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The Roots of Corruption – The Ghanaian Enquiry


IN March 1970 Mr Justice P. D. Anin was named by the Ghanaian Presidential Commission, acting on the advice of the Prime Minister, to head a five-man Commission of Enquiry into Bribery and Corruption Not only was it authorised ‘to study the area, prevalence, and methods of bribery and corruption in Ghanaian society’, but also to determin whether there were factors in the society which contributed to this. ‘A a people, do we frown upon and resist bribery and corruption or do we tend to regard them as natural and inevitable?’, asked Anin at the first meeting of the Commission of Enquiry on 29June 1970, adding: ‘Do we draw a line between the “customary drink” under our traditional practices, and bribery and corruption of public officers and others
holding positions of trust?'” The answers to these questions, it was hoped would lead to recommendations for the eradication of these ‘social
In many countries of the world, a commission of enquiry of this sort is rare. Publicising accusations of corruption would be seen as politically embarrassing and as discrediting the civil service in such a way as to decrease its effectiveness. For Ghanaians, however, the only thing surprising about the appointment of the Anin Commission was that it was considered necessary. Ghana, after all, has carried out and published far more studies of corruption than any other country of Africa during the post-colonial period. Moreover, during 1969, the military rulers of the country announced a ‘national crusade’ against corruption, to be led by a former army officer, which was supposed to ‘eliminate all forms of corruption from Ghanaian life .2 Granted that such a crusade might have been rather over-ambitious, what could be the purpose of another commission of enquiry into bribery and corruption?
It is certainly understandable that some Ghanaians should feel cynical about a new investigation. While the many exposes of the Nkrumah
* Assistant Professor, Department of Government and Politics, University of Maryland, College Park. This study was made possible by research grants from the State University of New York and the University of Maryland. An expanded version was presented at the I4th annual meeting of the African Studies Association, November I971, in Denver, Colorado.
1 The Ghanaian Times (Accra), 30 June 1970. 2 Daily Graphic (Accra), 22 October 1969.
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period carried out by the National Liberation C enlightening, they had apparently not broug ment in the quality of public administration. S were, according to a local novelist, Ayi Kwei net ‘made in the special Ghanaian way that corrupt people to pass through it’.1 Those w shame about it, wrote J. A. Peasah: ‘There is no always the preparedness to seize the earliest op
However purgative the commissions might have been, ‘anyone who
imagines that corruption has disappeared or has even been significantly
reduced by the fall of the C.P.P. Government is deceiving himself’, to
quote the journalist Atta Kwaminia.3 This was underscored by the
Auditor-General’s 1966-67 report which had noted the persistence of
such disquieting practices as award of contracts without recourse to
tender procedures, payments unsupported by any contract agreement,
expenditure in excess of agreed contract prices, and fraudulent substi-
tutions of inflated quotations for prices originally quoted by contractors.4
Particularly disturbing to Ghanaians was the resignation of General Ankrah as Chairman of the National Liberation Council and Head of
State in April 1969, when it was revealed that he had illicitly received from various foreign firms sums of money totalling $30,000.
Some analysts, in addition to those symp dismiss the Ghanaian commission reports tions’.5 But even when the motives for these corruption are not suspect, they are seen as most likely to be expressed by those usin
‘functionalist approach’. Functionalists do no lem to be concerned about in so far as it has u
1 Ayi Kwei Armah, The Beautyful Ones Are Not ret Born 2 J. A. Peasah, ‘Institutionalized Corruption’, in The Leg
1967, p. 12.
3 Atta Kwaminia, ‘The Cure for Corruption in Ghana’, in The Echo (Accra), 12 April
I970, P- 7.
4 The Ghanaian Times, I December I969.
5 Cf. J. S. Nye, ‘Corruption and Political Development: a cost-benefit analysis’, in The
American Political Science Review (Menasha), LVI, 2, June I967, p. 417.
6 The functionalist approach is summarised by Edward van Roy, ‘On the Theory of
Corruption’, in Economic Development and Cultural Change (Chicago), xix, I, October I970, p. 87, and by Arnold J. Heidenheimer in his usefil Political Corruption: readings in comparative analysis (New York, 1970), pp. 479-86.
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The beneficial results of corruption are thought to stem fr prevailing conditions in emerging countries. First of all, the legislation is often poorly formulated or, especially if carried ov the colonial period, irrelevant to the needs of the society. Statut be nothing more than the impulsive whims of a dictator. The ad strators responsible for drafting the legislation tend to be in inadequately assisted, and their work is seldom properly supervi corrected by cabinet members, legislators, or judges. What is legislation is true of policy-making generally; and corruption been pointed out, can reduce the impact of the mistakes th made.’ Since administration tends to be slow, costly, and inf corruption may also be regarded as a ‘solvent’ or ‘lubricant’ t come excessive bureaucratic inflexibility, sluggishness, and bung
Where various forms of corruption are common, the functi would argue, one can hardly consider them immoral. In Ind example, bribery is seldom condemned unless some are deni
‘right’ to bribe when others are getting away with it.3 Thi political corruption very difficult to define.
Corruption is often thought of as the illegitimate use of powe
private ends, but this would mean that such actions were disa
of by the general public. However, nepotism, for example, m
popularly respected and even expected. Does this make it corrupt
if it is illegal? Indeed, the more underdeveloped a country is, th
legality and morality tend to diverge. Corruption is also thought
unauthorised behaviour, but it is frequently sanctioned by t
power. Officials who do not cooperate in corrupt procedures tha
become politically well-established might find themselves in
trouble. Although political corruption can be defined as ille
haviour for private gain, the multi-dimensionality of corruption
recognised – the fact that all of us at times move along the
legality, often going astray as these edges are blurred or dist left untended.
Where people do not respect the official rules and purposes of an organisation, the functionalists ask, why should they worry about corruption? This is exactly the situation in countries where there is no
real sense of nationalism or a deep loyalty to the established government. Instead, rulers must satisfy the private needs of the social elite to main-
1 Nathaniel H. Leff, ‘Economic Development through Bureaucratic Corruption’, in Heidenheimer, op. cit. p. 516.
2 Cf. Samuel P. Huntington, Political Order in Changing Societies (New Haven, 1968), p. 69.
3 0. P. Dwivedi, ‘The Case for Bureaucratic Corruption’, in Michael T. Dalby and Michael S. Werthman (eds.), Bureaucracy in Historical Perspective (Glenview, Ill., I97i), p. 93.
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tain power. This is the basis for the system of by which such countries function. Until a n developed – one derived from normative int sensus on the goals and procedures of the politi cannot be considered meaningful.
While the validity of the functionalist positio its limitations should also be elucidated; it is reasoning.1 Because corruption exists, it is a integrative. Survival, in other words, is prima ality. Any criminal or violent behaviour might This leads to a basically static analysis of wha
The inadequacy of the functionalist approa revealed by the analogy of a doctor who inform fever that he has nothing to worry about. Feve part of the body’s defence against an invasion o normal reaction on the part of the body’s wh dead are incapable of fever. While all this is have little respect for a doctor who did nothin functional implications of fever. Even if the pa by this explanation, he is unlikely to be substan
Those who defend corruption on the basis generally aware of its dysfunctional manifes for example, lists ten harmful effects of corrup beneficial effects.2 J. S. Nye, while acknowl corruption in less-developed countries usual suggests that a cost-benefit analysis must be do clusions about the implications of corruption ca approach is misleading in so far as it diverts causes to the manifestations of corruption. R analogy, we would find it odd for a doctor t benefit analysis of fever. While a doctor might or lower a fever temporarily in dealing with a f his primary concern must be with the infection
Corruption is not the basic problem, much lik problem. Just as rising fever is always a sign of disease or infection, rising corruption is a sign disorder. If the cure of the disease is the soluti
1 Van Roy, loc. cit. pp. 88 and ioI.
2 David H. Bayley, ‘The Effects of Corruption in a Developi Quarterly (Salt Lake City), xix, 4, December 1966, pp. 719-3
a Nye, loc. cit. pp. 417-27.
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reform is the answer to corruption. Yet there can be no improve before there is an understanding of the causes. The Ghanaian r tion of this fact gives significance to their enquiry into the r corruption.
To appreciate the Ghanaian enquiry we must try to see the purpo
it from that country’s point of view. This will entail the extensiv
ing of Ghanaian writers. These purposes are, of course, related
perceived consequences of corruption. Yet, as the functionalis
pointed out, value judgements regarding corruption are mean
without understanding the context in which it occurs. Thus, any
concern about the manifestations of corruption must be followed
analysis of causation. This will bring us back to the question p
Anin – Are cultural factors primarily responsible for corrupt Ghana?
While Ghanaians may be dubious about the efficacy of parti governmental efforts to eliminate corruption, those writing about subject seem convinced that such efforts must continue. ‘The su matter of corruption has been so exhausted that it might look l unnecessary boredom to talk about it any more’, wrote K. Yeb Konadu, adding: ‘But the unique role played by this phenomenon for an untiring attempt to do away with it now and forever.’ It use talking about democracy, he asserted, unless something cou done ‘to heal the country of its corrupt wounds’.l This position is c tainly shared by Dr Kofi Busia, who pointed out soon after beco Prime Minister that the amount of dishonesty displayed at all leve Ghanaian society was the biggest threat to the national economy
Many Ghanaians attribute the downfall of Kwame Nkrumah and Convention People’s Party to their corruption. ‘It was lucrativ belong to the Party; nepotism was the rule’, notes T. Peter Om
During the Nkrumah regime, corruption was not merely practised b politicians alone, Attu Kwaminia adds, ‘but by those who held va degrees of power in the civil service, in commercial concerns corporations, in political parties, in traditional authorities, and so o
The extent of corruption existing in Ghana under Nkrumah is am
documented by the more than 40 commissions or committees of en
1 K. Yeboa-Konadu, ‘Corruption and Our Search for Democracy’, in The Ghanaian T 25 November 1969.
2 Ibid. 24 January 1970.
3 T. Peter Omari, Kwame JNkrumah (Accra, I970), p. 60. 4 Kwaminia, loc. cit. p. 7.
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that were carried out after his ouster. A kickb cent was expected in return for governmen garnered about 90 per cent of its income in this $5 million between 1958 and 1966, which Nkrum own purposes. For example, the properties purchased in I962 at an inflated price with $2’4 million would be turned over to Nkrumah
To facilitate the collection and handling of br set up the National Development Corporatio certain amount of legitimate insurance business, to be ‘an avenue through which commissions an collected’.2 Those not co-operating were effecti ment contracts. Moreover, it became increasing period to bribe many levels of officialdom t Ministry of Trade was particularly notorious issue import licences without the payment of a 10 per cent of the value of the licence desired.
The post-coup Government, of course, recog these commissions of enquiry in discreditin Despite this fact, scholars have attested to their Although these reports are especially valuab administration, their importance remains m have stimulated a genuine moral revulsion a population. ‘Out and out disgust at our social the beginning of enlightenment – the foundati the reaction of a prominent Ghanaian journalis scandals.5 And Professor L. H. Ofosu-Appiah documents be made compulsory reading in
‘since they show that politicians, academic men
ordinary public servants, both young and old, which was fashionable at the time’.6
1 Fred Kwasi Apaloo, Chairman, Report of the Commission to Enquire into the Kwame Nkrumah Properties (Accra-Tema, I966), pp. I and I4-15.
2 S. Azu Crabbe, Chairman, Report of the Commission to Enquire into the Affairs of NADECO Limited (Accra-Tema, I966), pp. I3-I4 and 44.
3 N. A. Ollennu, Chairman, Summary of the Report of the Commission of Enquiry into Irregularities and Malpractices in the Grant of Import Licences (Accra-Tema, I966): ‘If the right hand washes the left hand, the left hand in turn washes the right.’ This was allegedly a favourite expression of one of Nkrumah’s ministers for issuing the import licences; ibid. p. 13.
4 Cf. Jon Kraus, ‘Arms and Politics in Ghana’, in Claude E. Welch (ed.), Soldier and State in Africa (Evanston, I970), pp. I88-9. I personally observed several of the commissions in session and was impressed with their judiciousness.
5 Togbi Yao, Sunday Mirror (Accra), 13 April I969.
6 L. H. Ofosu-Appiah, ‘The Generation Gap in Ghana’, in Daily Graphic, II July I970.
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Much of the agonising introspection which went on among Gha after the revelations of the commissions of enquiry stemmed from pride in being the first Africans to escape colonial rule and in ha higher standard of living, better educational facilities, and competent and experienced personnel than most other African cou As such, Ghana was supposed to be the model for the newly indep African states. Now, Ghanaians were shown to be corrupt as w inept. Indeed, the doubts of Europeans as to the capacity of Afric self-government seemed justified. Yet, Ghanaians asked, wh would it do to sweep the dirt under the rug? Instead, there widespread feeling that publicising these commission reports provide a necessary purge for the health of the society.
David Apter, among other western scholar
in Ghana to the persistence of traditional valu
requirements for a secular way of life: ‘Ne
considered a grave offense in western bure
African practice providing jobs for the membe
socially compulsory.’l Many Ghanaians would
the more successful a civil servant or politician
expected to share his good fortune with hi
conscious Ghanaian is hence terribly loaded
duties and obligations owed to relatives known
spring up and demand attention when one i official duties.’2
It is not uncommon for a Ghanaian family to consist of more than 500, and even the most distant relative can expect assistance. The wel- fare of the clan, Professor W. E. Abraham points out, is more important than the welfare of the individual.3 Moreover, the emphasis in African culture is achievement through clan co-operation rather than through self-help. Therefore, neglecting one’s family is the most terrible thing that one can do. Generosity, on the other hand, is the most appreciated human quality. When a politician has been generous, even at public expense, all his other faults are forgiven. At the same time, a Ghanaian de- rives satisfaction as well as prestige from having people dependent on him.
1 David E. Apter, Ghana in Transition (New York, I963), p. 6.
2 Y. Bassa-Quansah, ‘The Corrosive Effect of Kinship on National Efficiency’, in Insight (Accra), I, 2, June, I966, p. 47.
3 W. E. Abraham, The Mind of Africa (Chicago, I962), pp. 66-7.
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To avoid accusations of ingratitude, politici must surround themselves with their fellow tribesmen as well as their
more immediate relatives. ‘I could not have chosen my government without some regard to tribal origins’, Nkrumah admits, ‘and even, within the Party itself, there was at times a tendency to condemn or recommend some individual on the basis of his tribal or family origin.’l Likewise, the giving and receiving of gifts becomes unavoidable. It would be a most unfriendly gesture for a minister to refuse the $200 gift that he commonly receives from each village that he visits, regardless of the obligations that this might entail. While gift-giving is not necessarily seen as corruptive, it certainly leads to an expectation of reciprocation. What complicates this situation is the difficulty Ghanaians have in adjusting to the impersonal, disinterested, legalistic character of obliga- tions required for the successful functioning of the modern bureaucracy.
‘We prefer personal contacts and arbitrariness to institutions and the law’, concedes Peasah.2
Respect for elders is another traditional heritage which supposedly
contributes to corruption. ‘Where elders occupy a hierarchic position,
public disputes with younger and lower persons cannot but bring a loss
of dignity and effectiveness to their position.’3 Because Ghanaians are
socialised into being passive and obedient, they are unwilling to com-
plain in such a way as to break the harmony of their society. This
results in whatJ. E. Wiredu calls the ‘congenital sycophancy’ of many Ghanaians.4
While acknowledging the relationship of traditional values to
corruption, a number of Ghanaian writers suggest that it is less important than situational or historical factors. Even in the traditional milieu
there are clear-cut limitations on gift-giving and family obligations which preclude corruption.5 Moreover, the deliberate exploitation of traditional practices and the rational calculation of the benefits to be derived are completely alien to customary social relationships. In this regard, Ghanaians realize that a gift to a chief means one thing; a gift to a civil servant, another. They also make a distinction between traditional and modern social requirements. It was the breakdown of traditional restraints that accompanied urbanisation and industrialisa-
I Kwame Nkrumah, Dark Days in Ghana (New York, I968), p. 66.
2 Peasah, loc. cit. p. I2.
3 Abraham, op. cit. p. 67.
4 J. E. Wiredu, ‘How to Build a Dictatorship Again in Ghana’, in The Legon Observer,
5 January 1968.
5 Ebow Mends, ‘Traditional Values and Bribery and Corruption’, ibid. 4 December
1970, pp. 13-14.
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tion, argues Nkrumah, that was responsible for the crime and corru that he had to deal with.’
The need to grant favours to relatives and friends, one informant emphasised, is not so much a concern for custom as it is a concern for their unemployment and poverty. Where most of the relatives have jobs or reasonable incomes, as among the American or British bourgeoisie, they do not have to exert so much pressure for favourable treatment on those in high political positions. The keen competition for jobs is seen as one of the most important factors giving impetus to tribalism.2 It also meant that some Ghanaians were willing to sacrifice whatever integrity they had for the sake of employment. ‘This is because in a developing nation the government is the largest employer,’ notes J. K. Anoyke,
‘and this being the case, the Government attracts all sorts of people, who only want their stomachs filled.’3
Poverty impels men not only to tolerate corruption but also to take advantage of it. According to the Mensah Commission, 88 per cent of the total employed labour in Ghana could not afford a balanced diet, even if they spent their entire income on food alone.4 Understandably, therefore, they are inclined to demand gratuities before performing their services. While members of the senior civil service are paid at rates comparable to those in industrialised societies, the salaries of the junior civil servants reflect the levels of production of the local economy. Their resulting resentments and frustrations often tempt them into corruption. The fact that Ghanaians are increasingly aware of the standard of living in western countries adds to the pressures on them. Those with professional qualifications or foreign training are especially desirous of having the same standard of living as their Western counterparts. Consequently, I. K. Gyasi points out, they feel it necessary to acquire a big car, a television set, a stereo, and ‘a bevy of fawning women’. ‘We need all of them, and our pay is not enough.’5
The disrespect for regulations or legal requirements is seen as stemming from the colonial period in which the political system was dominated by foreigners. Corruption then was thought to sabotage somehow colonial rule. Thus, most Ghanaians were not unduly disturbed by the 956 Jibowu Commission findings that the C.P.P. had used the state-run Cocoa Purchasing Company to provide loans and
1 Dark Days in Ghana, pp. 38-9.
2 Publius Gamesu, The Legon Observer, 22 May 1970, p. 2.
3 J. K. Anoyke, ‘Big Threat to Democracy’, in The Ghanaian Times, I3 February 1970.
4 J. H. Mensah, Chairman, Report of the Commission on Review of Salaries and Pensions in the
Public Services of Ghana (Accra-Tema, i969), p. 63.
5 I. K. Gyasi, ‘Ghanaians Too Are to Blame’, in The Ghanaian Times, 13 February I970.
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other favours for party supporters and to finan ambivalence of Ghanaians towards law is reflected in their attitude
towards policemen, according to a local editorial:
We have always turned two faces towards a policeman. We expect him to
human, yet, inhuman. We employ him to administer the law, yet ask him to waive it at certain instances. We resent him when he enforces a law in our
own case, yet demand his dismissal when he does not elsewhere. We shame- lessly offer him bribes, yet denounce his corruption.2
After independence, the leaders were convinced that Ghana was very rich. The price of cocoa was high, and foreign exchange seemed readily available. There was a general optimism that progress would be very rapid. Almost any enterprise, no matter how impractical, was approved because this was progress. ‘The politicians knew little or nothing of the difficulties involved in the various schemes they proposed,’ notes
P. K. K. Quaidoo, adding: ‘Like the people they were leading, the leaders were more interested in the end product than in the process of achieving it, and so tended to be unsympathetic to reasons given for delays.’3 Those who emphasised financial or administrative problems were viewed as reactionaries. A. L. Adu, based on his experience as head of the Ghana civil service during part of the Nkrumah period, writes that African ministers often endeavour to by-pass their civil
servants and such controls as those set up by the Treasury because of their impatience to get on with their programmes and election mani- festoes: ‘They find, in the circumstances, that the Civil Service machin- ery is too ponderous for their purpose and too deliberate in its procedures for examining and implementing policies.’4 Because of their inexperience and impatience, the Ghanaian politicians underestimated the import- ance not only of proper financial arrangements for their projects, but
also of devices by which supervision could be exercised, advice given, and, if necessary, guidance enforced.
Much of the corruption in Ghana during the Nkrumah period was a by-product of the haphazard way in which legislation was enacted or projects were begun. Examples of this abound in the commission reports. In I965, at the request of Nkrumah, the Accra-Tema City Council set up a taxi and car hire service, but because of the lack of supervisory procedures, the drivers did not have to account for earnings,
1 Cf. Omari, op. cit. pp. 59-60.
2 The Ghanaian Times, 14 October, I969.
3 P. K. K. Quaidoo, ‘Problems of Government: alliance of power and freedom’, in
Insight, II, 2, May I967, p. 14.
4 A. L. Adu, The Civil Service in Commonwealth Africa (London, 1969), p. 239.
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fuel, and spare parts.l This resulted in a loss of over $55,000 within years. Much more costly was the setting up of a free textbook schem
1963 without any planning or advice being sought from expe Because the Ministry of Education had only three people to dea nearly 500,000 invoices, it was forced into ‘the evil circle of ad payments, inability to reconcile these payments with actual deliver and delays in further payments’. By 1968 the Ministry found itself a debt of over $5 million to the State Publishing Corporation decision to charge fees did not help very much because there w proper system of collecting or accounting for moneys collected’.2
With independence came a need for rapid Africanisation at a when an unprecedented burden was being placed on the civil se The dearth of competent administrators, Nkrumah asserts, meant he had to manage with what was available, regardless of their s comings.3 Otherwise, he would have had to retain many B officials, which would have been politically impossible. Yet Nkr felt it necessary to increase the number of employees in the p sector by 67-7 per cent between 1960 and 1965. The implication of according to the Mills-Odoi Commission, was that ‘for substan numbers engaged in the service, public employment has becom system of public assistance and relief’.4 Relatively few of those hire Mensah Commission noted, were removed on grounds of inefficien
The lack of qualified personnel was even more obvious at the level than in the central government. The 1968 Siriboe Comm reported that many municipalities, such as Sekondi-Takoradi an Coast, could not find a single qualified medical officer or civil engin Those who were hired often left for jobs that paid better and offe more security of tenure. ‘The non-viability of the Councils and relatively insignificant role in government, as a whole’, David And writes, ‘has naturally militated against their being able to recru retain competent staff’.7 The inadequacies of local government staf
1 E. K. Akyea-Djamson, Chairman, Interim and Final Reports of the Commission of En into the Accra-Tema City Council (Accra-Tema, 1969), pp. Ioo-2.
2 K. S. Essah, Chairman, Report of the Committee of Enquiry into the Affairs of the State Publi Corporation (Accra-Tema, 1969), pp. 5 and i9-20.
3 Dark Days in Ghana, p. 39.
4 G. C. Mills-Odoi, Chairman, Report of the Commission on the Structure and Remuneration Public Services in Ghana (Accra-Tema, I967), p. 28.
5 Mensah Report, p. 26.
6 J. B. Siriboe, Chairman, Report of the Commission of Enquiry into Electoral and Local Go ment Reform (Accra-Tema, I968), pt. 3, p. 27.
7 D. A. Anderson, ‘Reorganization of the Public Services in Ghana’, in The Task Administrator in Developing Societies: report of the sixth Inter-African Public Administration (Achimota, 1967).
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seen by the Siriboe Commission as the main r cases of fraud and defalcation which were discovered in the accounts of
many councils.1 ‘Practically anyone who can add and subtract in simple arithmetic’, concluded the Auditor-General’s Department in its 1967-68 report, ‘seems readily qualified as an accountant or financial secretary
in our local councils .2 In the case of the Cape Coast Municipal Council, for example, it was discovered that neither of the two senior officials whose work directly concerned the revenue of the Council (i.e. the Treasurer and his deputy) knew the regulation under which tolls were collected from hawkers and petty traders.3
The leaders of the C.P.P. contended that a one-party system would reduce corruption because, to quote the Minister of Defence under Nkrumah, ‘when political parties became a feature of our government organisation, civil servants lost their traditional impartiality and divided their loyalties between the Government and the parties to which they belonged’.4 Moreover, the heavy costs of campaigning, which is a great source of corruption in western countries, would be unnecessary.
‘Money, which would otherwise be spent on party functionaries and party organisation would be saved for development projects.’5 Of course, the effect of a one-party system was to eliminate one of the most important factors reducing corruption in western countries: the fear of defeat in a competitive election.
The persistence of corruption long after the demise of the C.P.P., however, indicates that the problem lies deeper than the one-party
system. What encouraged corruption in Ghana, more than anything else, was the inadequacy of controls. Where proper controls existed, as in the Volta Dam project, corruption was insignificant. In municipal government, on the other hand, where the emphasis was on having politically reliable men as chairmen and councillors, regardless of other qualifications, corruption was rampant. The council members, even when they were relatively honest, were seldom competent to supervise the officials, particularly those accountants who were reported to ‘dip their hands in the till as casually as they scoop roasted peanuts from a bowl at a cocktail party’.6
What Nkrumah apparently wanted at the local level were men who could give political direction to the councils, but this undermined the
1 Siriboe Report, p. 57. 2 The Ghanaian Times, I February 1970.
3 Ibid. 16 January I970.
4 Kofi Baako, ‘The Party, the Government, and the Public Services’, in 0 & M Bull
(Accra), 6, July I964, p. I2.
5 K. N. Bame, ‘Politics without Parties’, in The Legon Observer, 19 August I966. 6 Daily Graphic, 2 April I969.
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positions of the chief administrative officers, preventing the exercising the legal powers which they supposedly possessed. Dec were frequently made by the chairmen without even consult officers, the council committees, or the council members as a Such was the conduct of the Kumasi chairman in arranging f purchase and extension of a bungalow at a cost of over $Ioo,o time when the Council’s financial position was very weak.’ T executive chairman of the Accra-Tema City Council durin Nkrumah period met with his colleagues only three times dur nearly two-year tenure, instead of the four annual meetings required; yet no one protested when he decided to approve the estimates himself. Likewise, when he decided on a policy of ‘jobs girls’, the Town Clerk did not advise that the girls employe possess minimum qualifications.2
When important politicians misused government property or r to pay municipal property rates and charges, the local admini could do nothing about it. Thus, the market stall-holders of S Takoradi could year after year ignore with impunity existing regu
and rents.3 ‘We could not prosecute a C.P.P. man’, oneinfo related: ‘People would laugh at you for even trying.’
What also facilitated corruption was the fact that man administrators were actually chosen for their corruptibility malpractices discovered in the Kumasi market, for example, st from the dishonesty of the revenue collectors who, as loyal part bers, were protected by the chairmen and other councillors, supervisors who were themselves involved. Weak administrato sometimes preferred, such as the head of the Accra-Tema City C transport or fleet maintenance department, who was not even qu to be a junior employee; such an officer could be safely igno by-passed.4
The controls that were to be exercised by the central Governmen proved ineffective. Often this happened because, in the words of Kwaminia, ‘you cannot use one set of corrupt men to check anoth of corrupt men’.5 For example, auditors from the Auditor-G Department never queried the shortages that persistently app the accounts of the Kumasi City Council during the Nkrumah
1 T. A. Totoe, Chairman, Report of the Commission of Enquiry into the Affairs of the Ku Council (Accra-Tema, 1969), pp. 26-35.
2 Akyea-Djamson Report, pp. 47 and Io8.
3 Edmund B. Gaisie, Chairman, Report of the Commission… to Enquire into the Affa Sekondi- Takoradi City Council (Accra-Tema, 1970), pp. 8-13.
4 Akyea-Djamson Report, p. I20. 5 Kwaminia, loc. cit. p. 7.
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allegedly because they were bribed by the Cou case of the State Furniture and Joinery Corpora the Auditor-General proved to be no more reliab mit any accounts and reports for three years an obvious irregularities.2 Yet they collected ove poration. Even when ministers learned about cor ment, they were seldom willing or able to do an one of Nkrumah’s cabinet members, Henry B voluntarily.3 The others went along with the pr
In the absence of competitive political parties, been reduced by the impact of business and pro a certain amount of corruption in the United intense competition engendered among businesse unwillingness of businesses to allow their riv
John Gardiner shows this process at work in his
U.S. city. The mayor of Wincanton was forced t
everywhere when the Retail Liquor Dealers Asso
the toleration of slot machines in private clu
unfair advantage in attracting patrons.4 Business
in North America to force parts of the bureaucr
standards of honesty and efficiency in protectio
For this reason essential services, such as the pr
mail delivery, sewage, and garbage disposal, te
business community than the general public
more vigorous reaction of law-enforcement ag
bank robberies and the counterfeiting of money racial discrimination.
In Ghana, on the other hand, the larger private businesses continue
to be owned and managed by Europeans or Lebanese. Ghanaian busi- ness groups, John Esseks points out, generally have a low social status and are reputed to be inept and financially unreliable.5 They were therefore seldom able during the Nkrumah period to share in or effectively protest against the benefits derived from corruption by Levantine and European firms. Moreover, Ghanaian businessmen have been unable to challenge seriously the bureaucratic impediments to
1 Totoe Report, pp. 68-72.
2 S. A. X. Tsegah, Chairman, Report of the Committee of Enquiry into the State Furniture and Joinery Corporation (Accra-Tema, I967), pp. 33-7.
3 Henry Bretton, The Rise and Fall of Kwame Nkrumah (New York, I966), p. 8I.
4John Gardiner, The Politics of Corruption (New York, I970), pp. 8o and 85-6.
5 John F. Esseks, ‘Government and Indigenous Private Enterprise in Ghana’, in The
Journal of Modern African Studies (Cambridge), Ix, i, May I971, pp. I -29.
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their work noted by Ernest G. Sam: the refusal to handle letters, files, or claims unless something is given to the typist or messenger; the police practice of demanding money before allowing cars and trucks to pass through road barriers.l
The impotence of Ghanaian businessmen can be seen in their futile protests against the 1963 by-laws, allegedly demanded by Nkrumah, requiring all advertisements in Accra be illuminated by neon lighting so that the main streets of the city would resemble Piccadilly Circus.2 The Accra-Tema City Council, supported by the Government, approved these by-laws, despite the insistence of the Ghana Chamber of Com- merce that they were impractical in a country where most businesses have few employees and limited capital. While such by-laws could not possibly be enforced, they could be used to elicit payments from those anxious to avoid legal harassment.
The weakness of private interest groups in Ghana is related to the weakness of other political factors which operate to reduce corruption in Western Europe and North America. The steps that Nkrumah took to monopolise the communication media, to undermine the independence of the legislature and the judiciary, to offset the aspects of federalism set up under the 1957 constitution, and to control the unions and other functional associations are well known. What needs clarification, how- ever, is the relationship between the undermining of constitutional checks and the intensification of corruption. This apparent relationship has led many Ghanaians to quote approvingly Lord Acton’s famous maxim: ‘Power tends to corrupt and absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely.’ Instead, what needs to be emphasised is that corruption really emerges from the absence of power. It was the weakness of the Nkrumah regime – its inability to control what went on rather than its totalitarian faqade – which facilitated corruption.
Nkrumah had hoped to build a mass party, such as that of the Soviet Union or China, with himself as a charismatic leader, with his own ideas as a guide to action, and with disciples able to indoctrinate the masses. In reality, however, his associates were bound by nothing more than patronage or fear. ‘In many cases’, Nkrumah admits, ‘all they were concerned with was taking the places of the former colonial occupiers of their jobs and making the same money as these did in the same social and economic pattern.’3
1 Ernest G. Sam, ‘War on Bribery and Corruption’, in The Ghanaian Times, 12 November 1969.
2 Akyea-Djamson Report, pp. 20I-6. 3 Dark Days in Ghana, p. 65.
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What Nkrumah fails to acknowledge was the e only encouraged the corruption of his subordin it. ‘Nkrumah somehow developed the notion price, and that he could use those whom he bou
ambitions or to flatter and nurture his ego expense.’l Those who were most corruptible w co-operative. On the other hand, those who resi were considered dangerous and, as such, puni Kwabena Owusu, who was in 1961 acting m Distilleries Corporation, objected to the inflated being charged by a London firm that was then National Development Corporation, he and his f humiliated, and he was eventually dismissed fom
Since corruption became so much a part of th it was necessary for survival. ‘If it is known tha a bribe will be forever blacklisted and never the most reckless of contractors would offer
points out, adding: ‘But when it is only the contractors who get contracts by offering bribe will follow suit, not because they are themse they want to remain in business.’3 In other wo is not so much a product of the prevailing cult
Ghanaians have had to endure.
The Ghanaian concern about corruption, it is h indication of their progressiveness. It arises out the relationship of legality to political develop established as long ago as the writings of Aristotle sciousness of legality, there can hardly be a consci
because it assumes some form of legality which from the Ghanaian point of view, their studies of been useless if they do not lead to reform. At the ro hope to find, if not measures to eradicate it, th minimising it.
Ghanaians have placed a considerable emphasi public opinion in their fight against corruption
1 Omari, op. cit. p. 2.
2 Crabbe Report, pp. 43-4. 3 Kwaminia, loc. cit. p. 7.
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Kwaminia insists, is a programme of educating the public: ‘After all, honesty is essentially an attitude of mind and a way of life, and people can be taught to be honest just as they can be taught to be dishonest.’ According to the Essah Commission, this should begin with religious education to improve the moral standards of youth. ‘We have to retool our educational system to effect changes in our customary pattern of thinking, starting with the young children in school’, Bassa-Quansah urges.2 Lawrence Khan suggests another approach, that of awakening civil servants to the dangers and evils of corruption.3 In this regard, Ebow Mends advocates teaching citizens the rights and privileges they should expect in dealing with civil servants.4 In addition, Ofusu-Appiah would have the various professions take a more active role in ‘establish- ing a clear-cut code of conduct which should be applied without fear or favour to the young and the old.’5
The Ghanaian Government, through the Centre for Civic Education, has actually taken steps in this direction, despite the misgivings of local politicians.6 Throughout Ghana one sees signs: ‘Don’t give gifts, they are bribes.’; or ‘Don’t accept gifts, they corrupt.’ However helpful these measures might be, some Ghanaians would undoubtedly agree with Togbi Yao that too much stress has been placed on ‘admonitions and pious pleadings’.7 ‘From the highest to the lowest in our society’, he writes, ‘it is believed that once a thing is told, a sermon delivered, a moral platitude expressed, a warning given, an exhortation pro- nounced – then things would happen, and all would be well ever after.’ Instead, he suggests a more drastic solution, that no person be allowed
to hold a position of importance for more than two years because ‘the roots of vice and corruption could then not strike deep before another blighter of a scoundrel takes over’.8
Judge Anin indicates that the penalties for corruption need to be more severe, pointing out that, since most corrupt activities are treated as misdemeanours, they carry a maximum sentence of three years, while such offences as stealing, being second-degree felonies, can lead to imprisonment for ten years. Kwame Afreh, on the other hand, notes that the criminal code contains many harsh laws dealing with corrup-
1 Ibid.
2 Bassa-Quansah, loc. cit. p. 49.
3 Lawrence Khan, ‘Towards Public Morality’, in The Star (Accra), 17 June I970.
4 Mends, loc. cit. p. 14.
5 Ofusu-Appiah, loc. cit. p. 5.
6 See Fred M. Hayward, ‘Ghana Experiments with Civic Education’, in Africa Report
(New York), xvI, 5, May 1971, pp. 24-7.
7 Togbi Yao, ‘Is Ghana a Star Gazer?’, in Sunday Mirror (Accra), 7 June I970. 8 Ibid. 13 April I969.
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tion.1 The problem, he contends, lies in the lac
investigate, and prosecute charges of corru
times takes a year, or even two years, from t
hearing of the case. Unheard and partly hear the courts.’2
What emerges from a reading of the Ghanaian commissions of enquiry into corruption is the need for strengthening supervisory controls. This might take the form of an ombudsman or a special police unit similar to the American Federal Bureau of Investigation. But the necessary controls will only work to the extent that admini- strators become not only adequately trained and experienced, but also respected and protected by political leaders, who are themselves able and willing to supervise what goes on. This necessitates what I have else- where referred to as ‘elasticity of control’, requiring: (i) the preparation of subordinates to undertake increasing responsibility; (ii) the delega- tion of authority to those that are able and willing to accept additional responsibility; (iii) the provision of adequate financial and administra- tive resources to those exercising authority; and (iv) the utilisation of methods that are influential or persuasive rather than coercive or demoralising.3
Perhaps more essential than the external controls necessary for reducing corruption are internal controls. One cannot expect people to be honest if they are not honestly motivated. This cannot simply be a matter of patronage or fear. The motivation must involve a dedication to common objectives based on a sharing of values and a devotion to the community. This is what is meant by a sense of integrity. ‘Unless Busia is able without preaching to infuse civic consciousness into the cross- section of the population’, Omari concluded, soon after the new Prime Minister had been appointed, ‘productivity cannot be promoted; self- less devotion to duty and disinterested service to one’s country will be a myth; and bribery and corruption cannot be uprooted from the system.’4
Busia’s failure to inspire individual or group sacrifice for public welfare must be considered largely responsible for his downfall in January 1972. ‘The malpractices which existed before 1966 are still with us’, exclaimed Colonel Acheampong, outlining the reasons which
1 Kwame Afreh, ‘The Proof of Corruption’, in The Legon Observer, 23 May I969.
2 ‘The Law’s Delays, and the High Cost of Litigation’, ibid. 14 March 1969.
3 See Herbert H. Werlin, ‘Elasticity of Control: an analysis of decentralization’, in
Journal of Comparative Administration (Beverly Hills), II, 2, August 1970, pp. I85-209, and ‘The Nairobi City Council: a study in comparative local government’, in Comparative Studies in Society and History (Cambridge), vIII, 2, January I966, pp. 83-6.
4 Omari, op. cit. pp. I73-4.
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necessitated the military takeover, ‘and there was no prospect of seeing an end of them.” Many Ashanti and Kwahu merchants and traders are said to have been favoured by Busia’s Government, taking special advantage of the Ghanaian Business Promotion Act which had been promulgated to lessen the economic domination of aliens.2 As always, the most privileged were the leading politicians and civil servants. It was revealed that nearly ten per cent of the N?Z 7 million voted by the ousted regime to help small businessmen went to 39 former members of parliament. Ministers were allowed to hold profit-making positions in private and public corporations, contrary to constitutional stipulations, so long as their motives were deemed ‘pure, laudable, and public- spirited’.3
The importation of such luxury items as Mercedes cars continued practically unabated, worsening the foreign-exchange deficit. For example, the Government allegedly arranged to spend nearly $5 million (without provision in the annual estimates) to furnish, decorate, and air-condition the regional residencies to be used by ministers, minis- terial secretaries, and their social associates.4 So corrupt was the import- control system that the Government could not rely upon it to prevent the loss of foreign exchange, turning instead to a drastic and unpopular currency devaluation.5
While the Busia regime had to its credit a number of significant accomplishments, particularly in rural development, its failure to live up to its promises may have left the public more disillusioned than ever. ‘The tragedy of African politics, particularly Ghanaian’, notes S. M. Sibidow, ‘is that almost all the leaders produced so far turned out to preach virtues whereas they practised vices or promise one thing and do exactly the opposite.’6 Writing several months before the I972 coup, Kwame Arhin, the former editor of The Legon Observer, pointed out that those who ruled Ghana had become prisoners of the same socio- economic forces as had their predecessors. Busia had missed the oppor- tunity to set the country on a new course:
The sociologist in the Prime Minister lost to the politician in him; he failed to realise the effect of the example that he himself was setting on people of all races. If he had exhibited moderation in his life, others might have fallen in
1 Ghana News (Accra), iv, I, February-March 1972.
2 ‘Party, Politics, and Corruption’, in Weekly Spectator (Accra), 26 February 1972.
3 Daily Graphic, I January I972.
4 Ibid. 24January I972.
5 Cf. Observer Notebook, ‘Bribery and Corruption’, in The Legon Observer, I February
6 S. M. Sibidow, ‘They Preached Virtue and Practised Vice’, in Daily Graphic, 29 Febru- ary 1972.
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line; and the urgency to catch up with t would perhaps have taken a different, wort
Based on their history, it is understand be sceptical about the determination o Council to lessen the impact of corrupti
1 Kwame Arhin, ‘Urgently Needed-a Genuine R 19 November I971.
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