Send-Ghana, a civil society organization blames governments for inherently providing fertile ground on which corruption breeds. It says this happens as a result of the lack of political will to implement existing systems to aid the fight against corruption and calls on government to demonstrate its commitment. It also said the perceived corruption in Ghana undoubtedly has negatively affected every facet of the Ghanaian economy.
Rachel Jabaah, Program Manager for Send-Ghana revealed that several socio-cultural practices also hinder the fight against corruption. According to her the culture of giving ‘gifts’ which she termed ‘palm-greasing’ is gradually being accepted in almost all institutions.
Ms Jabaah said this practice denies people certain services due them and they end up paying for it. She cautioned citizens not to mistake bribes for gifts since there is a thin line between them.
She said this during a civic engagement forum at Malzeri, a community in the Yendi Municipality. The forum which was being run concurrently with another in the Yendi township was on the theme; “Working towards Increased Government Accountability”
The engagement forms part of activities to strengthen the capacities of civil society while empowering citizens to report and hold institutions accountable in the execution of their mandate.
The fight against corruption is being touted by the GI Consortium which forms part of a broader USAID programme on governance; Accountable Democratic Institutions and Systems Strengthening (ADISS). The four-year programme which started two years ago is being implemented in five Districts – Tolon, Tamale metro, Yendi, Savelugu and West Mamprusi.
The GI Consortium is made up of the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC) and Send-Ghana. The project is being funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The forum provided opportunity for the National Commission on Civic Education (NCCE) and the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) who took turns to address the gathering.
Nantomah Adam Baani, Regional Anti-Corruption Focal Person for the Commission on Human Right and Administrative Justice appealed for tougher punishment for people found guilty of corrupt practices.
“If you imprison someone for 2 years for stealing billions, you have done nothing vis-a-vis the socio-economic implications on society, hence the criminal code on corruption needs to be reviewed to provide for severe punishment which would serve as a deterrent to others” he said. He called on citizens to be more proactive and assist in the fight against the global canker.
A resident, Mr Ibrahim Iddi however said they are unable to participate and push for the right thing to be done in the case of contractors duping them since community opinion leaders are not involved in the contract awarding process. “Since we don’t know the amount involved, how do we know if the contractor is doing a quality work or not” he questioned.
His claim was backed by many others who complained their non inclusion in decision making on issues that bordered the community especially where money is involved. They also identified the lackadaisical manner in which cases are being handled as basis for their unwillingness to report cases. They blamed politicians whom they say have wielded so much power to let culprits go unpunished with just a phone call.
Story By: Alima Bawa/Tamale