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18.10.2008 NDC News

NDC, THE BALL IS IN YOUR COURT

By newtimesonline.com

The history of governance in Africa has been so bedevilled with corruption that even sworn apologists of African regimes, both civilian and military, pause to think twice before mounting a defence for them.

Of course, corruption is universal and rears its ugly head in both rich and poor countries. It is on record that some members of the British House of Commons, the American Senate, judges and government ministers in other advanced countries have been caught pants down in acts of corruption.

For those of us in Africa who would want to feel good about the fact that evil is not synonymous with the continent, and that even Europe and America also have their fair share of dictators and corrupt regimes, the examples from the rich countries may suffice.

But we submit that corruption is all the more insipient and evil in Africa because of the endemic poverty on the continent which has led us to go cup in hand year after year to borrow heavily to support our budgets, and depend on countries of the G8 for food.

So the Times is not about to put up a defence for any government of Ghana or any member of the present Government, including the President, if it is proved that they have been involved in acts of corruption.

Indeed, but for the press conference held by the President's Press Secretary, Mr Andrew Awuni yesterday in response to the allegations against the sitting President, the Times was going to use its editorial column today to ask the Castle to come clean on the matter.

While we are not concluding that the allegations by the NDC are false merely because the Press Secretary has denied them, we think that in the name of responsible criticism and fair comment on a matter of public interest, the NDC must substantiate the allegations.

One of the habits of free speech and press freedom in the Fourth Republic has been the tendency for journalists, politicians and so-called social commentators to make an allegation, refuse to substantiate when pressed to do so, and insist that “I stand by my story” even when it is clear that their allegations are unfounded.

Our hope is that this country is not going to be asked to go for lie detectors or subject anybody to chemical interrogation.

We think that by the President Press Secretary's challenge, NDC has been given its biggest opportunity yet to contribute to the stoppage of corruption in Ghana: it cannot let this chance slip by.

If the Ghanaian taxpayer's money is involved, then all Ghanaians should be interested in ensuring that we get to the bottom of this matter.

The ball is in the court of the NDC. It must either prove the allegations or do the most honourable thing: apologise, not to the President, but the people of this country.

Too often, allegations are made and allowed to die, creating room for speculation and lies.

For example, is it true that a Norway-based cement company ever made payments to some Ghanaian political parties and prominent politicians as alleged in a Norwegian court of law?

What has come of it?

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