There is a little story we tell to amuse ourselves in Ghana; of a man known as Alfred Agbesi Woyome, and how he took Ghc 51m ($13.5- it was a lot more but depreciation) illegally from the state, and how all he had to do upon being caught red handed was refund it.
It’s not really an amusing story, but we tell it in an amusing way because that is how apathetic we have become to the possibility of anyone ever being made to pay for defrauding the good people of Ghana.
Luckily for the people of Vanuatu, they do not have to deal with unpunished corruption for as long as we have to. Because jail sentences have been handed down to fourteen members of Parliament in the Pacific Island nation of Vanuatu.
More remarkable in my opinion, given the reality of the politics of my homeland, all fourteen come from the governing party’s tally in parliament.
This has necessitated the need for new elections. The BBC reports thus:
“Fourteen politicians in the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu have been handed jail sentences for corruption.
The members of parliament were convicted of bribery on 9 October, when President Baldwin Lonsdale was abroad.
The verdict puts half the governing party’s MPs behind bars and makes it likely another election will be called, despite the current administration only taking power in June.”
As humans are wont to do, the speaker of parliament, who is one of those convicted; used his powers as acting president to pardon himself and the others. That was during a trip outside the country by the President himself, who overturned the pardons the moment he got back into the country.
And now the country’s Supreme Court has upheld the president’s decision; ruling the pardons unconstitutional. The cojones on that speaker…
“The original corruption allegations were that Deputy Prime Minister Moana Carcasses paid 13 opposition politicians 35 million vatu ($312,000; £202,000) last year.
On Thursday, Mr Carcasses was sentenced to four years in prison, and the others for three years each.
Justice Mary Sey, in the capital, Port Vila, said the payments were made to influence the MPs.
Those who “occupy a position of trust or authority can expect to be treated severely by the criminal law,” she said
As well as the deputy prime minister, many of the other convicted MPs were also cabinet ministers, including the Foreign Minister Serge Vohor and Finance Minister Willy Jimmy.”
This is what justice smells like, what should happen when public officials abuse their mandate and use it for the sole purpose of enriching themselves.
Unfortunately, it remains nothing but a pipe dream for us down here.