The story adjudged the best anti-corruption report at the 2018 edition of the West Africa Media Excellence Conference Awards (WAMECA) has resulted in the cancellation of questionable waste bins procurement contracts worth $74 million (GHs 362 million) by the government of Ghana.
The story titled "Robbing the Assemblies" by Manasseh Azure Awuni of Ghana's Multimedia Group is the result of nearly one year of comprehensive, painstaking investigations across 53 Metropolitan, Municipal, District Assemblies (MMDAs) in all the ten regions of Ghana. The story exposed massive malfeasance in the sanitation contracts between the government of Ghana and the country's biggest waste management company leading to the cancellation of the contract.
The cancellation followed the recommendations of a cabinet committee set up in 2017 to review the contract after Manasseh's story and subsequent police investigations. In line with the cabinet committee recommendation, the Local Government Ministry in a recent letter addressed to the sanitation company, ordered the abrogation of the contract citing non-performance.
The government of Ghana through the Local Government Ministry had entered into a contract with five different sanitation companies all belonging to Jospong Group of Companies through sole sourcing. The company was to procure 1 million waste bins and bin liners.
Manasseh Azure Awuni's report revealed instances of inflated costs in the contract, lack of due diligence on the part of government officials and an apparent deliberate attempt by the parties in the contract to misuse state funds.
The outcome of the "Robbing the Assemblies" report, which won the best anti-corruption report at WAMECA 2018, exemplifies the role of the media in promoting transparency and accountability in the management of public resources. It also demonstrates the change that impact-led journalism can make in society.
The West Africa Media Excellence Awards is an initiative of the MFWA to promote media excellence in the sub region. The Awards honour journalists in West Africa who have produced compelling works which are impacting lives positively in society. The 2019 edition of the West Africa Media Excellence Awards is scheduled for October 20.