‘Cocoa Season’ For Assembly Members, says Moshake


…As MMDCE nominees face huge bribe demands as precondition for pass

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s recent nomination of 212 metropolitan, municipal and district chief executives (MMDCEs) has been mostly greeted with unrests, with many New Patriotic Party foot soldiers protesting.

However, the loud protestation from party foot soldiers over many of the nominees is not the only act of indiscipline that fraught this aspect of Ghana’s democracy. Something worse than opposing the President’s choice of local administrative heads, bribery, is also at play.

As the nominees get ready to face confirmation votes at the various assemblies around the country, they know that they must be prepared to pay various sums of money to Assembly members to ensure that their nominations are not rejected. This is why at the Assembly level, this time of the democracy calendar is called the “Cocoa Season.”

Stephen Ashitey Adjei, Executive Member of the Tema East branch of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), tells of huge monetary demands that had been made by members of the Tamale Metropolitan Assembly (TMA) before Iddrisu Musah Superior, the MCE, was endorsed earlier in the year.

Musah Superior had garnered a curious 100% of Assembly members’ votes, securing all 57 votes of Assembly members to become MCE for Tamale.

Mr. Ashitey Adjei, also known as Moshake, says the overwhelming endorsement for Mr. Superior had been achieved on the back of demanded bribes, some as huge as GHc1,000 per Assembly member.

He fears that after the President’s nomination of the 212 more Assembly members, bribe demands are going to be rampant around the country as Assembly members demand backhanders as precondition for voting to confirm nominees.

“But this is bad because it goes against PNDC Law 284,” he said.

That law, known as, the, “Representation of the People Law,” catalogues, in Section 33, the various forms of bribery as follows:

“ (1) A person commits the offence of bribery-

”(a) if he directly or acting through another person-

”(i) gives money or obtains an office for a voter in order to induce the voter to vote or refrain from voting; or

”(ii) corruptly does such an act on account of a voter having voted or refrained from voting; or

”(iii) makes a gift or provides something of value to a voter to induce the voter to vote in a certain way or to obtain the election of a candidate; or

”(b) if he advances or pays money or causes money to be paid to or for the use of a person with the intent that the money or part of it shall be expended in bribery at an election, or knowingly pays money or causes money to be paid to a person in discharge or repayment of money wholly or in part expended in bribery at an election; or

”(c) if before or during an election he directly or indirectly, by himself or through another person acting on his behalf, receives, agrees or contracts for money, gift, a loan or valuable consideration or an office, place or employment for himself or for another person for voting or agreeing to vote or for refraining or agreeing to refrain from voting; or

”(d) if after an election he directly or through another person receives money or valuable consideration on account of a person having voted or refrained from voting or having induced another person to vote or to refrain from voting.

”(2) For the purpose of subsection (1)-

”(a) references to giving money include giving, lending, agreeing to give or lend, offering, promising and promising to procure or to endeavour to procure money or valuable consideration; and

”(b) references to procuring office include giving, procuring, agreeing to give or procure, offering, promising and promising to procure or to endeavour to procure an office, place or employment.”

Moshake underscored at a press conference in Tamale that, “both the giver and taker of bribes are guilty of bribery.”

Saying it is shameful that Ghana’s local government system is so stooped in bribery, he cast doubts on the appropriateness of the President’s decision to institute a system in which DCEs are elected.

“Even if with the President’s hand in the appointment of a DCE at the moment, the process is fraught with bribery, then what will become of it if the DCE’s appointment is strictly subject to election?” Moshake asked.

Many people have been jailed because of the violation of sections of the Criminal Offences Act, and if Assembly members violate ACT 29 of the criminal code and walk to freedom, then what sense does it make to harbour prisoners across the country? We are equal before the law and Assembly members are not more human beings than the rest of Ghanaians.

He urged Assembly members to be law-abiding, hate what is bad and love what is good. After all, good name is better than riches.

He called on the President to deploy undercover agents at the various Assemblies around the country to investigate the approval process for all the newly nominated MMDCEs, saying, anyone who is found demanding, taking or giving bribes should be sanctioned.

Moshake was full of praise for past and current Assembly members of the Tema metropolis, and added that since the country returned to multi-party democracy in 1992, he has never heard of TMA members demanding bribe from a nominee for endorsement before.

“I am blissfully happy that Tema Assembly members have developed the habit of doing good in order to gain the favour of the Almighty God,” Moshake noted.




Source: therepublicnewsonline.com/ Fiifi Samuels

The Republic News Online

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