Know it, and fight it

BY: Caroline Boateng

Nepotism, conflict of interest, abuse of discretion and payment of facilitation fees are thought by Ghanaians not to be acts of corruption.

This was captured in the study, Corruption is Eating us up: A call to action, which was launched last year.

The survey showed that “while respondents were split on whether nepotism constituted an act of corruption, a majority of respondents (Ghanaians) believed that conflict of interest, abuse of discretion and the payment of facilitation fees were not forms of corruption.”

Out of the types of corruption presented to respondents to identify in testing their knowledge of the forms, bribery stood out as the most recognised. It was followed by embezzlement, fraud, favouritism, extortion and illegal contribution.

Nepotism is the practice of appointing relatives and friends in one’s organisation to positions for which outsiders might be better qualified.

Ghana News Headlines

For latest news in Ghana, visit Graphic Online news headlines page Ghana news page

Conflict of interest is a situation in which a person is in a position to derive personal benefit from actions or decisions made in their official capacity.

The abuse of discretion is the failure to take into proper consideration the facts and law relating to a particular matter; an arbitrariness or the unreasonable departure from standard procedure.

The payment of facilitation fees is like a bribe and consists of the payment to a government official to facilitate the approval of some business transaction.

The fact that nepotism, conflict of interest, abuse of discretion and the payment of facilitation are types of corruption unrecognised as such by Ghanaians, is a disincentive to the campaign against corruption.

It means that when confronted by these, they will be unable to identify them and pose cahllenges.

In September 2006, the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) gave a decision and made extensive recommendations in relation to conflict of interest and abuse of power.

The concepts, though captured under the 1992 Constitution, were hitherto unknown.

The Commission then, using international standards, sought to ensure that all forms of corrupt acts were appropriately known and dealt with.

Unfortunately, the Supreme Court in The Republic v Fast Track High Court, Accra; Ex-parte Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice, with Mr Richard Anane as an interested party, quashed that decision and the recommendations, removing them from the records of CHRAJ on grounds of jurisdictional error.

Fighting corruption cannot be effective without the thorough knowledge and appreciation of all its forms.

Citizens who are aware of all the presentations of corruption and who have the knowledge about how to deal with them are critical in any campaign.

Under the key elements of the National Anti-Corruption Action Plan (NACAP), which is the national strategy, public awareness and education are recognised as important.

Raising the awareness of the general public to the dangers of corruption and the duty on all to combat it, including education in building intolerance towards the canker are thought to be key prongs under NACAP.

 All these, however, takes resourcing the CHRAJ and the National Commission on Civic Education (NCCE) to engage Ghanaians on the issue.

The ideals of NACAP in campaigning vigorously for a corruption-free Ghana cannot be achieved if the public does not own the plan, and also if the plan is not led by the President himself.

He has already shown commitment to the establishment of the office of the Special Prosecutor.

However, the full import of the President’s commitment will be felt with his leadership in the implementation of NACAP.

It will mean the committing of resources, public statements of approval of ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) doing well with the implementation of the plan, and the President taking a personal interest in how NACAP is faring.