It’s reality on the ground – Lecturer backs Afriyie Ankrah on ‘corrupt system’

A lecturer at the University of Ghana, Dr Kwame Asah-Asante, has backed a former government appointee on the need for a legal regime change on political party sponsorships by private persons and institutions.

Dr Asah-Asante says existing state-led efforts to fight corruption will yield no tangible results unless there is a legislation to check and regulate the activities of political party financiers.

“One of the things that go into high-level corruption is the issue of party financing where we allow people to fund the party against the rules that we have set for ourselves,” he told Nana Ansah Kwao IV, host of nightly current affairs programme, PM Express.

Background

Speaking at a conference on rethinking political leadership in Ghana, former Youth and Sports Minister, Elvis Afriyie Ankrah, called for a legislation that will limit private persons and institutions sponsoring electoral campaigns of political parties.

According to him, his experience in government leaves him without a doubt that state officials sometimes intentionally pass questionable deals as payback for individuals and institutions who helped a ruling party during electioneering campaigns.

“Check all the corruption related cases; from BOST to whatever, check, it is linked to campaign financing; there is always a financier there. Why? You think we are foolish people? Why is it that sometimes you ask yourself that ‘which sensible person will sign this contract, or will agree to this deal?’ Haven’t you asked yourself that question? It is because our hands are tied,” Afriyie Ankrah said Tuesday, at the auditorium of the University of Ghana Law School.

Dr Kwame Asah-Asante said the comment by the former government appointee is not only important to advance the fight against systemic corruption, but it is also a confession about an issue that has always been deliberately hushed in anti-graft discourses.

Reality check

“For me what Elvis said is the reality on the ground,” the Lecturer said on PM Express, calling for a state-led paradigm shift.

“The state must come out clearly to define to us how parties can be funded; and I mean they [political party sponsors] must have a very workable programme that will make sure that we fund parties and we fund them well and that the public will have access to those who fund the party, how much they contributed and where those people will work.

“So that at the end of the day when we see them chasing some contracts, we know we know where they are coming from,” he said.

A first step would be to begin tracking and regulating donations to political parties, said Dr Asah-Asante, “so that if they go beyond a certain threshold it will not be allowed.”

A second step, according to the political science lecturer, would be to empower political parties to educate their members and the electorate on their right to demand accountability from elected officials, whether they presented them with gifts during campaigns or not.

He also called on the National Commission on Civic Education (NCCE) to intensify the campaign to educate Ghanaian electorates that they must not be influenced by money or other gifts from politicians in deciding who to vote for.

Ghana’s corruption profile

Since 2006, Ghana’s score and ranking on the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index has improved slightly, ranked higher than Italy and Brazil. However, there is a growing perception in Ghana that government-related corruption is on the rise, ranked 64th in 2012.

According to the Business Anti-Corruption portal, although Ghana has a strong anti-corruption legal framework in place, the country still faces challenges of enforcement.

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