Many still cannot process Auditor-General Daniel Domelevo’s principle stance that denies his son the chance even to tender his application for a job is he qualified for. He counselled or shall I say prevented his son from applying for employment in the Ghana Audit Service.
Reason? “I am your father and as long as I remain head of this institution, you are disqualified!” He told him. Well, as always, I hosted that NCCE national dialogue on the theme Public Accountability: Abuse of Office. I asked the question, but like many, I did not expect that disclosure in response. He tried to be nice explaining further, when I asked if this was fair.
He said his son will not be disciplined by those he will be working under when he does wrong. But this is a man who has worked with the World Bank and knows this is the legal culture and not a matter for one’s discretion. We are surprised and many have criticised him because we typically will argue that no law specifically forbids it, and so it is okay.
Truth is, we conveniently like to take our laws on the face while rejecting and pretending to be unaware of the socio-cultural, moral and prudential considerations and wisdom behind those laws. The Bible in 1 Thessalonians 5:22 says to “avoid all appearances of evil”. This, for the obvious and good reason, is a major thrust of our anti-corruption and conflict of interest laws and rules.
In the arena of the justice system, it is said that “It is not merely of some importance, but is of fundamental importance that justice should not only be done, but should manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done”. The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice’s code now transformed into the Conduct of Public Officers Bill, 2013 defines conflict of interest to include “an interest or benefit, financial or otherwise, direct or indirect,…incurring a personal obligation of any nature,… which has or may reasonably appear to have the potential to be contrary to the officer’s functions”.
Chapter 24 of our Constitution influenced the provisions of the Code of Ethics for Ministers & Political Appointees in Ghana (July 8, 2013). It provided under the heading the Minister & Conflict of Interest Situations that “[t]he Minister must avoid situations where his/her behaviour or attitude could be perceived as giving rise to a conflict of interest situation; and must conduct himself/herself always in the knowledge that his/her role is a public role and that appearances and propriety are as important as actual conflict of interest situations in determining whether the Minister’s behaviour is acceptable or not.”
The other discussants on the occasion, Prof. Stephen Adei and Clara Beeri Kasser-Tee were in one mind that corruption was not perceptibly pervasive but as a matter of fact and that this was also because of the lack of or wrong values.
In the 2015 Government Defence Anti Corruption Index, Transparency International couldn’t find one African country scoring A, B, or C. All 47 countries surveyed managed D, E and F all in the branding brackets of high, very high and critical risk ratings. Do you still want to ask why corruption thrives in Ghana? What are our values weighed against the truth of the scripture in 1 Corinthians 12: 23 “[a]ll things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not”.
Columnist: Samson Lardy ANYENINI
The author is a practicing lawyer and broadcast journalist.