In the light of the recent charges of corruption leveled at the Mahama led administration this special feature looks at the issue of corruption in Ghana and who or what is to blame for the instances of corruption.
Before we delve into this issue, there is an important factor that needs to be tackled. In the Western media, the issues of corruption in Ghana and Afrika as a whole is treated with a vicious racial bias that implies that the Afrikan is innately corrupt and that this trait in the Afrikan explains why the continent is grossly under-developed and impoverished.
This assertion is completely false and is based on pure bigotry rather than actual fact.
Incidentally when one looks at corruption that has gripped the West such as the collapse of Barings Bank in 1995, ENRON, WorldCom, The Ralph Maddoff scandal, Lehman Brothers and Freddie Mac and Fanny Mae these have all involved White/European people and therefore dispels the myth that Afrikan people are somewhat innately corrupt. Added to this are incidents of mass corruption in countries such as India, China and Brazil.
Corruption in Ghana is not a new phenomenon as it has always been here but in recent years it seems to have taken sinister means.
The corruption in Ghana has been well documented from Mabey and Johnson, through to the Vodafone/Ghana Telecom scam, Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) GYEEDA, SADA and so forth.
Another dimension of the severe nature of the corruption in Ghana is the corruption such as the alleged theft of the monies collected on our various highways such as the Accra – Kasoa, Tema – Accra and Accra – Kumasi tolls.
Although many Ghanaians claim to be Christians and adhere to Christian tenets, the sad reality is that due to certain factors many Ghanaians are tempted into acts corruption.
From the mate in the trotro who overcharges for a trotro fare, to the civil servant that works at the Land Department who demands a ‘small fee’ in order to quickly process one’s land title documents, through to the government minister/official who accepts a bribe from a multi-national company seeking to do business in Ghana, corruption is rife in this society.
Multi-national company corruption:
Since Ghana gained independence but particularly in the last 30 years or so, corruption in Ghana has taken a sinister and deadly from. Let us not forget that it was corruption of the most grotesque nature that was responsible for the overthrow of Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first president.
This corruption was facilitated by a particular western agency and it is corruption by in particular western agencies and multi-national companies that I want to focus the readers’ minds on.
Bribes, kick-backs, back-hander’s, call it what you will has been a tool or weapon that Western governments and multi-national companies and more recently Arab, Indian and Chinese businesspeople have used to deceive Ghanaians and Afrikans as a whole into accepting deals, contracts, agreements, loans, financial assistance etc that has NOT been in the national/continental interest but in the interest of Western, Arab, Indian and Chinese companies and individuals operating in Ghana and Afrika.
This has happened because there has been a notion that has been cultivated by Europeans that the Ghanaian/Afrikan is prone to acts of corruption.
This notion was emphasized by the late notorious British tycoon Tiny Rowland (CEO of LONRHO mining company that operates in Zimbabwe and Southern Afrika) who once stated that he could buy an Afrikan with a cup of tea.
As such this diabolical practice of paying bribes by western governments and multi-national companies has become an acceptable way of conducting business in Ghana and Afrika as a whole.
The sole intent of this ruthless and canny policy is the re-colonization or neo-colonization of Ghana in general and Afrika as a whole with the prime objective to secure what the imperialists see as key prizes namely the ownership and control of key state assets like Ghana Telecom (GT).
As we have seen all over the continent there have been ways in which this policy of bribery has manifested itself. For example on 17th September 2002 a Canadian Engineering company called Acres International was convicted by a High Court in Lesotho for paying $260,000 bribe to secure an $8-billion dam contract.
Achair Partners a Swiss company and Progresso an Italian company have been accused of bribing Somalia Transitional Government officials to secure contracts to deposit highly toxic industrial waste in the waters of Somalia.
In 2002 Halliburton a US company, was accused of establishing $180m flush fund and of using it to bribe Nigerian officials in order to secure a $10-billion Liquefied Gas Plant contract. In response to the accusation the company fired Mr. Albert Jack Stanley.
Mr. Stanley a former executive of Halliburton (KBR) pleaded guilty for orchestrating the $180m flush fund. Such corrupt practices by western companies seeking contracts in Africa are not uncommon.
Switzerland and British economies were the main recipients and beneficiaries of SaniAbacha’s $5-billion embezzlement. When it was discovered that Abacha used the crooked banks in these countries to steal the money, Switzerland and Britain wanted to distance themselves from the criminal enterprises run by their banks but in the end had no choice but repatriate over $700-million to the Nigeria government after five years of foot dragging. Only heaven knows how much of Abacha’s loot still remain in these countries.
Finally on this issue according to the New York Times edition of 17 November 2009, TeodoroNguemaObiang, the son of the president of Equatorial Guinea has siphoned off millions of dollars from the country and bought himself a fleet of luxury cars, speed boats and a luxury mansion in Malibu, California – this at a time when the vast majority of Equatorial Guinea’s population live on less than $US1 a day.
The story cites as its source a US Justice Department memorandum dated September 4 2007 which stated that Between April 2005 and April 2006, Mr. Obiang transferred at least $US73 Million into the United States using the multi-national giant Shell and other offshore bank accounts to launder the money.
Therefore what the above states is that the very same westerners/foreigners who castigate Afrika and its leaders for being innately corrupt are the ones who are actually causing the corruption in Ghana and Afrika as a whole by firstly enticing the corruption, secondly aiding in the corruption and thirdly profiteering from the corruption from the lucrative deals they are able to get and also the interest in these secret offshore accounts.
Who is to blame?
If blame is to be apportioned for the cancer of corruption in Ghanaian society, I blame the indiscipline and insatiable greed of some Ghanaians. If one is genuinely a law abiding, god fearing and self disciplining person with a degree of integrity, then the cancer that is corruption would not be as rife as it is and I do not buy this pathetic excuse of hard economic conditions to blame for fuelling corruption in Ghanaian society.
Ghanaians must understand that this inordinate and unnecessary corruption is killing the life blood of the country and is one of the fundamental reasons why the Government of Ghana lacks revenue and has to go to the IMF/World Bank for financial assistance.
It is fair to say that if the levels of corruption in Ghana was not as pervasive as it is, the current difficulties engulfing the country at the moment would not be evident.
In terms of multi-national corruption I lay the blame solely at the door of western multi-national companies along with their governments who have used the art of corruption as a wicked device to seduce naive and gullible Ghanaian/ Afrikan politicians and individuals into accepting deals and contracts that are not in the national/continental interest but in the interest of multi-national governments and their cohorts for the sake or ultimate goal of re-colonizing or subjecting Afrika to neo-colonizing status that makes them forever dependent on the imperialist or colonialist for their economic survival.
It is fair to assume that this form of western bribery would not take hold on the continent if it were not for the traitors in our midst who do the bidding of the neo-colonialist. There is a saying in Akans that buttresses the point and it is “Nkwasiafuorwo ye mu”.
Dr Kwame Osei
Afrikan Historian, Researcher and Economist