Corruption in Africa is legendry, although it occurs in every part of the globe. Particularly in Ghana, corruption is a topic that will fill volumes of books. Infectious as it is, corruption also covers a broad spectrum of practices and behaviours, openly and discreetly.
Fighting corruption means upsetting, particularly the powerful. Thus, when one sets on a journey to write and comment comprehensively on it, as Kwame Gyasi has done, the risk is enormous. The book: A Voice Against CORRUPTION: Enough Is Enough is a heart-breaking re-collection of the author’s thoughts, public addresses and published articles on corruption. For several years Kwame Gyasi has written a columnfor the Weekly Spectatorand the Daily guide (Point of Order) on corruption-related, official graft and political incompetence or indolence.
All manner of persons, whether in a weak or strong position, engage in corruption: The rich use power to indulge in corruption, just as the poor rely on poverty to indulge in it. Corruption is both large scale and small scale; the receiver and the giver are both equally guilty of its criminality. Enforcement of legal penalties, sanctions and publicly naming-and-shaming have all been experimented with, in its fight to no avail.
Kwame Gyasi treats “corruption, an evergreen topic in everyday Ghanaian life, and an underlying cause of Ghana’s under-development and political backwardness, with refreshing passion and analysis. He wades into the form, the origin and consequences of this pervasive canker with amazing lucidity. The 331-page book outlines the entire spectrum of this social menace, highlighting all of its agents: the rich and the poor; male and female; the educated and the uneducated; the privately employed and the publicly employed; small scale and large scale operatives, and above all, the consequences.
Broken into chapters (or discourses, as the authors prefers to call them), the book begins with a discussion of the instruments for studying corruption. He then goes on and delves into the challenges, nay dangers, in the fight against the canker, and concludes with a passionate pitch of why corruption must be fought and defeated. Ultimately, the reader comes out with a two-fold impression about the book: A Voice Against CORRUPTION: Enough Is Enough.
First, the book is not only a deep reflection on corruption, as its titles seek to portray. Rather, and secondly, the book is, indeed, a critical assessment of poor political leadership by the elite and well-placed in Ghana. The correlation between leadership and corruption becomes obvious. For example, chapter six (Discourse 6) abundantly discusses pervasive poor economic mismanagement in Ghana and the part the elite, the middle class and the well-connected play in this abuse of power.
Kwame Gyasi, the scholar and columnist, is never afraid of controversy. In fact, he stokes, if not invites, it. He takes on economists and assembly men: “…the economists are misleading us” (p229); “…many assembly members are illiterates.” He is hilarious and possesses incredulous amount of capacity to laugh at his grammatical incompetence: “…I had to write my ‘O-level twice before I could get decent pass back. At any time, I sit down to write the dictionary becomes my constant companion.” (p224).
The scholarly aspect of the book is its documentation of studies and several periodic reports on corruption: theCorruption Perception Index; the Global Corruption Report; the Bribe Payers Index; the National Integrity System and the Transparency in Corporate Reporting. A list of anti-corruption legislations is also provided (Discourse 10). A reader who wants to go beyond and discover the efforts Ghana Integrity Initiative devotes to anti-corruption initiatives is invited to read Discourse 4.
Different chapters of the book treat different aspects of the crime of corruption: The devastating nature of corruption and challenges in its fight (Discourse Three); electoral and media corruption (Discourse 28 and 29); the failure by constitutional/statutory institutions: the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) and the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) in the fight against corruption (Discourse Seven). Law students and lawyers will find Discourse Ten resourceful and insightful. It lists out some 11 laws and legislations enacted in Ghana to combat corruption.
The author dares to wade into non-corruption topics. He puns on the absurdities in the 1992 Constitution of Ghana (Discourse Twenty-Nine), and whether Ghana’s Fourth Republic stands to survive (Discourse Thirty-Four). His treatment of corruption and non-corruption issues is so inter-related that the reader will find it irresistible not to soak in every chapter or discourse of the book.
My best chapter of the book, incidentally the last chapter: “The Day the Christ will Come”, recounts the bastardization of Christianity in Ghana, a theme the hilarious youthful musician, Kofi Kinata, has thematically captured in his hit tune: Things Fall Apart. As Kwame Gyasi despairingly asks in the book, “Why do we mock God so much? How many of the people took bribes from their fellow citizens before performing their lawful duties? How many of them took food from the mouth of the hungry poor and the widow and the orphan? How many of them sold the secret of the nation to foreign criminals? How many of them diverted the taxes and other resources of the nation for their personal benefit?”
The refrain “corrupt, wicked and incompetent leadership” is used liberally to describe the epic source of all of Ghana’s corruption. He laments loudly: “You bribe to access education. You pay bribe to access health. You pay bribe to access utility. You pay bribe to get (a) police report”.
The book relies on useful, notable and authoritative quotes by world leaders to bring home the destructive consequence of corruption:
Jimmy Carter: No democracy is so strong as to withstand corruption;
Muhammadu Buhari: There is no economy, where corruption is the working capital
Corruption has become a useful terminology, to the extent that it enables us to misunderstand ourselves frequently. He reminds the reader in the book that much head-shaking has occurred in the fight against corruption. He muses over a lowered threshold of evidence, as well fragrant immunity, as definite fatal factors in the legal fight against corruption.
Is public education an effective response or part solution in the fight against corruption? Maybe it is not. After all, don’t the poor perceive corruption as less wrong, when they compare it with high crimes committed by people in positions of trust? Should the responsibility of eradication be placed on the very people who are at the victimization end of corruption? Who should bear the brunt of the fight against corruption? Will we go down in history as the generation that did nothing about corruption?
Can we ever say “mission accomplished” in the relentless fight against corruption? Kwame Gyasi offers sobering answers in A Voice Against CORRUPTION: Enough Is Enough. Band-aide response to Ghana’s corruption has been a bane. Any person, who laments Ghana’s leadership incompetence, who agonizes about Ghana’s underserved economic backwardness and who is passionate on seeing radical political and economic transformation needs to read his book to its last chapter. The fight against corruption is not about enacting laws; it is about enforcing laws. Corruption is making it hard for all Ghanaians to fight our poverty and the situation cannot continue anymore.
Note: Copies of the book are available at the\ offices of the Ghana Integrity Initiative, H/No 21. Abelenpke Road (near the blue and white Baptist building close to the Abelenpke traffic light), Tel: 030 – 2760884, or call Mr. Michael Boadi, GII Public Relations Manage. Tel 024 – 4286836, 050 – 1695951, or Kwame Gyasi, Tel: 027 -7588256.
Dr. Anthony K. Bonnah Koomson