Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

What The Papers Say

Free Press, Ghana, June 21, 1985

Lessons from the Bank Frauds

The wave of bank thefts and the resultant execution of some of the culprits recently have in several ways dramatised the endemic and epidemic nature of fraud and corruption in Ghana.

Consequently the death penalty passed against some of the bank robbers was taken with the belief that the threat of death will frighten other criminals and potential criminals to desist from their dastardly acts against the nation.

The death penalty has never exorcised criminal tendencies from human beings, leaving us with the challenge of finding out fundamental solutions rather than cosmetic answers. In this regard one can appreciate the various measures that the nation's banking institutions have announced to prevent the re-occurrence of fraud and theft.

The time has surely come for all public institutions to also sit up and evolve counter-measures that will mitigate any form of crime in Ghanaian society.

But as a framework for evolving particular solutions and measures by the various institutions, we need to examine critically the genesis of the problems.


What has happened in the last few years that has embodied otherwise innocent Ghanaians to take to the highways of crime? We notice an apparent break-down in society's responsibility to the individual, leaving individuals with no choice but to survive by all means possible, unfortunately often by very foul means.

In several instances, governments in the last decade have abdicated their basic obligation to see to the provision of reasonable shelter, education, medical care and other facilities for Ghanaians.

Having lost faith in the government's ability to fulfil these obligations individuals are forced to rely on their own ingenuity and capabilities to survive.

What does the average Ghanaian worker have to rely on? Whilst statistical projections from government and loudly- trumpeted declarations from diplomats point to a prospering national economy, the very lives of the people indicate a declining purchasing power.

Added to this harsh economic reality is the loss of all-time values like honesty, discipline and hardwork. Caught in this vicious cycle corruption in all places, high and low, has become the most lucrative and reliable cushion for survival.

Against such a background concepts like accountability and morality have been thrown to the dogs.

The fraud wave that recently blew over the banks is indeed blowing all over the nation and in seeking to stem the tide, it is hoped we shall not be satisfied with instant and dramatic solutions but profound answers that will recognise the genesis of the problem.

National Concord, Nigeria, June 26, 1985

Calling South Africa's bluff

Last week, under cover of darkness, South African commandos attacked Gaborone, capital of neighbouring Botswana. In the raid, 16 persons, one of them a six-year-old girl, were killed. A South African spokesman claimed that the attack had been directed against the "nerve center" of the African National Congress. Prior to this, Angolan authorities had on May 21 apprehended a South African patrol in Cabinda, northern Angola. The patrol was on a mission to sabotage an Angolan refinery. To compound issues further on defiance of all international outcry, South Africa has gone ahead to install a puppet self-governing regime in Namibia.

After a relative period of lull during which it appeared that the renewed anti-apartheid activities in the Western world was giving the illegal regime in Pretoria something to seriously think about, the latest offensive by South Africa demonstrates that violence is the only language the thick- headed Pretorian racists understand. This is why no matter the amount of resolutions either the US Congress or the legislative bodies of any Western nation at that, passes, South Africa will not be swayed from its obnoxious policies in southern Africa.

Whilst we sympathise with the front-line states which now have to bear the brunt of South Africa's aggression, shouldn't their plight cause African states to re-examine their strategy toward South Africa? It is obvious that mere platitudes or resolutions at the UN or OAU are not going to take us anywhere. The reality has got to be faced; force has to be countered by force. No one is saying that the battle of the black South Africans be fought for them, but they certainly require a lot more than mere moral support. It has now become obvious that the security of the front- line states holds the key to the liberation of South Africa. If it is possible to keep South Africa away from the front-line states, freedom fighters can squarely neutralise the so-called might of apartheid forces.

The time has come for African nations’ strategy in Southern Africa to be one of giving military assistance to the front-line states. This can take the form of providing them with arms, training their soldiers, as well as strengthening numerical strength to serve as a deterrent force. The presence of Cuban troops in Angola has certainly played no small role in limiting South African adventures there. If the Cubans could come and offer assistance from over tens of thousands of miles, is there any justifiable excuse why African states, the black South Africans' kith and kin, cannot?

The time has come for Nigeria as a leading force in Africa to champion the cause of this new thrust in the liberation struggle of South Africa. Fortunately, the man at the helm of affairs in the international campaign against apartheid, our Rtd Major-General Joseph Garba has had a distinguished military career and so should be able to envisage the problems and prospects of such a strategy.

The time has come when we in Africa must no longer continue to listen to the pet suggestions and theories as to how best to solve the problem of South Africa. Things have reached such a head that we have just got to take the bull by the horns.

talking drums 1985-07-08 nigeria's security boss writes - we reply