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Opinions of Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Columnist: Ayisi, Gabriel A.

Parliament Must Enact A Campaign Contribution Law

Politically Ghana has come a long way. We have moved beyond the era when political violence was commonplace – the 1950s. We have also moved beyond the era when personal insults and character attacks were the order of the day during political campaigns – the 1970s. However, what we have not been able to do during our infant democratic process is vote buying which is being unashamedly displayed by some of NPPs presidential aspirants. If we want to mature as a political nation, the country needs to move beyond this crude form of campaigning. We must move beyond this cancer and grow our young democracy in perfection devoid of corrupt campaign tactics. We must vehemently frown on the use of money in influencing the electorate. We must not buy the conscience of the electorate but rather give them the chance to decipher candidates’ responses to pressing national issues that will lead to development. Politicians must stop using money to entice citizens and the electorate must refrain from selling their votes.

For politics to be fair and the electorate to be able to vote fairly without undue influence, we must discourage the giving of money or gifts in any form to the electorate. The recent incident where NPP delegates who had gathered at a meeting with one of the presidential aspirants rushed out and went to attend the meeting organized by another candidate is not because they love this other candidate (name withheld), but it is because of the money (five million old Ghana cedis each) they were expecting to receive. People should vote on issues and how the candidates promise to deal with them. In fact, the candidates must be required and made to debate each other on national issues and receive votes based on their understanding of what is at stake politically, economically, and socially. These debates must be televised and broadcast on radio stations for the consumption of the masses.

To maintain a corrupt free political campaign atmosphere within the country, we need to pass a campaign contributions law that will seek to limit how much individuals, companies, or organizations can give to a political candidate. If we fail to enact such a law, the current situation where money is doled out to the electorate will result in a hyper-corruption climate among our political players as the donors would want favors in return once the candidate they sponsored is entrenched in power. Ghana cannot afford to pawn or mortgage our political process or government. We want to elect candidates and presidents who owe no allegiance to anybody except to the electorate or the citizens of Ghana. The law must also reflect foreign contributions. We should be careful not to sell the county’s sovereignty – we fought too hard for it. Lately, there has been news that some of the political candidates have been entertaining receiving funds from a certain South American government.

The next thing we need to do is to streamline our political dispensation is to amend the constitution and subject all municipal Executive and all District Executive positions to the electoral process instead of making it the preserve of the ruling party. The citizens at the municipal and district levels must be given the chance to elect whom they want as their MCE or DCE and not someone imposed on them. This will make them effective, responsible and accountable to the electorate who will be able to judge their performance. This will also prevent them from merely being YES men and always singing to the tune of the MASTER. The ruling party must be able to deal fairly with an MCE or DCE irrespective of his or her political affiliation. Our ability to deal effectively and in an unbiased way with people (once elected into office) who do not share our political camp will reflect our political maturity.

By Dr. Gabriel A. Ayisi (New York)

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.