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23.06.2005 Press Review

EDITORIAL: Let Us Not Make Excuses

Ghanaian Chronicle

It is commendable that the current crop of African leaders has taken the initiative to examine themselves and the institutions of state that facilitate their governance.

Ghana and Rwanda need a lot of commendation for their courage in voluntarily surrendering themselves to be the first to be measured on the scale of Africa's home-grown, African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM).

The Chronicle would like to appeal to the government, not to discredit the findings of the report, especially, as the defects observed have more to do with the lack of institutional capacity.

Some of these inadequacies predate the present government, but are matters that have been raised several times over here in Ghana, not just by opposition party elements, but also by civil society groups.

It would not be surprising to hear some of the groups that have raised some of these concerns, start shouting, "we told you so."

The recognition that these constraints to our capacity building and effective governance exist, constitute the first step to thinking of, and fashioning out, appropriate solutions.

The Chronicle, had criticized the government over the oversized nature of its ministerial appointments. We had argued for instance that appointing deputy regional ministers would further inhibit decision-making at the local level, as District Chief Executives, who are direct representatives of the President, already work under regional ministers.

On corruption, The Chronicle had expressed disappointment at government's attitude to the canker, especially, when very serious allegations about it have come from members of the ruling party.

Furthermore, we have decried the President's position on allegations of corruption, since his position on it runs counter to what the Constitution of the Republic that he has sworn to uphold, indicates as worthy of attention.

Our position rests on the Constitutional provision on the functions of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) in Article 218(e) that shall include, the duty "to investigate all instances of alleged or suspected corruption and the misappropriation of public moneys by officials and to take appropriate steps, including reports to the Attorney-General and the Auditor-General, resulting from such investigations."

If reports of such investigations were to be delivered to the Auditor-General, and the Attorney-General, who is also the state Prosecutor, then any hint given by the President that a matter is not worth investigating would inhibit the investigating body, since the president has already ruled on the matter as unworthy of investigations.

The Constitutional position on these matters is very clear from the above, in the words, "to investigate all instances of alleged or suspected corruption and misappropriation of public moneys by officials." It is clear that it is allegations or suspicions that ought to be investigated, therefore it is an affront to the Constitution, when the President sends the wrong signals that it is incumbent on those drawing government's attention to incidents of corruption to produce evidence.

Investigations establish evidence or the lack of it for prosecution or non-prosecution!

The other areas where we did not perform too well, have more to do with setting our priorities right, through resource allocation, as well as monitoring and supervision of public programmes and projects to maximize benefits from such allocations.

The Chronicle hopes that we shall not make excuses, but come up with the appropriate countervailing measures, as the APRM requires, so that we shall collectively deal with these identified shortfalls, for our democratic advancement.