They Have Got The Wrong Man 7

I am very sorry that former Presidential Chief of Staff Kwadwo Mpiani is on trial in Ghana.

It is undeniably true that corruption spiralled in the last couple of years of President Kuffour’s second term, and particularly after the untimely death of Finance Minister Baah-Wiredu. I have a hypothesis, based on wide international experience, that it is a worldwide phenomenon that corruption increases exponentially from around the seventh year in power. In Ghana, it happened to the Rawlings governments too.

I have written in detail about this, and I have argued that it is essential that corruption in Ghana is punished, so that it is not thought that senior politicians have immunity. Ghana must not develop Nigeria’s culture of corruption.

But it seems a great pity that Kwadwo Mpiani has been singled out for the first high profile tria since the NDC came to power. Kwadwo is a hate figure for the then opposition and now governing NDC; I know from many conversations with senior NDC figures that they regarded him as the hub of corrupt dealings.

But in fact, this is the opposite of the truth. Kwadwo was deliberately excluded from the worst examples of corrupt dealings – he was kept out of Sahara, Balkan and Zakhem. This is precisely because Mpiani was not part of the corrupt clique who kidnapped the financial control of the closing stages of the NPP government.

I say this in his defence, despite the fact that Kwadwo and hs brother Sarpong in recent months launched a number of really nasty personal attacks on me and my family in the Ghanaian media. I say it simply because it is true.

It is also interesting that the only high profile corruption trial so far is brought over the Ghana @ 50 celebrations. They were indeed far too extravagant for a developing country like Ghana, but there is one other interesting feature. They are closed, finished, over and done with. There is no continuing revenue stream.

That is in contrast to the much bigger contracts suspected of corruption, like Balkan, Vodafone, GIA, and Zakhem. These are continuing projects with big money still flying around. Is it wrong to conjecture that projects with continuing revenue flows are less likely to be prosecuted, because money is still available to buy off officials and politicians?

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7 thoughts on “They Have Got The Wrong Man

  • Leo

    Craig, I admire the fact that you can defend someone regarding one issue even while in a dispute with the same person on another issue.

    Many would not do that and would instead sit back and enjoy any misfortune, deserved or not, which fell upon their detractors.

    Bravo, sir.

  • Clark


    your “seven year rule” certainly seems about right in the UK. The warning signs are there near the end of the second term but get glossed over, and then the third term is a disaster, ending mired in sleaze.

  • Mark Golding - Children of Iraq

    Bravo Craig – you are a brave voice in the endemic labyrinth of abuse of entrusted power for private gain. The bribes for preferential treatment or bribes to obtain services such a ‘buying off’ officials and politicians.

    On the political front, corruption constitutes a major obstacle to democracy and the rule of law. In a democratic system, offices and institutions lose their legitimacy when they are misused for private advantage.

    I agree Clark, in Britain, the expenses scandal has resulted in politicians losing their legitimacy. As a direct result of this greed the coming election will result in a ‘hung’ parliament. The effect of this corruption on the social fabric of society is the most damaging of all. It undermines people’s trust in the political system, in its institutions and its leadership.

    Craig quite rightly points out, in developing democracies, economically, corruption leads to the depletion of national wealth. It is often responsible for the funnelling of scarce public resources to uneconomic high-profile projects, such as dams, power plants, pipelines and refineries, at the expense of less spectacular but fundamental infrastructure projects such as schools, hospitals and roads, or the supply of power and water to rural areas.

    Craig also said, “The hypocrisy of the British government in defending corrupt British companies was most famously seen when Tony Blair ordered an end to a prosecution of the arms company BAE over massive bribes they had paid in Saudi Arabia. Blair declared that prosecuting BAE was not “In the national interest”.

    We remember the deals were condemned by Amnesty International as a clear endorsement of a country ruled by a repressive regime who displayed a ‘persistent pattern of gross human rights abuses.’BAe was the prime contractor for the entire deal, which included the sale of 48 Tornado bombers, 24 Tornado fighters, 30 Hawk trainer-fighters, and a large number of Rapier missiles. It also involved millions of pounds worth of corrupt commissions paid to Arabian businessmen, which THE CONSERVATIVE GOVERNMENT of the time denied, and which eventually led to the downfall of Jonathan Aitken.

  • Vivian

    This is getting so weird it’s hard to keep up. It’s like Kafka on acid.

    It seems now that if you’re an invader of another country you can be unlawfully killed by those who are lawfully resisting your invasion.

    Those who are lawfully resisting are illegal, whilst those who are unlawfully invading are legal.

    The simple truth is that the US and UK have decided that they are the Law in whatever they do.

    These are truly the most evil terrorist states, and the greatest threat to humanity we have ever seen.

    Not in my name!!

    “The most senior Army officer to die in Afghanistan and another soldier were unlawfully killed, a coroner has ruled.”

  • Dr John

    Now that you’ve survived this latest attempt by liars to censor your telling the truth about them, isn’t it about time you wrote a book specifically about the long list of liars you’ve won against in their attempts to smear and censor the truths you’ve told about them?

    That’s a whole book in itself, and one that will collate these liars all in one place, for the ease of future historians of our very corrupt times.

  • sembe

    What is ‘corruption’?

    Deals distorted by violence, blackmail, extortion, etc. are Mafia-style corruption. It’s seizing hold of Nigeria, but not – God willing – Ghana.

    Then there is taking money by deception or unrealistic promises. This happens often in Ghana. The deal is the true prize: you talk someone into giving you money by promising the world, but then you forget about the promises. It’s a bit like promising marriage just to get a woman into bed. That’s why Ghana is so bureaucratic: contracts and paperwork are vital to enforce delivery. But it doesn’t change the underlying culture. People are still very slow to follow through on their promises, and will avoid doing so if possible. It’s endemic in everyday culture, and the gullible are seen by some as fair game. If you give the money upfront (as ‘capital investment’), it too often only buys you excuses. Craig spotlighted the Zakhem affair: same thing, bigger scale.

    Nepotism is regarded as a form of corruption, but in Ghana it’s a way to combat these false promises. Strangers with no sense of honour are liable to renege on deals for their own interests once the money has been received. Ghanaian society is bound together by family and community, and people prefer to honour loyalities first and law second. This system of tribal ethics has many advantages over ‘objective’ contract law, where corporations with powerful lawyers can exploit loopholes and plunder social and environmental resources with impunity as lonq as it is all ‘within the rules’. For example, in Ghana, a ‘dash’ is a gesture of communal loyalty and a social contribution, but outsiders see it only as a ‘bribe’. Your system of economics was originallly based on this culture of voluntary transactions and mutual honour, but has forgotten its roots. You need law where you have no loyalty.

    When you measure your wealth only in cash you have lost your sense of value. Ghanaians understand the Western system but have no wish to degenerate to it.

    The West condemns the ‘corruption’ in the Ghanaian system, without understanding. When you look at the vaults of money in your guarded fortresses and wonder where is the value of life, maybe you will find it in community, and seek to protect that first.

  • Craig


    Thanks – that is fascinating and has given me a lot to think about.

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