Tuesday, 9 October 2012

The Art of Paying Bribe

If you’ve lived in Ghana for a while, chances are that you’ve had to pay bribe at one point to get something done. Bribes are an unavoidable part of the Ghanaian society. Without them, nothing moves. One popular Ghanaian politician said corruption can not be totally eradicated from society.

There are certain etiquette one has to observe in paying bribes. No self respecting Ghanaian will accept bribes “just like that”. The giver needs to learn the right way to give it. I’ve attempted to document the rules that govern the giving of bribes.

The giving of bribe inspires some of the most beautiful parables and proverbs you can find around. For example when giving a bribe, you don’t say, “Please take this Gh¢300 as bribe”. That’s just unacceptable. You have to say, “Please take this Gh¢300 to buy some pure water”. Never mind that pure water cost a mere 10p. This way the receiver can take the bribe with a clear conscience.

You also need to be wise enough to understand when someone is asking for bribe. Some time ago I had to get a Security clearance from the Police. I was told that it took two weeks for the report to be done or 3days for express. I paid for express and returned on the forth day. When I got there the report had not yet been done. According to the officer, there were so many papers on his table and his Binatone Standing fan kept blowing them away. He said he wanted a stone to put on my application so that mine didn’t get blown away. So I got him an expensive stone and right in front of me he filled the form and I was on my way.

You shall under no circumstance give bribe in a brown envelope. Brown envelopes in Ghana are synonymous with bribes so at all cost, avoid them. You can put the money in a white envelope or present it unwrapped. Bribes may not be presented as cheque or money order. If it has to be money, it should always be cold hard cash.

It is not bribe if it is not money. You may present your bribe in the form of hampers especially during festivities. Hampers have become a part of the Ghanaian society. You can even present a hamper in public without anyone frowning on it.

At the beginning of the High School academic year it is normal to see parents visiting the residence of headmasters with fattened goats. These goats are the means by which student who didn’t qualify ride into various schools. No one can accuse the headmaster of taking bribe; all he took was a goat.
You may also present what ever money or gift you have to the person’s children. For example you can offer to pay his kids school fees for one term or buy a very expensive gift for his kids on their birthday or Christmas. No one can say that is a bribe, obviously the kids are not the same as their parents.

If for any reason someone is bold enough to ask you directly for bribe, you are not allowed to bargain. Just pay up.
Always remember, if you don’t pay it won’t get done. Just accept that and don’t give anyone a lecture on morality or patriotism.