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Ghana parliament in bribery scandal?

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News hitting Ghanaians this morning, Monday July 6, 2009, says the country’s Parliament was bribed into endorsing the sale of the national telecoms operator Ghana Telecom (GT) to Vodafone Plc.

The Enquirer newspaper reported that the Member of Parliament for Asikuma-Odoben-Brakwa has told the committee investigating the sale of GT to Vodafone that Parliamentarians were bribed to endorse the sale agreement.

According to the report, MPs were given $5000 each to vote in favour of the deal. He says however, that he was not given some of the money.

Mr. Appiah-Ofori said Mr. Doe Ajaho who was then in opposition, is privy to the issue, but he is yet to speak on the matter. He also mentioned Nana Yaw Ofori-Kuragu, MP for Bosome-Freho as one of the MPs who knows about the matter.

He confirmed the allegation on Joy FM Monday July 6, 2009. But Minority Leader, Osei Kyei Bonsu denied knowledge of the matter when the radio station called him for his remarks.

Mr. Appiah-Ofori indicated that he had written to the former Chief of Staff, Mr. Kwadwo Mpiani complaining about the act, and the Chief of Staff advised him to withdraw the matter, because it should not be allowed to reach the public, or else “it is not good for the government.”

In his responses to Joy FM, however, the former Chief of Staff denied there was any such bribery and he confirmed advising Mr. Appiah-Ofori to withdraw the said letter pointing out the incident of the bribery and he did.

It is yet to be seen, if indeed, this is true, because so many questions dogged the sale of GT to Vodafone Plc.  Parliament approved the sale of GT in August 2008 despite stiff opposition from the opposition and some pressure groups as well as think tanks.

Ghana’s Parliament is also dogged by another questionable sale of the Volta Aluminium Company (VALCO) in November 2008. Parliament ratified the sale of 70% shares of the country’s only aluminium smelter to two companies, Norsk Hydro of Norway and Vale of Brazil. But hours after the sale agreement was announced mentioning these two companies as the consortium which has bought VALCO, officials of the two companies came out to deny buying VALCO.

Up until now, it is not clear if indeed VALCO has been sold and to who? There has not been mention of the deal in the current Parliament, despite public statements by groups like the Third World Network.

These developments obviously are not giving the Ghanaian people a very good picture of their Parliament. It is yet to be seen if these allegations are indeed true or not, because as matters stand now, it is allegations, counter-allegations and denials.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

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