Home » Gen. News » Articles/Opinions » The Roots of Corruption – The Ghanaian Enquiry.

The Roots of Corruption – The Ghanaian Enquiry.

Excerpts from:

Herbert H. Werlin (1972). The Roots of Corruption – The Ghanaian Enquiry. *The Journal of Modern African Studies*, Vol. 10, No. 2 (Jul., 1972), pp. 247-266 (20 pages)

“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. 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 substitutions of inflated quotations for prices originally quoted by contractors. 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 of the investigations were, according to a local novelist, Ayi Kwei Armah, no better than a net ‘made in the special Ghanaian way that allowed the really big corrupt people to pass through it.”

” Dr Kofi Busia, …pointed out soon after becoming Prime Minister that the amount of dishonesty displayed at all levels of Ghanaian society was the biggest threat to the natiomal economy.”

“… the more successful a civil servant or politician becomes, the more he is expected to share his good fortune with his kinsmen. ‘The family conscious Ghanaian is hence terribly loaded with a proliferation of duties and obligations owed to relatives known and unknown who may spring up and demand attention when one is busily performing his official duties. …To avoid accusations of ingratitude, politicians and top civil servants 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.’

“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.’ 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 what J. E. Wiredu calls the ‘congenital sycophancy’ of many Ghanaians.”

“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 industrialition, argues Nkrumah, that was responsible for the crime and corruption that he had to deal with.’ ”

“We have always turned two faces towards a policeman. We expect him to be 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” — The Ghanaian Times, October 14, 1969.

“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’ “

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.