Every four years, Ghanaians go to the polls to elect a President and Members of Parliament (MPs), to govern the country. By operation of our multi-party electoral democracy, we are presented with several choices and we have elected leaders based on varying reasons.
All things being equal, we shall vote again on December 7, 2020. But do we really know why we are voting and what our votes mean to us individually and collectively as citizens of Ghana? How do our votes impact the real economic growth and development as well as the opportunity to prosper for all Ghanaians who apply themselves, instead of the few political elite, their families, and friends? In the next few weeks, I shall show how and why we must change our voting patterns to change the governance system, to change Ghana’s destiny for the best, beginning with my “What Ghana must vote for” series.
For close to 30 years, long enough to transform any resourceful nation from developing to developed, third world to first or poor to rich, like South Korea, which attained independence about the same time as Ghana, and with similar economic indicators has done, we have missed the economic transformation dividend of our democracy because the basic law that governs it, the 1992 constitution is just not fit for purpose.
In this fourth republic, only political parties have won elections to form government(s). But the successive administrations so far produced by the two major political parties, National Democratic Congress (NDC) and New Patriotic Party (NPP) that have governed the country since 1993, have made endless promises they know they can never keep.
Instead of reforming the system through the relevant constitutional amendments to lay the solid foundation required for good economic policies to be executed to guarantee the basic needs of the electorate, the NDC and NPP have rather settled for all manner of vote buying schemes at intra and inter-party elections to compensate for their lack of delivery to secure re-elections.
In nations where the electorate have not on their own mustered the courage to change such voting systems, bad governance has prevailed. Institutions that must preserve democracy get compromised and corrupted. Winning elections become a function of ability to manipulate or buy votes, winner takes all, make or break and “all die be die”, just for the ruling elite to continue to feed fat on state resources while majority of the people remain emasculated and poor.
When leadership of the NDC and NPP in parliament, speaking on the floor of the house, confessed to vote buying by MP aspirants and candidates, charging that it was the cause of corruption in Ghana, they only voiced an open secret. After the confessions however, they walked away scot-free, most likely to go and repeat same to remain in power.
There is no room for such hypocrisy anymore. Ghana is a certified “moneyocracy”, the major characteristic of a failed state, where votes are bought to win elections and the elected office used to loot state resources to win more elections and hold on to power until an uprising or military intervention kicks in.
We can no longer afford to have it twisted. Ghana’s democracy is thoroughly bankrupt. Changing the persons in charge as we have done in several elections, without changing the system would lead to more disappointments, more corruption, more destitution, more neglect and more of bad governance as we have observed for three decades. There is danger in delaying the reforms.
For the real change we need, to pave way for good and accountable governance, to restore a functional democracy and attain economic freedom, voters in election 2020 should for the first time listen to all the candidates carefully. And with the understanding of where we are and where we must be going, vote for comprehensive reformist candidate(s). Where reformist means a party in government that would amend the constitution to:
i. Have Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) elected. It is a tragedy that the ruling NPP in 2019 reneged on its 2016 election promise to have MMDCEs elected. That act of betrayal alone is estimated to cost Ghana about one decade of economic progress.
ii. Disallow members of parliament to double as ministers of state. The constitutional provision to have majority of ministers appointed from parliament breeds executive corruption, arrogance, and impunity as it weakens parliament in its oversight role in relation to the executive.
iii. Have an Independent Prosecutor appointed by a reformed and strengthened Public Services Commission (PSC), and who must be independent of the executive’s Minister of Justice.
iv. Have Chairpersons and senior officers of the Electoral Commission (EC), appointed by a reformed PSC, to avoid the constant bastardisation of the election management body by opposition elements who suspect EC’s neutrality would be compromised by virtue of the executive appointing them.
v. Have the Inspector General of Police (IGP) appointed by a reformed and strengthened PSC. For the police to enforce the law without fear or favour, the IGP, must be appointed by a body independent of the executive.
These reforms are so fundamental to the sustenance of Ghana’s democracy and opportunities for economic transformation that, we delay our nation’s development by maintaining the status quo. Any candidate, presidential or parliamentary who does subscribe to and commit to these reforms, is unfit for elective office at this time in our nation’s desperate search for rapid economic transformation and development which can only happen within the framework of good governance.
Anyone who wants to be elected to public office, who does not know that the 1992 constitution is the chief enabler of excessive abuse of executive power, parliament’s extra-ordinary weakness in checking executive excesses and the unprecedented corruption in government, is either ignorant of the business of good governance and nation building or simply wants to maintain the status quo, to benefit from its systemic fraud.
William Kofi Dowokpor
1st National Vice-Chairman
Progressive People’s Party, Ghana