Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, former Chairman of the Electoral Commission (EC), has blamed the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) for lack of commitment towards the establishment of Political Parties’ Fund.
Speaking at the ongoing 70th Annual New School and Conference at the University of Ghana, Dr Afari-Gyan said the nation’s two main political parties, whenever either of them was in opposition, supports the idea of establishing Political Parties Fund, however, whenever either of them was in Government, opposes it.
The four-day programme on the theme: “Building Strong Institutions for Democratic Consolidation in Ghana,” is being organised by the School of Continuing and Distance Education of the College of Education, University of Ghana, in collaboration with the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development.
Dr Afari-Gyan said like the issue of voting by Ghanaians living abroad, the quest for a standing fund to support the activities of political parties started a long time ago during the time of the first NDC Government (1993-2000); declaring that the NPP, then in opposition, was fully in favour of the establishment of such a fund.
He recounted that at that time, after elaborate discussions on the issue at Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) Meetings, the EC sent a request to the government to consider establishing the fund.
He said the then Government’s (NDC first government) reply was that the fund was a good idea, but the time was not ripe.
Dr Afari-Gyan noted that however, the Commission and the parties continued their deliberations on the fund, and by the time the NPP first came to power (2001 -2008), a detailed document, signed by key representatives of all the parties, had been produced.
He said the document was sent to then NPP-led Government along with a request to establish the fund; declaring that “as we all know, up till today no fund to support the activities of the political parties has been established”.
“The situation here is an interesting one: when a party is in government, it does not want public funding: when it is in opposition, it wants it,” he said.
“To put it cruelly, one wonders whether it is a situation of needs and wants. Be that as it may, the situation clearly shows that our two leading political parties lack a principled stand on the issue of a public fund for political parties.”
He said however, there was need for such a fund, because without public support it might be impossible to get the nation’s political parties to do any decent accounting of their finances.
Speaking on the topic “Improving the Electoral Process for Democratic Consolidation”, Dr Afari-Gyan said every Ghanaian who was knowledgeable about the electoral process could contribute to its improvement.
He said improving the electoral process involves making small changes consistent with the existing laws and making reforms by amendments or new laws where appropriate.
It would also be recalled that on Monday, Professor Ransford Gyampo, Director, Centre for European Studies, University of Ghana, in his submission at the ongoing 70th Annual New School and Conference, also renewed the debate on state funding of political parties, calling for some form of public funding.
Speaking on the topic “Beyond Election Machines: Building Stronger Political Parties for Democratic Consolidation”; Prof Gyampo said political parties appreciated public funding only when they were in opposition.
“The idea is generally nauseating and annoying to many Ghanaians because of the hardships and corruption of many politicians. But weak and poorly funded political parties would only attract weak and mediocre personnel who may lack what it takes to pursue proactive developmental agenda that tackle the challenges of the people.”
Prof Gyampo said the cost of funding political parties as a way of contributing to their strengthening would arguably be cheaper than the hardships inflicted on Ghanaians by mediocre party personnel who later become leaders of the nation and sometimes had no clue about what to do to solve the problems.
He said strong political parties would produce good and right calibre of leaders who would tackle the quagmires of poverty and under-development confronting Ghanaians.