Ghana’s democracy: Trying time for ‘probity and accountability’

 Yordanos Goushe





The Alliance for Accountable Government of Ghana (AFAG), a civil society group, is calling on the government in Ghana to take actions in an ongoing trial of a multi- million dollar corruption case dubbed as the Woyome scandal.

In the second week of June 2012 AFAG has issued a five day ultimatum for the arrest of the Finance Minster Dr.Kwabena Dufour and Madam Betty Mold –Iddris, the Former Attorney General. It also threatened that failure by the government to bring the Woyome scandal players to justice will force it to continue its pressure through a series of demonstrations and other civil actions. AFAG believes the state’s laid-back position in Woyome scandal since it first surfaced in the beginning of 2012 is due to its lack of political will to fight corruption.

The Woyome scandal

In December 2012, Ghana’s ruling party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) will be facing elections and is nervous about the prospects. Four of its officials and prime supporters are charged with corruption which has seriously dented the party’s reputation and credibility when it needed it most.

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Prominent amongst all is the case for Alfred Agbesi Woyome, a powerful supporter and financier of the ruling NDC who was charged with crimes including corrupting public officials over a multi-million dollar payment that a government inquiry alleged he had claimed illegally.

It is a case involving the government led by former president John Kufuor and a 2005 milti-million dollar bid for the rehabilitation of three different sport stadia in Accra, Sekondi-Takoradi and Tamale towns. The bid was won by Waterville Holding (BVI) Ltd, which on December 19, 2005, engaged M-powapak, led by a now disgraced businessman Alfred Woyome, to provide it with financial engineering services to the projects.  However the formal contract between the government and Waterville Holding (BVI) Ltd was terminated by the former in light of cheaper bid offers from Chinese companies. The breach of contract led to payment by the government of a substantial amount of money for Waterville Holding (BVI) Ltd. Waterville Holding (BVI) Ltd on its part paid M-powapak of Mr. Woyome’s for the financial engineering services it provided to the projects. So far it was so good.

But in August 2009, Mr. Woyome, allegedly taking advantage of the change in government a year earlier, had misrepresented the facts on the Stadia constructions and claimed the old government led by Mr. Kufuor owed his company M-powapak money for losses incurred when the government terminated the contract with Waterville Holding (BVI) Ltd and managed the current government to pay him GH¢51, 283,480.59 ($ 34 million). Nobody can wholly fathom how exactly Mr. Woyome got away with that. But its gradual effect led to the resignation of Betty Mould Iddrisu from her post as Education Minister. Mrs. Iddrisu was the former Attorney General linked to the decision to pay Mr. Woyome.

In February 2012 a court in the capital Accra has also charged Chief Attorney Samuel Nerquaye-Tetteh along with his wife Gifty NerquayeTetteh and Paul Asimenu, a Director at the Legal Department of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning with “aiding and abetting” a crime.

President John Atta Mills’ critics say even after losing his close aides and an influential businessman to the scandal he remains soft on corruption. Others say he has pushed his record against corruption ahead of a presidential election this year and ordered the investigation into payments to Woyome, which found Mr. Woyome had made false claims.

Probity and accountability and the June 4th Revolution

On 15th of May 1979 Flight Lieutenant Jerry John Rawlings was thrown behind bars for attempting a failed Coup d’etat.

A few weeks later on June 4th fellow friends and troops led by Captain Boakye –Djan decided to free Rawlings from prison. The result of the prison break and the successful coup that followed resulted in the June 4th revolution with the “Ghana First” agenda. This is an agenda Ghanaians believe was founded on the principles of “probity and accountability” and was written with the blood of the martyrs of June 4th.

Ghana has been through the ups and downs of purifying its murky past and has successfully become one of Africa’s symbolic democracies. Both probity and accountability remained the guiding principles of successive governments.

But move the clock forward 20 years and Ghana has a Rawling who is against the party he formed and who is labeling his former friends and ideal mates as “greedy bastards” who are spoiling and killing his brainchild NDC.

After competing and losing to President Atta Mills (affectingly called the Yutong Bus Driver) to become the next NDC flag bearer, Rawling’s wife Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings is reportedly claiming ownership of the NDC’s logo (the famous umbrella with an eagle crest). Rawling, who is helplessly witnessing a multi-million dollars corruption scandal rock his country, is standing by his wife.

Both warn that should the ruling party continue to veer off NDC’s guiding principles of probity and accountability that brought about the logo Mrs. Rawling claimed to have personally designed the ruling party should think of getting a new logo for the December elections.

“The Yutong Bus Driver has driven the NDC bus into the Ditch” said the Rawlings in their speech at Aflao on June 4th.

With the ruling NDC literally split into two and the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) breathing down their necks in public opinion polls, the December election in Ghana is set to be a pivotal one not only for Ghana, Africa’s oldest democracy, but also for the cardinal principles of ‘probity and accountability’ on which the current constitution of Ghana is based.

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