Samson’s Take: Corruption and side-chicks law

Today, two issues get my attention. I have reason to believe citizens may not be as interested in fighting corruption regardless of the noise we make denouncing it in the media. I observe also that people who love side-chicks may not want them at their funeral.

I shared on my social media handle an advertisement by the Office of Special Prosecutor sharing its contact details including a toll-free line for people to report corruption. The OSP said: “If we stand for nothing, we pay for everything. Our future is not for sale. Let’s report corruption.” Whatever peoples’ frustration and mistrust, I did not expect only less than 1% of those commenting to commend the move. People were pessimistic, suspicious and would have nothing to do with this with some pointing to media reports of corruption as sufficient fodder for the OSP.

Why are people not ready to give the OSP the benefit of the doubt and simply do their part by reporting acts of corruption so they may get some factual basis for criticizing the OSP especially if genuine reports do not yield good results? I think myself a campaigner having done a lot of anti-corruption education. And I know that only a handful have used the 2006 whistleblowers law. I have spoken about its defects but campaigned for aggressive public education to get people to use it and for the fund, it commands to be set up so people can enjoy the 10% reward on what they blow the whistle on, and state protection if their cover is blown and against all forms of victimisation they may suffer at the workplace.

Passage of the witness protection law was the icing on the cake yet people who know are not using these legal tools to help fight corruption. Report, or call 0800-000-700 which becomes operational soon. Yes, politicians often pretend to fight corruption and prefer we don’t talk about it. But the state is doing its article 35(8) duty in taking “steps to eradicate corruption and abuse of power”. Just play your part as the constitution commands in article 41 to be your duty as a citizen.

Many have been excited that the proposed intestate succession law (bill) maintains the existing position denying “baby mamas” or a woman who has a child with a man without being married to him, any benefit from his property if the man dies without making a will. We easily forget that it is not all such women who are bad people or desire such a situation. Truth is, many in such a situation are deceived or forced to live with a man without a marriage to seal the relationship.

Gender advocates – groups and individual powerhouses like Sheila Minka-Premo have tried without success especially through the spousal property bill, for Ghana to recognize cohabitation so such women do not continue to be disadvantaged and cheated. She and her team managed to get women a great deal in the new land law which affirms that property acquired during a marriage is presumed to be jointly owned by husband and wife unless a contrary intention is expressed in writing.

The law prohibits a man from disposing of such property without the written consent of the wife and vice versa. Sheila explained on The Law show Sunday afternoon the need to examine the current law where it is only the child born in such a relationship that benefits as a legitimate child of the deceased. The best way to avoid the state having to distribute your property when you die is to make a will. Please make a will. A most exciting aspect of the new law to replace the 36-year old is that a wife is entitled to her constitutional 50% of joint property (which must not be included in the estate of the deceased to be distributed upon grant of Letters of Administration) and what is due her from the man’s share.

An estranged spouse (separated but not divorced) is also entitled to not less than 30% of the property. I love the proposed improved sanctions of a fine of up to ¢24,000, compensation and a two to four years jail term for families and individuals who are quick to throw out or eject a spouse (especially widows or and their children). In fact, any form of interference or meddling with the property attracts this punishment. I join advocates like Sheila to urge Government to give attention to this 2018 bill and re-introduce it since, like on three previous occasions, it elapsed with the dissolution of the last Parliament.

I almost forgot to add that our chauvinistic society of fewer men, more women has a male-dominated Parliament that has consistently jettisoned the Spousal Property Bill despite Article 22(1) of the Constitution’s that “[a] spouse shall not be deprived of a reasonable provision out of the estate of a spouse whether or not the spouse died having made a will.”

And despite the directive in clause (2) that “Parliament shall, as soon as practicable after the coming into force of this Constitution, enact legislation regulating the property rights of spouses.” Is this thing, we find normal in our society against women who want marriage but are denied despite living with a man, bearing children and caring for the home, not corruption against women?

This is your legal light. That’s my take.

Samson Lardy ANYENINI
September 25, 2021 Issue #32

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DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.