim was an NPP man who might double cross him. It is not like Atta Mills would not take bribe, of course he is human and corruptible but like hen, he does not lay eggs in open public or in a crowd. Bayi kwasea na otu ewia.

So since Pianim is the primary suspect and vessel for such bribery attempts, a felony of the highest level - trying to bribe a head of state, Pianim should be hauled before the courts if he fails to back up his statement. In a very crude way his very exultation of Mills does not exonerate Mills, the president should have caused the arrest of Pianim for attempting to bribe him. This case has serious consequence for the image of the country on the corruption index scale; Kwame Pianim has indicted all the highest office holders of the country since the commencement of the fourth republic. What better way to make an example of him and the people he tried to bribe. He is the serial go-between who keeps corrupting and bribing our leaders to achieve his narrow selfish goals. We have to conclude those goals are inimical to our collective national interests. He comes in the class of local men who front for multi-national corporations to push over or set aside national regulations. He and the likes of PV Obeng, Daniel Agbodakpi, Dr. Anane, Sipa Yankey, Kwame Peprah, etc, pray and sing from the same hymn book. These are the sons of the land who have sold us to the highest bidder and he was not even ashamed to reveal his own complicity.

By: Eric Kwasi Bottah (alias Oyokoba)

Development / Accra / Ghana / Africa /

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