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General News
CJA Statement On PAC Hearing 10/31/2007
Committee For Joint Action (Cja) Statement To Media Conference On Public Accounts Committee Of Parliament’s Public Hearings
Ladies and gentlemen of the Media:

We thank you for coming. We have invited you to discuss recent revelations at the public sittings of the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament.

We do not wish to rehash the shocking litany of greed and irresponsibility that the PAC has unveiled. Nor do we wish to highlight the embarrassing arrogance, emptiness and indeed thoughtlessness that political appointees confronted with this litany of abuse have displayed. You the media have, for the most part, done an excellent job in bringing this circus to public attention. Rather, today we wish to dwell on the implications of these exposures for our national life. We also wish to address actions necessary to save our country and its institutions from final collapse. Ladies and Gentlemen: What is the significance of what the PAC sittings have exposed?

First, Ladies and gentlemen, it is abundantly clear that over the last 5 years corruption has been pervasive across Ministries, Departments and Agencies. It is not an isolated aberration. The examples are as endless as they are disgusting.

Second, ladies and gentlemen, it is obvious that ethical and professional standards in our public services have collapsed. There has so far been an absolute failure of our accountability systems to expose, punish and correct criminal misapplication of public resources over the last 5 years. Of course, not every public servant is incompetent or grossly dishonest. However, the level of failure exhibited suggests that many in the senior echelons of the public service are indeed corrupt or incompetent. The fact that the rest failed to act sooner suggests a warped sense of solidarity, deep moral cowardice, or sheer incompetence. A case in point appears to be the solidarity (or worse!) which GBC management has shown in halting live broadcasts of the PAC hearings. There can be few matters of comparable interest to the public at present. We would expect GBC as the Public Broadcaster therefore to accord these sittings at least the same priority that they have in the past assigned to e.g. the sittings of the National Reconciliation Commission.

Third, ladies and gentlemen, it is obvious that political leadership has completely failed us. It is the President’s responsibility through his handpicked appointees to provide oversight of public administration and protect the public interest. Clearly, senior appointees of the Kuffour administration were aware of this massive looting for several years and took absolutely no action. Again, this can only be explained by their direct complicity, gross recklessness or negligence, or monumental incompetence. Certainly, the disgusting display of sudden wealth on the part of NPP leaders (and especially Presidential aspirants) is entirely consistent with massive looting. Certainly also the President’s loud commitment to attacking corruption is conclusively now exposed as cynical misdirection. Jointly and severally, President Kufuor and his appointees must take political and legal responsibility for this looting.

Fourth, Ladies and gentlemen, the silence from the so-called pillars of the social establishment remains deafening. Where are the churches? Where are the professional bodies? What is academia saying about this looting? Our so-called social leadership continues to delude itself that it is being politically mature as it tolerates this rape. In short it is just as culpable as the political and bureaucratic elite that the PAC is exposing so clearly. For that matter, ladies and gentlemen where are all the international agencies that have been so lavish in their praise for the Kufuor administrations’s probity and accountability?

Fifth, and most important, ladies and gentlemen, this is not just another passing scandal. It is a crisis reflecting the breakdown of law and order . We are witnessing the implosion of the Ghanaian state. Our leaders have fundamentally and publicly violated the social contract and there is now absolutely no basis for trust in our national institutions, controlled as they are by these vampires. Today many Ghanaians are asking themselves fundamental questions about our democracy in private. Why should wretchedly impoverished citizens pay taxes just for the governing elite to simply pocket and squander? Why should citizens accept skyrocketing utility and fuel bills just to support the decadent lifestyles of the ruling elite? Why should Ghanaians continue to respect the authority of a leadership that has demonstrated that it is entirely unfit to lead? Why should citizens in mining and timber areas continue to accept displacement and deprivation so that foreign so-called investors can supposedly earn “Ghana” foreign exchange when this foreign exchange serves purely to import more luxuries for the governing elite or to swell their foreign bank accounts? Should twenty million Ghanaians continue to tolerate the arrogance and brutality of a few thousand “security officers” - when it is clear that they offer us no security, have no respect for our constitutional rights and serve only to protect these crooks from public accountability? When will it end?

Ladies and Gentlemen: there are two kinds of responses to this crisis. One response which too many Ghanaians, out of despair, have accepted is “if-you-can’t-beat-them-join-them”. Many are copying the big social predators in government and becoming small social predators - stealing the little that is available to them, engaging in 419, drug trafficking and armed robbery. Many are seeking private revenge for abuse by attacking policemen and stations. Of course, none of this lawless activity resolves the fundamental problem. Indeed, it makes it worse. It amounts to the mmoborowa leaving the big predators in place and feeding on each other. It makes millions almost as culpable as the vampires who are sucking our blood. Eventually as has happened in sister countries like Liberia, Sierra Leone and la Cote d’Ivoire it leads to civil collapse and conflict. Anyone who is even slightly familiar with the consequences of civil collapse in these countries will know that this is not the way we want to go.

The other response, ladies and gentlemen, is mass social activism as sanctioned by our constitution. We can compel our political and bureaucratic officials to be accountable – indeed put the fear of God in them. The time for passivism or appeasement of the elite is over. Things will not get better unless we act decisively. They will get worse. Much worse. Over the last few years, thousands of Ghanaians have joined us in mass protests against abuse of citizens economic, social and political rights and other forms of official arrogance. Each “wahala” protest limited the ability of our leadership to take us for a ride – as spokesmen of the ruling party have often acknowledged over the years. Without wahala our situation would be much worse than it is today. Unfortunately, ladies and gentlemen, while many have joined us even more have stayed away – not because they disagree with our message but because they lack confidence in democratic processes and because they believe that the elite is too firmly entrenched to be controlled. History however teaches a different lesson. We have the history of Ghana’s independence and our victorious struggles to establish constitutional rule. We have the recent international history of popular uprisings in Yugoslavia, Ukraine, the Philippines and many other places. There is no force in society that is more powerful than the organised people - not government, not ruling parties, not police forces, not armies. If we have the will we can democratically impose accountability on state officials and insist that they work for and not against social justice.

Ladies and gentlemen, if Ghanaians want accountable governance, peace and prosperity we will have to struggle for it. Now. It is time to stand up, to flood our streets, to fill the airwaves and the print media. To make our officials sit up and pay attention. We cannot wait for next year’s election. We are as disgusted as most Ghanaians that former NPP ministers actually have the temerity to offer themselves for public office despite the monumental failure of their government. However, we would be deceiving ourselves if we think that the problems we face can be solved simply by voting the NPP out of office. We need to establish a constructive accountable relationship between the people and officials so that no party will ever take us for a ride again. That means activism now – and forever.

Let us demand concrete things of our rulers.

First, we demand immediate prosecution and punishment of the officials identified in the Auditor General’s report to have mismanaged or misappropriated funds. This is possible even without resort to the controversial rules regarding “causing financial loss to the state”.

Second, we demand institutional reform. We want better funding and empowerment of the accountability institutions established by our laws including the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice and the Serious Fraud Office and measures to protect these agencies from executive interference. We also want urgent action on the Financial Administration Tribunal. It is not enough to state “work is ongoing”. We have a crisis and we demand action. We also demand that prosecution authority be given greater independence from the Attorney General’s department.

Third, we demand a code of conduct for all political appointees with real sanctions for those who fail to meet minimum standards of accountability. This is not really difficult to do. For example, we are tired of hearing incumbents and their supporters argue that it is not possible to indicate clearly when public resources are used for campaign as opposed to public purposes. It is possible to identify personal use and to bill candidates for this use. There are many examples of such codes around the world, which we could adapt for our purposes.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the media, we have a crisis on our hands, the political leadership and some of our public servants are looting the State’s coffers and all of us Ghanaians must stand up and fight against these Kleptocrats. We dare not lose this struggle.

Accra 25th October 2007

Source:
GHP

 
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