Organised crime remains a threat to Ghana’s security, says GACC

The Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC) said although the country had taken commendable legal steps to stamp out organised crimes there is a need to do more to achieve the desired impact

The Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC) has said the country’s democratic progress and long-term stability are seriously being undermined by the increasing phenomenon of organised crimes.

The GACC said although the country had taken commendable legal steps to stamp out organised crimes, particularly money laundering, drug peddling and illegal mining, more needed to be done to achieve the desired impact.

Consequently, it is pushing for changes to the Political Parties Act, 2000 (Act 574) to make actors more accountable to maintain the democratic credentials.

Beauty Emefa Narteh, the executive secretary of GACC, announced this at a sensitisation on organised crimes held in Assin Fosu.

The forum was aimed at enhancing the capacity of the public to contribute to the fight against threats of organised crimes, most importantly, in the lead-up to the 2024 general elections.

It was arranged by GACC in collaboration with the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP) and supported by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).

Narteh said safeguarding Ghana’s stability in the face of serious and organised crime ahead of the 2024 elections was a non-negotiable deal and was in tandem with GACC’s vision of fighting corruption and promoting good governance in the daily lives of the people and institutions.

This could be achieved by forging strong, trusting and effective partnerships with government, businesses and civil society.

Most often, she said, the massive sums of money politicians disburse to contest political office did not match with the audited accounts of political parties lodged at the Electoral Commission.

Narteh said if the law could not be changed to reflect the times, politicians could decide to be accountable by stating publicly how much they received for their political bid and how it was spent.

That way, she said, the public would be convinced when politicians pledged to champion the fight against corruption when elected into office.

Narteh also condemned the apparent unethical practice of vote buying that had taken centre stage in recent times, with instances recorded during elections.

Vote-buying refers to the act of offering gifts, money, or other incentives in return for votes during elections.

Vote-buying, she said, manifested in different ways, such as sharing money, food items, and other resources, offering jobs, scholarships, and the offer of other economic incentives.
“The promises made are attractive, but they come at a high cost to the integrity of Ghana’s democracy. Vote-buying is inimical to Ghana’s democracy, as it undermines the sanctity of the election and electoral process.

“It discourages a free, fair and transparent election process as voters become influenced by the gift or benefits received instead of voting based on policy, ideology and competence of those seeking elected positions.

“The practice leads to an unequal distribution of public resources to benefit the areas where politicians have bought votes,” she said, noting it needed collective responsibility to stop it.
Similarly, Samuel Harrison-Cudjoe, programmes officer at GACC, commended the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) for declaring individuals seen on video flaunting money allegedly acquired from parliamentary candidates, wanted.

“We hope this isn’t a wild goose chase or much ado about nothing; however, we applaud the OSP for taking this action to create ‘fear of God’ in people who will join in future to exhibit this terrible behaviour.

“Even if only one person is convicted for these reasons, it will serve as a deterrent. People may be encouraged to engage in it in public if there are no convictions and will not face the consequences,” he noted.

As Ghana prepares for the upcoming 2024 General Elections, there is the need for a collective responsibility to prevent vote buying from marring the country’s election process and maintaining Ghana’s enviable democratic credentials in the comity of nations, he added.

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