07 February 2019
Posteado en : Interview
Shamima Muslim, ARAP project specialist, reflects in this interview on the role of the media when they raise issues of corruption, particularly in the case of Ghana
As a media worker and specialist on the ARAP project (Ghana’s Accountability, Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption Programme), funded by the European Union and managed by FIIAPP, do you think that the media address the issue of corruption?
We have been reflecting on this since I started in the media in 2008. Even before that, corruption has always been a key issue, especially at election time. All politicians and political parties who campaign and come to power always have it in the spotlight, they fight against corruption in their public speeches and insist on the need to be accountable. So we recognise that it exists.
And do you think that the media is sensitive to corruption?
We have not given our best. Well, maybe we have given our best, but the best has not been enough. Since the media is a news industry, when a big new corruption issue appears, everything is immediately told, but then people go on with their lives and their problems and they have already forgotten by the following news story. I think we have to develop a culture that is slightly different from the culture of the cursor and Google, which is what we have been doing.
So, do you think that the media should play a more active and permanent role in corruption issues?
The media have to do more than they are doing right now because both the media and the people who work in them should be the eyes of society.
The mass media is a powerful tool for socialisation. If we use them efficiently, we will make citizens aware of many things: cases of fraud, theft, contract inflation, etc., all of the issues that reduce public resources and prevent State players from making the proper investments in social services.
But we need support, for example, by targeting certain key influencers in the media and making them part of this process of holding leaders accountable. Newscasters who present the morning magazine programme, professionals who do night programmes, professionals who give the news, etc. You need them to be part of the process. And so we get an ally who has the power of the microphone and who is able to ask the important questions, thanks to the point of view they have acquired.
What role can social media play in this awareness?
Information, information, information. Social networks are the future, but we must also remember that not everyone is on them. Internet access is still very expensive in most of Africa and virtually non-existent in some communities. So maybe you are not able to use social networks for an appropriate general mobilisation of society, of citizens, from different economic strata. Especially if you want general collective action.
But even so, social networks are very useful: we have seen what has happened in Ghana. We have seen campaigns on social networks that have forced the Government to change certain policies. When the government wants to introduce a new policy and we say it’s a bad idea … There was a case where the government said, “If you do not pay for your television licence, you will have to go to court.“ All this brought a great public uproar: it was a campaign organised purely on social networks. Influencers and young people on social media protested and protested. In a few hours, or a day or two, it was announced that this policy was not going to be implemented.
So social networks are a powerful tool to mobilise a certain group of people who share the same ideas, who are a little more informed. There are some people who are influencers on social networks and who, when they open discussions on their walls, generate arguments.
What do citizens achieve with all this?
If the media play their role, we, the citizens, will be able to force our leaders to be accountable, because they know that the media will always be watching them until things are done well.
13 April 2018
Posteado en : Reportage
The Ghana-ARAP Project relies on institutions to get the public involved. According to Transparency International, sub-Saharan Africa is the worst–rated region in this respect
“Having to pay for a service we have a right to receive – do you think that is corruption?” Barbara Mensah asks the people of Ghana, referring to one of the most burning questions of our time. She is one of the Civic Education Officers responsable for investigating perceptions of corruption in Ghana.
“I am going to ask about certain practices, you tell me if you think they are corrupt” was the question put by another of these officers, Jafaru Omar. Through a questionnaire, officers appointed by Ghana’s National Commission for Civic Eduction (NCCE) survey the views of citizens in different parts of the country.
On the ground, the findings are already clear: of the 8672 responses, over half those surveyed (58.4%) have been witnesses to some form of corruption. Henrrieta Assante-Sharpong, in charge of the investigation, says: “the findings show that although Ghanaians are aware of corruption, they have very little knowledge of the various ways it may be practised.”
The NCCE was set up for the purpose of increasing public awareness: “Our lives are going backwards. We don’t have roads, there is no electricity. The money gained from corruption could have been used for these services”, says Aluliga Malpang, a farmer from the Tengzuk Community. Sub-Saharan Africa is the worst-rated region for corruption, according to the most recent report from Transparency International.
Cooperation in a hostile climate
The report on the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) rates 180 countries and territories according to perceived levels of corruption in the public sector, using a scale of zero to 100, where zero is extremely corrupt and 100 highly transparent.
New Zealand and Denmark are highest-placed in 2017, with scores of 89 and 88 respectively. Syria, South Sudan and Somalia have the lowest scores, with 14, 12 and 9 respectively. Ghana is in 81st place, with 40 points – a score above the average for the sub-Saharan region (32 points).
Nevertheless, the study shows that over two-thirds of countries had scores below 50. Transparency International works internationally and locally in over 100 countries in the world: “giving a voice to the victims of corruption, working with governments, undertakings and citizens to stop the abuse of power or bribery”. It states that most countries are making little or no progress in putting an end to corruption.
Ghana does not want to be in that category. Its initiative is part of the Anti-Corruption, Rule of Law and Accountability” programme. It is a project in support of transparency, with the aim of reducing corruption and improving accountability in the African country. For four and a half years, FIIAPP has been managing this programme, financed by the European Union, in collaboration with GIZ (Germany) and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
“I want to help solve the corruption problem”, said Joseph Samuel Bebefiankom, a student in Kwashieman (Accra). Like him, other citizens say “it could be reduced, cut back”, “that will provide jobs for a lot of people” “it will help the country to develop.” They know what they want to achieve, but not how to achieve it.
A number of Ghanaian public institutions such as the NCCE, in collaboration with FIIAPP, have designed a strategy to involve the public, as well as others, in the struggle against corruption. One of the priorities of Ghana-ARAP is to raise their awareness of the importance of reporting it.
The more leaders that get involved, the less corruption there will be
The África no es un país [‘Africa is not one country’] blog reminds us, in the same report, that “2017 has seen the fall of a number of rulers accused of encouraging corruption”: Yahya Jammeh in Gambia, José Eduardo dos Santos in Angola, Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe and, already in 2018, Jacob Zuma of South Africa.
George Obeng Obei is another Civic Education Officer. He says “people without much education don’t know how things are done in assemblies and in institutions. But they do believe there are elements of corruption in them”, Not knowing how it works doesn’t mean they don’t see it. They know, they are aware, according to Obeng Obei, that you can only get things with money. And this mindset has to be changed.
According to Transparency International, it is the right time to “redefine” the problem in Africa, as, in some cases, the CPI points to a “hopeful future” for the continent. In spite of being the worst region overall, some countries have made significant progress, such as Botswana (61), which has a higher rating than Spain (59).
The key, according to the organisation, is that these countries have “a political leader committed to fighting corruption.” That is why they go further in developing laws and institutions in this regard. Ghana is making efforts in this direction, and its government has introduced a National Anti-corruption Action Plan (NACAP) to steer the project.
If the public at large also gets involved, success will be one step closer. The president of the NCCE, Josephine Nkrumah, knows this. She assesses the investigation conducted in the country: “NCCE will use this report to create civic education actions. To win the battle, we have to get both the public and the private sector involved. And what is even more important is getting every Ghanaian man and woman involved.”
“Winning the fight against corruption” is the African Union (AU)’s motto for 2018. This phrase could be said to apply to almost the whole world. It stems from the premise that “corruption rewards those who disobey the rules, destroying all the endeavours of constructive, just and equitable governance”.
The areas investigated in Ghana are shown in this video: