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Press Review | Jan 25, 2005

EDITORIAL: Vetting Our Ministers

Ghanaian Chronicle

The vetting process is in full gear. Last week, the first set of seven Ministers went through a sober exercise and the Appointments Committee did well by staying though seven hours without any serious break to clear the first set of Ministers who are urgently required to begin the second term of the government's Positive Change. Ghanaians have been promised a time of great opportunities, particularly the youth who have been enjoined to train themselves to take advantage of the train that will be arriving with these opportunities.

Thanks to the explosion of information technology, developments in other countries are instantly and simultaneously transmitted to us in Ghana. The vetting in the United States was transmitted live and Ghanaians witnessed the process of vetting, and how it should be done. We watched in awe the high-octane level of adversarial vetting that characterized the choice of the US national security adviser, Ms. Condelesa Rice for the high office of Secretary of State.

It is not uncommon for us to refer to the high standards of doing business or politics in the US, and extolling the virtues of democratic practice there.

While we lavish praises on western standards and urge all to engineer our systems to 'be like theirs or be like them', we are also quick to find alibis to dumb down or lower the threshold when confronted with situations where those standards need to be applied. For example, over the last few years, at least two nominees for the position of Attorney General in the US have both faltered because they engaged illegal aliens as house-helps who lacked the appropriate resident permits. People in Ghana will wonder why 'such a small matter' should be used to disqualify highly qualified people with equally glittering accomplishments. It is all down to issues of accountability, morality and the high standards expected of public office holders.

The thoroughly horrific inquisition that characterized the nomination and examination of Justice Clarence Thomas for the US Supreme Court some five years ago, was another demonstration of the exceptionally high regard that is attached to the handling of sexual harassment in these democracies that we always strive to emulate. Yet, in Ghana, issues affecting women are quickly dispatched to the backburner, sometimes by other women, who then prefer to label such sins as pertaining to one's 'personal life', a no go area. The Chronicle has always taken a contrary position, and will proudly carry on with our crusade which we know may be a lonely one in a nation like Ghana where issues of morality are not given the respect and recognition they truly deserve.

When Dr. Richard Anane was touted by The Chronicle as a dead-beat father, just like Mr. Vincent Assiseh several years earlier, the man had the temerity to plead that it was his private matter.

And the two of them had a few subscribers to that completely wrong plea. Now, Dr. Richard Anane is due for vetting within the week, and is quoted as saying that whatever he had done with the American woman, which resulted in him having to spend over ยข600 million of his own money to keep the woman and the baby quiet in the US, is his private matter! There is the petition from one Kofi Ahmed Asamoah who purports to be a staff of the Ministry of Roads and Transport who has exhibited true courage for taking his boss on. Mr. Asamoah's allegations of corruption against his Minister are serious enough, and obviously require investigations by the press and Parliament.

On Monday, The Network Herald quoted the reaction of the Public Affairs Director of the Ministry, Mr. Kenneth Anku as denying any wrongdoing on the part of the Minister, and parroted what has become a classic Public relations gibberish that Anane himself put together, and gave to certain media houses that went to his aid last week.

He preferred to respond to the issues of corruption by pointing out to the world the length of feeder roads he had worked on by the end of 2004, and also the quality of roads. Ken Anku decided to insult Ghanaians by playing the role of a puppet in presenting a document produced by his Minister to deal with issues concerning corruption, and or expensive immoral conduct. It is the expectation of The Chronicle that the members of the Appointments Committee will not allow themselves to be so insulted.

The Chronicle believes that the vetting of Anane will give Ghanaians an opportunity to determine whether our MPs are serious about the business of Parliament or not; and also about how they treat issues concerning the treatment of women by men, such as sexual harassment. All eyes will be focused on Hajia Alima who seems to be the lone voice battling for women in the Appointments Committee.

The Chronicle can only urge the committee to be alert to their onerous responsibilities to mother Ghana and their own conscience.

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