Excerpts from Youth Bridge Foundation, Ghana Anticorruption Coalition public lecture on Demystifying Corruption

The Youth Bridge Foundation in collaboration with the Ghana Anticorruption Coalition held a public lecture dubbed “Demystifying Corruption” on 18th February, 2020.

The public lecture sought to

  • address the growing menace of corruption in Ghana across industries, government and public institutions.
  • debunk the complex web of innuendos, misconceptions and assumptions around corruption
  • explore the nature of corruption in Ghana, its players and a call for collaborative elimination

The lecture which was given by Professor Christopher Yenkey, Assistant Professor in the Sonoco International Business Department at the University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business stressed on three major areas;

  1. Do social relations and tight-knit social groups help or hurt the fight against corruption?

Research in criminology clearly reveals the dark side to close knit social groups and strong community. There is always less reporting of victimization in socially homogeneous locations, a situation which emboldens corruption in the system. Small close groups usually prioritize the interest of the group over that of the individual members putting the individual at risk of victimization whilst the group remains stronger and protective. Socially, knit groupings are not a bad thing however there should be a peer review mechanism amongst members to deter them from indulging in corruption.

  • Is corruption a moral or a strategic issue?

For many, it is immoral when other people commit acts of corruption, and we tend to see it as strategic when we do it ourselves. Is it immoral for the police to solicit bribes? Most of us would say yes. Is it immoral for us to pay a bribe to the police? Most of us would say no. The officer is immoral for soliciting, but we are strategic for paying. This tendency to explain others behavior as immoral but our own behavior as strategic creates a situation where corruption will always persist, because of the higher probability that the people involved in the transaction will see it as strategic to engage in the corrupt transaction. For all bribes, someone pays and someone else gets paid. That is just another way to say that there is a buyer and a seller. And if we know anything from hundreds of years of economic development in every corner of the globe, it is this: where there’s a willing buyer, there will always be a willing seller. I strongly disagree with seeing corruption as one-sided. There is no such thing as one-sided corruption. There are always two sides to the transaction.

  • What can we do to disrupt the normalization of corruption?

Data from Transparency International show that the corruption levels in all countries do not change much over time. According to Ash forth and Anand (2003), corruption becomes normalized as a result of institutionalization, rationalization and even more importantly, socialization where newcomers come to accept a deviant process as normal in this case, the youth. Our focus to curbing this menace is by conditioning the youth to frown upon the act. When you arrive at the airport, you have to show proof of your yellow fever vaccination. For medical problems, we do research and develop medical vaccines. Corruption is a social problem, and we need a systematic social research to help develop a social vaccine.

This social vaccine will come from the bottom up and in Ghana, that largely falls on the YOUTH.

The lecture was chaired by the Executive Director of Ghana Integrity Initiative, Mrs. Linda Ofori Kwafo. Other key personalities present were members from development agencies, Civil Society Organisations and students from various Universities in Ghana as well as the media.