Special prosecutor and the fight against corruption
Some months ago, we were all beside ourselves when the special prosecutor, Martin Amidu, was appointed. There was a lot of high sounding rhetoric.
Many people were confident that his mere appointment would be enough to curb the menace of corruption.
Mr Martin Amidu had built a reputation for himself as a man of conviction.
He is feared and admired by people from all sides of the political divide.
The President was waxing lyrical during his appointment. But he was not alone.
Everyone else was.
A number of attempts were made to prevent (if not hold back) his appointment.
A member of parliament initiated steps to challenge his appointment on the basis of his age.
These circumstances surrounding Mr Amidu’s appointment also made many want to keep an eye on how things were going to turn out under his leadership as the country’s first public prosecutor.
But the funfair is over. The chorus has died out.
The excitement has waned. And the reality has been made bare.
The man in whom the president was pleased in to assist in the fight against corruption barely has the tools he needs to fight the canker killing and depriving the nation of its future.
In the minds of many people, it is as if he has been lured and locked into a cage.
The fierce advocate has been left with no option but to openly express discontent with the manner in which he and his office has been treated.
How can one run this kind of office successfully by coming out to the public to shout in order for the needs of the office to be met?
In a recent article, he noted: “One year down the line it has only a small three-bed room house as an office woefully inadequate for lack of sheer physical space to accommodate any reasonable number of employees, lack of subsidiary legislation, and consequently also financially crippled without any ability to acquire the requisite expensive operational anti-corruption and other equipment for the office let alone to function efficiently.”
But what is happening to the office of the special prosecutor is not really unexpected. We have had a lot of experience with creating institutions just so we can satisfy our conscience and tick the relevant box on some index. As to whether we are really ready to fight corruption is another matter.
The classic case of institution creation without the needed commitment is the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ). This commission was established with a lot of hope and promise.
This hope and promise stemmed from the fact that the commission was a constitutional requirement and it was expected that a lot of things would be achieved with the commission being in force. But no. We haven’t achieved much.
The CHRAJ is hungry, destitute and highly restricted in terms of what its constitutional mandates are and what it’s doing now.
So the treatment of the office of the Special Prosecutor comes as little surprise. It is a “Ghanaian” thing.
At the pain of being repetitive, I will say this again. We are extremely good in creating institutions and terribly bad in making them work.
In fact, I dare say that we create institutions only to continue with the practice that the institution was brought into force to deal with.
If you for instance ask the president what his anti-corruption track record is, he will definitely say – look at the office of the special prosecutor.
I created it.
It is my handiwork. I am a corruption fighter.
Such a response hides a lot of things under the veil.
We are a monuments people. We like to have monuments and point out to them.
It takes money and resources to do a lot of things.
If it takes money to start a yam frying business and it takes money to run a functional post office, why would we think that it would take the “grace of God” to kick the special prosecutor’s office into force?
An office in the make and nature of the special prosecutor’s office cannot definitely operate without the needed resources.
We are not going to win the fight against corruption without being deliberate and specific about the kind of outcomes that we want.
A cavalier approach to the fight against corruption will inevitably lead to cavalier outcomes. You cannot certainly reap what you did not sow.
I don’t know how long the special prosecutor intends to hang in there.
But he must know this: The office of the special prosecutor will be a joke unless and until it is properly equipped to perform the functions that it is mandated to performed.
Until then, my humble advice to him will be – Check out as soon as you can!