General News of Thursday, 31 July 2014
The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), has made raft of proposals for implementation, chiefly power sharing system of government, to eliminate recurrent second round-offs, typifying Ghana’s presidential elections.
The Institute, a policy think tank, argued that the present system of the ‘Winner-Takes-All’ pattern in Ghana’s politics, encouraged victimization, sabotage and exclusion of opponents and competent persons from contributing to the national development agenda.
Mr Justice Francis Emile Short, member of IEA’s ‘Winner-Takes-All’ Advisory Committee, warned at the climax of the Committee’s nationwide consultation on Tuesday that politics of inclusion was key to national development.
According to him, the practice of political exclusion, posed serious threat to Ghana’s fledgling democracy.
Mr Justice Short said: “Our elections are so tensed and divisive, while the executive is vested with so many powers, and applies to capture state resources and use it to exclude opponents.”
He noted that the current constitutional requirement for appointing public officers in consultation with the Council of State remained “ineffective way of getting competent people,” and weakened state institutions.
The formula, he said is applied to compensate party loyalists, and antagonize political opponents, leading to “brain drain, marginalization and feeling of exclusion.”
Mr Justice Short noted that practical interventions were required to mitigate the manifestation of negative political culture and attitude “fuelling rancour, acrimony, sabotage of state agenda, do or die malady and political autocracy.”
The IEA has proposed the formation of coalition of a power-sharing government and upping the current constituencies of 275 to ceil at 400.
Mr Justice Short said the additional 125 constituencies to be created, if the proposal is endorsed, should be reserved for marginalized groups, including persons with disabilities and women.
Dr Michael Ofori-Mensah, Senior Research Fellow at IEA, observed that the ‘Winner-Takes-All’ system was a major cause for polarization in Ghanaian political discourse.
He said: “The threat posed by the ‘Winner-Takes-All’ practice, is undermining our democratic gains is a real and present danger.
“It is, therefore, critical to re-examine this system in order to arrive at a situation where decision-making becomes less divisive,” the researcher added.
Right Reverend Professor Emmanuel Martey, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, who chaired the forum, said with the selection procedure for public officers, “school boys are now preferred to experienced people”.
He described the process as a weapon for exclusion, victimization and a recipe for political disorder.
“It is a political disorder; it could bring a doom to the nation if not checked,” he cautioned.
Prof Martey also blamed framers of the 1992 Constitution, for protecting the persona of former President Jerry John Rawlings, for making the Constitution “Rawlings phobia.”
He warned that any rush into amending the Constitution would be detrimental to nation-building, and urged government to re-think through the proposals made.
But, Mr Alban Sumani Kingsford Bagbin, Minister of State, cautioned that people ought to guard against language that has the tendency to put off good minds from participating in the IEA consultation process.
He urged the committee to rather consider looking at political party funding and campaign financing, as a way of addressing the misuse of state resources.
He said the tendency for politicians to misapply state resources was not in doubt since they borrowed money from individuals and organisations to finance their campaigns.
Mr Bagbin called on IEA to focus on proposals to develop effective systems that could attract persons with integrity, honesty and morality, to serve the nation, since those tenets underpinned good governance.