Some Ghanaians are reportedly expressing outrage after the Public Accounts Committee and the Auditor General's report suggested that there is a high level of corruption throughout the public service. They blamed President John Kufuor for reneging on his promise to root out corruption. Meanwhile the presidential candidate of the main opposition National Democratic Congress has criticized President Kufuor for amassing wealth since coming into office to the detriment of ordinary Ghanaians. Evans Atta-Mills described President Kufuor's graft fight as ridiculous and an affront to all Ghanaians. But President Kufuor's government says the opposition wants to score cheap political points ahead of this year's election.
Kwesi Pratt is the publisher and editor-in-chief of the Weekly Insight, an independent Ghanaian newspaper. He tells reporter Peter Clottey from the capital, Accra that the rate of corruption is astronomical.
"There is evidence of very high level of corruption throughput the public service. And in fact the report of the Public Accounts Committee and the Auditor General are very clear on that. The levels of corruption run into hundreds of billions of cedis (over $86 Million) and there is no doubt it's all about that. In fact a parliamentary investigation into corruption established that the judiciary has been quite corrupt. So, there could be some basis for this allegation," Pratt pointed out.
He said President Kufuor has reneged on his promise to fight corruption since coming to power.
"That promise was abandoned long time ago. About three years ago, President Kufuor said publicly that he was not going to expose corruption in his government in order not to make his government unpopular. That for me is the clearest indication that the promise to fight corruption has been abandoned a long time ago," he said.
Pratt said recent alleged corrupt practices among close relatives of government officials have led some Ghanaians to express outrage against President Kufuor's administration.
"Not too long ago, one of his ministers was found to have had a deposit of two billion cedis (about $2 million) in his account. This became public knowledge and the reaction of the Kufuor administration was to ask the minister to resign. There has been no investigation and there has been no prosecution. So, the commitment to fight corruption was abandoned a long time ago," Pratt, noted.
He said Ghanaians are expressing a lack of confidence in the current administration's fight against corruption.
"Many Ghanaians feel a sense of outrage have spoken out against the massive levels of corruption in public administration. You know the levels of wealth that have been acquired by people in government and their relatives are amazing. In the first few months of Kufuor's assumption of office his son, bought a hotel valued at about $8 million, I mean this is clearly unthinkable. You know the son who was not a businessman before the father came into office manages to buy a hotel at $8 million dollars," he said.
Pratt reiterated that Ghanaians seem to be displeased about the allegations of wealth being amassed by some government officials and their relatives.
"Ghanaians have a sense of outrage, especially at a time when public sector workers are suffering unduly. Newly recruited teachers for example have not been paid for 14 months; newly recruited nurses have not been paid also for more than a year, and railway workers have not been paid for six months and so on. And in the face of all of these there is evidence that people in government and their relatives are amassing wealth," Pratt said.
He said although a sizable number of media outlets are in bed with the government, some independents are saying what is wrong in the society.
"I think that the Ghanaian media is completely polarized, and a large section of the media is in bed with government. A large section of the media feels that it is part of government, so the media has not done as much as it ought to do. However, it is also important that the opposition parties also have some support within the independent media. And also there are a few clearly non-partisan media and these media houses have been in the lead in exposure of corruption," he said.