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The Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC), in collaboration with the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII) and the Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP), has educated journalists on the intricate relationship between organized crime and political financing in Ghana.
This initiative, supported by the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office, aimed to address the growing concerns over the influence of illicit financial networks on political campaigns, especially as Ghana nears its 2024 elections.
Beauty Nartey, the Executive Secretary of GACC, speaking on the alarming levels of expenditure in political campaigns on Wednesday, 7th February 2024 stated the exorbitant cost of elections in Ghana raises eyebrows and questions about the sources of such funds, pointing to a possible reliance on external, often illicit, support.
She cited research from the Center for Democratic Development (CDD) that indicates a troubling overlap between financing political activities and serious organized crime.
The training underscored the media’s pivotal role in illuminating these issues, urging journalists to delve into the foundations of political campaigns and expose any illegal activities tied to electoral processes.
“It is imperative to bring these culprits to light. Ghana’s future is at stake, and we have to name, shame, and, if warranted, prosecute those who use illicit gains to fund political ambitions,” Nartey added.
In a presentation, Leo Anthony Assiamah from the Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO) shed light on how electoral abuse, including voter intimidation and vote buying, can undermine democracy.
He emphasized the lack of focus on criminal interference in elections and revealed a 59% increase in the cost of running for office as a Member of Parliament (MP) between 2012 and 2016.
He disclosed that the average cost to secure a party nomination in 2016 was GH¢ 389,803 ($85,000). He stressed the need for a collective effort to combat the threats posed by Serious and Organized Crimes (SOCs) to Ghana’s democracy.
The session also featured insights from the Office of the Special Prosecution (OSP) on the importance of accurate reporting and the legal nuances of corruption in Ghana.
Sammy Appiah Darko, Director of the Strategy, Research & Communication Division, clarified the OSP’s focus on investigating acts of corruption as defined by Ghanaian law, stressing the need for thorough investigations before public disclosures.
Kwaku Krobea Asante, Programme Officer of the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), concluded the session by emphasizing the importance of the Right to Information (RTI) Law.
Krobea Asante encouraged journalists to leverage this law to uncover critical information on political financing’s opaque corners, underscoring the media’s crucial role in fostering a transparent electoral process for the 2024 elections.
“The RTI Law is a potent tool for journalists, enabling them to access vital information and significantly enhance the quality and depth of their reporting,” Asante stated, highlighting the law’s capacity to ensure accountability and transparency in Ghana’s political landscape.