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Opinions of Monday, 29 November 2021

Columnist: Sadiq Adu-Twum

Is Ghana in an 'anarchic' state?

Thomas Hobbes the modern-day political philosopher describes international relations as anarchical. While this statement is true, and primarily concerned with the problem of 'order' within the nation-state, Hobbes description of the International 'state of nature has had a great influence on the democratic governance system and the development of international relations - could this relate to the current situation or state of affairs in Ghana?

Anarchy is often associated with periods of revolutionary upheaval and extreme social and political turbulence where even some science fiction writers and filmmakers are fond of employing the idea to depict the future of the human race. In this regard, can the current legal and ideological tussle, or the excessive display of partisan political power among the three arms of government(executive, legislature, and judiciary) be described as anarchical? The usage of this term evokes images of chaos, violence, and lawlessness derived from the Greek word anarkhos - meaning 'without a ruler'.

State of anarchy can be said to prevail when there is no government to keep the peace. Is that the case in Ghana now? The rife in the display of power especially by the legislative arm of government in recent times seem to fit into the anarchical nature of International politics metaphorically, where no single state (arm) or coalition of States (executive, legislature, and judiciary) has absolute control over the entire system. In this sense, there is no central government, and the peculiar character of the units operating within the democratic governance system is that they are sovereign and autonomous entities responsible for their fate even though they may not control it.

The legislative arm of government in recent times has exhibited and exercised a lot of excessive legitimate control of power and authority over their territory and answered to no higher 'power' from preventing members of parliament from being arrested by the security authorities when they are found to have allegedly committed some wrongs in society in the name of constitutional immunity enshrined in the 1992 constitution, or by unanimously rejecting a fiscal year budget thereby bringing governance and government machinery to somewhat a stand-still situation because the executive cannot fathom with the idea of scrapping what many have described as 'killer e-levy taxes.

There has been an enormous power clash amongst the three-arm of governments, and one cannot shy away from saying the country is in an anarchic mood. This is because they (executive, legislature, and judiciary) determine when it is conducive to fight; when to make peace, and when to act in concert with each other especially when there are economic gains like ex-gratia. After all, the anarchy of friends is quite different from the anarchy of enemies but both are possible.

The Speaker of the 8th Parliament of Ghana is reported to have said that "Parliament over the years has superintended over the passing and appropriation of many laws including budget allocation without taking cognizance of the fact that everything they approve goes to the executive, and for that reason, Parliament needs to sit up". So we ask, could this anarchical posture or style be what the good old longest-serving member of the parliament and now the speaker of the 8th parliament is advocating for?

Liberal scholars have criticised the position of Thomas Hobbes even though they agree that anarchy is important, they believe realists tend to exaggerate its effect on state behaviour, likewise, others also accept that anarchy is the characteristics condition in Africa and that by itself, it means nothing.
In this case, is the legislative arm of government embarking on an exercise in futility? Well, we live to see in the coming days as we lace our boots for the 2024 elections.

In short, the nature and effect of power (anarchy) play among the three arms of government depends greatly on the particular level of the playground and how they justify the character and relationship between different levels to guarantee development, which is the reason the people vote for them, and., not the attitude to show off the power that tends to affect the same people negatively.