Political Corruption: The Ghana Case

By Victor T. Le Vine | Go to book overview

-- 6 --
Ghanaian Political Corruption in Perspective

Throughout this study, an attempt has been made to lend perspective to Ghanaian political corruption by alluding to similar circumstances in other countries. It may now be useful to review some of these observations and in addition to emphasize some of the differences between political corruption in Ghana and political corruption elsewhere, particularly in the industrialized states of Europe and North America. The two major themes of Chapter 5 -- the consequences and causes of political corruption -- seem particularly useful points of reference for this purpose, and they are the focus of this discussion.

The extent and ramifications of political corruption in the United States and various European countries are sufficiently well known to need little additional comment here, and in large measure our analysis of the corruption process applies as readily to them as to Ghana and to other polities in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The use of large campaign contributions as a means of obligating candidates to donors or to special interests has long been an unfortunate feature of political life in the United States, and various kinds of electoral frauds -- from ballot stuffing to vote-buying -- have regularly been practiced on both sides of the Atlantic. The Aranda revelations in France during 1972, the German political scandals of 1973, and the extraordinary greed displayed by a series of military and civilian governments in Indochina over the past twenty years (for example), serve as reminders of the persistence and worldwide incidence of the phenomenon.* But there is an important difference between political

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*
I do not here include the sexual exploits of Messrs. Profumo, Lambton, and Jellicoe and their attendant political embarrassment to the British government, mainly because the exchange of official favors between these ministers and the call girls involved only the diversion of what could at best be termed marginal public resources. Nor do I include instances of what was earlier called "corruption of the political process," though both kinds of activity, particularly the latter, can have as deleterious effect on the polity as the worst political corruption. Moreover, as was noted earlier, it is clear that "corruption of the political process" may well lead to political corruption, and vice versa. The 1970s Watergate affair in the United States is certainly testimony to this relationship.

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