A Ghanaian minister resigned over the weekend after a probe into how her houseworkers allegedly stole more than $1 million in cash from her home last year.
Sanitation Minister Cecilia Abena Dapaah denied any crimes, but the case drew criticism from Ghana’s opposition who questioned why a minister would have such large amounts of cash in her house.
In her statement on Saturday, Dapaah handed in her resignation to not be a “hindrance” to government, but rejected reports of such large amounts of cash at the family home.
According to court documents in the trial, the two domestic workers face charges of stealing $1 million, 300,000 euros and millions of local Ghanaian cedis from the bedroom last year as well as clothing.
“Whereas I can state emphatically that those figures do not represent correctly what my husband and I reported to the police, I am very much aware of the import of such stories around someone in my position,” the minister said.
“I am resigning therefore because I do not want this matter to become a preoccupation of government and a hindrance to the work of government.”
The furore comes as the government of President Nana Akufo-Addo deals with the country’s worst economic crisis in years that has pushed Ghana to seek a $3 billion loan from the IMF.
Akufo-Addo’s ruling NPP party is preparing for primaries later this year to chose its candidate to run in next year’s election.
Akufo-Addo accepted the resignation and applauded the former minister for her loyalty and “devotion”, his spokesman said.
But former Ghana leader John Dramani Mahama, who is the opposition NDC candidate for the 2024 election, described the incident as “scandalous”.
“$1m + €300k and millions of GHS in a Ghanaian Minister’s home? Scandalous!! Even if genuinely acquired, why keep millions of hard currency at home?” he wrote on his Twitter account.
“Will Akufo-Addo ever set a good example for public office holders in his administration?”
A good governance advocate Baffour Agyeman-Duah called on the ombudsman to probe the case.
“A lot is going through people’s minds,” he told AFP. “It involves a high-ranking public official so the Office of the Special Prosecutor must take it up just to clear any doubts.”