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19.12.2012 Feature Article

Can We Ever Learn From Our Mistakes?

Justice of the Court of Appeal, Yaw AppauJustice of the Court of Appeal, Yaw Appau
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Making decisions and implementing them to deal with the needs of citizens is no doubt a major concern of every good government.

A good government is expected to protect the rights and entitlements of its citizens, make decisions that are open and transparent, be accountable to its citizens and improve the living conditions of its people.

However, good record-keeping is the pivot of good governance. Unfortunately, as a nation, we seem not to be serious with record-keeping.

Some retired workers literally go through hell when it comes to the processing of their entitlements simply because their personal files could not be traced.

There are instances when justice delivery delays because the relevant dockets/records on the cases could not be found.

Corrupt officials sometimes escape punishment with ease just because the relevant documents to be used to prosecute them are either destroyed or could not be traced.

It is on this note that I was quite disappointed that in answering questions on corruption and good governance during the final IEA presidential debate, none of the presidential candidates talked about resourcing or strengthening the Public Records and Archives Administration Department (PRAAD) whose responsibility it is, per Act 535 of 1997 to ensure that Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) keep proper records.

It is sad that we do not attach the necessary importance to record-keeping.

How many companies or organizations employed professional archivists to manage their records? We are all witnesses of a number of government offices/organizations that were destroyed by fire resulting in vital documents being destroyed. The question is: Do those offices have back-ups of their records? Or the records were lost, and lost forever? So when at all are we going to learn lessons from not keeping proper records?

It is indeed good news that much progress is being made to pass the freedom of information bill into law. There is no doubt that the law, when passed, would help deepen our democracy. But the truth is that if we do not keep records, which are the major source of information properly, it would be almost impossible for us to have easy and timely access to information.

Did I hear that those who appeared before the Sole Commissioner on Judgment Debts pleaded to be given more time to submit some documents relating to the payment of judgment debts because the records were not readily available? Well, I hope and pray that those documents are finally found.

Sammy Dzandu
E-mail : [email protected]

Sammy Dzandu
Sammy Dzandu, © 2012

The author has 15 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: SammyDzandu

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