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General News of Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Source: citifmonline.com

Monetization of politics breeding ‘political godfathers’ – CDD Ghana

A Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Democratic Development (CDD), Dr. Kojo Asante, has expressed fear that the worsening monetization of Ghana’s politics will breed ‘godfathers’ who will directly or indirectly govern the country because they can afford to induce voters or sponsor other politicians to gain power with money.

Speaking on Citi TV’s Point of View hosted by Bernard Avle on Monday, Dr. Asante said the phenomenon was deepening because it has been left to fester for more than a decade.

He said the practice further deepens corruption in Ghana’s politics, and could destroy’s the country’s democratic gains if not checked. “This thing [monetization] is not sustainable. The number of candidates who stood for the 2016 elections is almost a 1,000 but only 275 got elected. If they are all spending this amount of money, taking loans and personal savings and so on, at every election if you add of those monies together, there is a lot of people taking a huge risk and fall into debt. So we increasingly are monetizing the politics. Citizens are feeding into it, politicians are responding to that demand and it is escalating every year,” he said.

“You can’t sustain it because where are you going to get the money from. It is the big people who have money that begin to control politics because everybody is going to them. We are getting close to getting godfathers in politics,” he added.

He added that the decision to increase electoral colleges so as to minimize the incident of vote buying and voter inducement in internal party elections, has not achieved much success as political actors have devised new ways of inducing electorates.

“During Rawlings’ time, people to use to talk about T-shirts and it moved to flat screen TVs. We thought that if we expand the Electoral College we might minimize it because there will be too many delegates to bribe, but 6,000 delegates and people are still finding innovative ways of giving material incentives,” Kojo Asante added.

Kojo explained that such practices hinder the growth of democracy in the country since it is not sustainable.

He told host Bernard Avle that politicians have made it possible for electorates to make material demands of them because they always strive to meet the demands, despite the fact that some of them are led into serious debts.

He argued that it is among the reasons why some politicians come into office with the primary motive of making money so as to recoup the huge investments.

“It can lead to corruption….So when you enter government, you are almost always looking trying to find money to recoup your investment. People borrow money. People sell their assets,” he noted.

Meanwhile, the Member of Parliament for Effutu, Alexander Afenyo-Markin, who confirmed that politicians often incentivize electorates with materials and money, said it had become inherent in the country’s politics.

While discounting claims that party delegates request for bribes to vote for a specific candidate, he said that politicians seeking power often deem it appropriate to support them.

It cost an MP $86,000 to get party nomination

A research, conducted by the Westminster Foundation for Democracy and the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD), in February 2018, revealed that at least it will cost a Member of Parliament US$86,000 to secure a party’s primary nomination to compete in parliamentary elections in the country.

The cost of running for political office in Ghana went up by nearly 60 percent over one single electoral cycle – between 2012 and 2016., the study noted.

According to the report, if the cost of politics rises to unaffordable levels the danger is that politics becomes the domain of the elite and wealthy, and that the motivates and incentivizes MPs to move from serving the public to recovering their own investment.