Professor Ransford Gyampo, Director, Centre for European Studies, University of Ghana, has renewed the debate on state funding of political parties, calling for some form of public funding.
Speaking at the on-going 70th Annual New Year School and Conference (ANYSC) at the University of Ghana, Prof Gyampo suggested some type of public funding for political parties to be able to carry out their activities particularly during peak season.
He cited Germany, Ireland, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and some countries in post-communist Eastern Europe where some form of public funding of political parties was practised.
He said in Africa, countries like Lesotho, Mali, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Botswana had some arrangements for the state to fund political parties; adding that in Botswana, for instance, Parliament adopted a motion to fund political parties in 2013.
The 70th ANYSC, 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.
Prof Gyampo said in Ghana, the idea of public funding already existed and was being practised through the allocation of vehicles and airtime to parties in the lead up to elections.
“It must be enhanced to deal with corruption after election and the hijacking of political parties by financiers,” he said.
He noted that the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) Draft Bill submitted in 2010 must be revisited; declaring that “it has stringent requirement that cannot encourage the proliferation of election machines”.
“With funding, parties can attract and recruit graduates and the right calibre of people who have the capacity to run activities and formulate implementable manifestoes, policies and programmes for development.”
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 their 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.
“Weak ones can only attract some of the calibre of people we have today and we are a living testimony of the near abysmal modus in which they continue to handle the salient bread and butter issues confronting the poor in a manner that threatens to relapse our drive towards democratic consolidation,” Prof Gyampo said.