We are all supposed to say, “no!” to corruption; but we usually don’t.
In Ghana, having convenience correlates positively with corruption.
It is convenient to rather give the policeman or woman the GH¢20, than to be dragged to the Motor Traffic and Transport Directorate (MMTD) to be processed for court and have one’s whole day wasted.
And the policemen and women are skilful in delaying or wasting one’s time and to get their victims in a frustrated state that will make them do anything they want, including parting with money!
The country’s anti-corruption strategy, the National Anti-Corruption Action Plan (NACAP), however, enjoins all citizens to have integrity and report all forms of corrupt behaviour.
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It gives roles to all the major stakeholders listed in the document; the Executive, public sector organisations, Parliament, the Judiciary, anti-corruption and law enforcement agencies, independent governance institutions, the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), the media, civil society organisations, the private sector, traditional authorities and religious bodies, as well as political parties and development partners.
For citizens, that is you and I, we are watchdogs, and we are supposed to report corruption and not be a part of it.
“Citizens should serve as anti-corruption watchdogs and be encouraged and supported to report corrupt practices to the appropriate anti-corruption and law enforcement agencies. Citizens must demonstrate integrity and say no to corruption,” the NACAP 2014-2024 states under sub-section 4.8.9.
In serving as watchdogs, the strategy prescribes the empowering of citizens to say no to vote-buying, bribery and all forms of corruption.
Independent governance institutions such as the National Commission on Civic Education (NCCE), the Electoral Commission (EC), the National Media Commission (NMC) and the Auditor General’s office are the ones charged with the task of sensitising and educating citizens on the dire consequences of corruption, for them to gain a low tolerance of it.
Interestingly, religious bodies, lumped with traditional authorities ,are to preach the anti-corruption message, re-examine the country’s value system as a prelude to engaging their constituents in the anti-corruption drive, develop for themselves a code of conduct and adhere to strict principles of transparency and accountability in relation to the funds entrusted to them by their constituents.
How citizens are to be “encouraged and supported to report corrupt practices to the appropriate anti-corruption and law enforcement agencies,” is a challenge.
I wonder who the “the appropriate anti-corruption and law enforcement agencies” we are supposed to report corrupt practices to are.
Are they the same policemen and women who make it their practice of collecting bribes?
With civil society organisations, some, such as the Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC), have started engaging the media and other stakeholders on the NACAP.
Our chiefs and pastors are also to engage us, first by the re-examination of the country’s value system.
The question again is whether we have anything like a “Ghana value system”?
Maybe we used to have in the past, but not currently with everyone trying to get rich by all means.
Adopting a code of conduct would be an interesting feat for chiefs and pastors.
For chiefs, perhaps, traditional and cultural norms in various traditional areas could be reviewed and expanded for such a code of conduct.
For pastors, perhaps, biblical principles frowning upon corrupt practices should be the starting point.
The catch, however, is the prescription to “adhere to strict principles of transparency and accountability in relation to the funds entrusted to them by their constituents.”
Congregations do not normally entrust funds to their pastors. They give to them wholeheartedly, most times in honour of their status as men and women of God.
As the executive leads in the implementation of NACAP, we expect to be clear on our roles as anti-corruption campaigners.