Today the Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Dr Ibrahim Mohammed Awal is reported to have said, “businesses operating within Ghana’s tourism sector has lost a revenue of GH¢8 billion to the pandemic with a resultant job loss estimated at 75 percent.” While the job loss is regrettable, if the truth be told, and if we listen enough to business people who have suffered loss, not only the tourism sector but also other businesses may have lost as much revenue to internal THEFT within the same period.
Have you heard some business people say ‘I will rather employ foreigners from other parts of the world than my fellow country man or woman’? And who has not heard the complaint that ‘foreigners’ are taking over businesses and other enterprises? A related pressing question is ‘why do businesses and enterprises increasingly prefer to hire ‘foreigners’ rather than local persons.’ This is not to say such foreigners do not cut corners. Far from it. Even then, how do those who cut corners or contravene laws for profit do so without local connivers for profit? One may also ask, ‘how do illegal ‘foreigners’ gain entry to establish competing industries without complying locals? Can anyone see the crises we are in? If business people increasingly cannot or will not trust nationals who are profusely religious, but rather hire or entrust their enterprise to other people, even of no faith at all, can we see the crisis we are in?
Who among us has not been cheated by a carpenter or mechanic with scripture texts emblazed on the walls of their workshop? Who among us has run a poultry and has not had the animals pilfered alive or dead by workers who watch over them? And who is building a house or business facility without the nightmare of workers seemingly committed to one agenda: to maximize every opportunity to steal and to rob, especially anytime the owner turns his or her back? Who has not spent time searching for honest diligent plumbers, masons, or bookkeepers?
These are real issues with us that boil down to a major leakage. Two words sum up the source of the leakage: dishonesty and theft. Let us stop dressing it up by calling it corruption! That is often such a big word meant to cover up and confuse us about the two basic words: Dishonesty and Theft.
The failure to call it by name and to address it as such has been the downfall of many businesses. It does not matter how many hours staff and workers spend in morning devotions. Nor does it matter what religious title anyone bears at the workplace. Let us get one thing clear from the start. The workplace is not meant to be church. Hours devoted to ‘praise and worship’ at the workplace can in fact be theft of working hours and its length or volume does not necessarily address the deceitfulness of the human heart that is so prone to dishonesty and theft. Not that prayer should be scrapped from business contexts. However, an important question Christians must ask and seek answers to is: why is there massive corruption even in contexts of significant Church growth and Christian population? How many of us have not heard things like, ‘I thought Christians don’t steal’, ‘I thought those who go to church don’t cheat clients’, or struggled with the paradox in hearing people say, ‘I will rather hire an honest person than a christian’?
This calls for a certain level of ruthlessness with us, regardless of what we profess or what title we bear. Any business that will succeed or come close to serve God’s intended purpose in building any nation will not do so by replicating church in the workplace but by being honest in laying the necessary foundation to eradicate dishonesty and theft. With few exceptions, the ‘foreigners’ you prefer to entrust your business to may in fact only have a delayed master strategy to ultimately take over all that matters to you.