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09.06.2004 Regional News

WILDAF holds forum on corruption

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Ho, June 9, GNA - The success of anti-corruption crusade in Ghana depended on peoples' willingness to question the actions of people in authority at all levels.

Mrs Hilary Gbedemah, Senior Legal Advisor of the Women In Law and Development in Africa ( WILDAF), made the point at a public forum on how to deal with corruption in Ghana at Ho on Wednesday.

The forum was at the opening session of a two-day workshop on the theme: "Fighting Corruption - An Agenda for Democracy and Good Governance", organized jointly by the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII) and National Commission on Civic Education (NCCE).

Participants would be expected to deliberate on topics such as " Manifestations of corruptions in Ghana Society and Civil Society Organisations, Districts Assemblies as Partners for Accountability and Good Governance and Enhancing Good Governance through effective decentralization; focus on District Assemblies."

Mrs Gbedemah said, "we ought to shift from the emphasis of hierarchy and our culture of not questioning authority".

"Let us begin nurturing democracy at home to promote equity and transparency and a decent language for questioning our leaders." In her view, the family unit should be starting point to develop a culture of incorruptibility, accountability, transparency and collective decision-making and Good Governance.

Mr Stephen Kwami Awunyo-Akaba, a Development Consultant, said laxity in the enforcement of regulations promote corruption in the country.

Mr Awunyo-Akaba, who was a former member of the Ho District Assembly, said for instance that for several years the Assembly did not have the opportunity to discuss its audited accounts. He said lack of supervision from the Regional Coordinating Council further compounded the situation.

He said it is therefore, important for critical stakeholders at all levels to commit themselves as individuals and institutions to "clean the whole system for more democracy, more good governance and less corruption."

Mr Maxwell Akoto-Mireku, Volta Regional Secretary of the TUC, said self -examination and equity in the sharing of national resources was important to tackling corruption and an easiness in the society. He said the general tendency for the citizenry to seek better conditions elsewhere was an indication of how bad the system had gone. Mr Daniel Batidan, the Executive Secretary of the GII, said the initiative focus was on public office holders because they preside over the public finance.

He contended that the practice of Regional Coordinating Councils to over burden the District Assemblies with protocol responsibilities undermines the already weak supervision they were expected to have over them.

He said the discretionary powers conferred on public officials gave them a great latitude to abuse their positions. He said many governments in Africa also declined to adopt international conversions against corruptions in governance for fear of being "handcuffed" by them.

Mr Batidan said the fight against corruption is therefore a collective responsibility by means of crusading, education, and community action, exposure and in the pulpit.