Majority of Ghanaians want stiffer punishment for corrupt public officials, including jail time, restitution of stolen funds, and public shaming, according to a new Afrobarometer survey.
Findings show widespread popular perceptions of corruption in both government and private-sector leadership, with the police and judges most widely seen as corrupt.
But public approval of the government’s efforts to combat corruption has increased dramatically since 2014, after more than a decade of decline.
“These findings provide solid backing for government and reformers seeking to strengthen laws and their enforcement in the fight against corruption,” the report said.
The findings are being released a few weeks after the passing of the Special Prosecutor’s Bill, which is expected to help government effectively crack the whip of justice against corrupt public officers, political office holders, and accomplices.
Almost two-thirds (64%) of Ghanaians want corrupt officials prosecuted and, if found guilty, forced to return stolen funds, jailed, and publicly named and shamed. About one-fifth (22%) favour government retrieval of stolen funds without prosecution, while one in 10 (9%) would opt for prosecution without retrieval of stolen funds.
Six in 10 Ghanaians (59%) say “most” or “all” police officials are corrupt, and substantial proportions say the same about judges and magistrates (38%), national government officials (35%), and other public leaders. Perceptions of corruption in the private sector are somewhat lower.
The proportion of Ghanaians who think the government has performed “very well” or “fairly well” in fighting corruption more than doubled between 2014 and 2017, from 25% to 60%. After more than a decade of declining approval ratings, this puts popular approval near the 2002 high of 63%.
Support for anti-Galamsey fight
The report revealed that more Ghanaians support the government’s efforts to clamp down on illegal mining, popularly known as galamsey.
The survey also shows that Ghanaians overwhelmingly favour the government’s proposed initiatives to develop alternative livelihoods for those affected by the clampdown.
Rejection of ‘galamsey’ and approval of the government’s handling of the fight against are particularly strong among better-educated Ghanaians and among residents of the Central, Brong Ahafo and Ashanti Regions. Opposition to small scale mining is weakest in the Upper East, Northern and Upper West Region.
“Public opinion fortifies the government’s assertive new fight against ‘galamsey’ and its devastating effects on the country’s water bodies, farmlands and livelihoods.”
Afrobarometer is a pan-African, non-partisan research network that conducts public attitude surveys on democracy, governance, economic conditions, and related issues in more than 35 countries in Africa.