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Opinions of Monday, 12 October 2015

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

Parliamentary Seats Are Not Chieftaincy Stools!

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Garden City, New York

The idea that some parliamentary seats ought to be exclusively reserved for “indigenes” of certain parts of the country, particularly the Greater-Accra Region, is preposterous. Other than traditional royal stools and skins, the concept of indigeneity does not make sense in an electoral and/or constitutional democracy. The attempt by local party chiefs of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) to disqualify the eldest daughter of the Rawlingses from contesting the Klottey-Korley parliamentary primary ought not to be countenanced (See “Klottey-Korley NDC Executives Reject Ezenator Rawlings” / 9/7/15). We are being given to understand that, somehow, the Klottey-Korley Constituency and parliamentary seat are the especial preserve of ethnic-Ga natives. The motive here is that, somehow, Ghanaians of Ga ethnicity are a politically endangered species.

If the foregoing argument were deemed to hold water, then I can also think of a couple of parliamentary seats in Akyem-Abuakwa that have been held by “non-indigenes,” including Akyem-Akwatia, that ought to be disengaged or liberated from these “foreign” occupants, if the Klottey-Korley logic is to be equitably operationalized across the board. In the Anlo-Ewe areas of the Volta Region, the level of xenophobia makes it almost imperative for non-Ewes in other parts of the country to ensure that non-natives of Ewe descent, or even half-Ewe descent, are not allowed to occupy any parliamentary seats except, of course, where in the case of Akans, the contestant could legitimately point to an Akan matrilineage, if s/he happens to sport or carry an Ewe or non-Akan surname. This kind of nativist politics, of course, has absolutely no place in a constitutional democracy. And so if, indeed, it is true that the Klottey-Korley parliamentary seat has been consecutively held by only ethnic Gas since the beginning of Ghana’s Fourth Republic, then, needless to say, this ineluctably bad political practice ought to be promptly reversed.

One can fully appreciate the argument that the candidacy of Dr. Ezenator Rawlings ought to be rejected primarily because she is not a familiar face in the Klottey-Korley Constituency. But even then, such decision ought to be made by the delegates of the electoral district, and not by a handful of local party executives. And then if the contestant is able to make it through the primaries, the electoral mandate then shifts to the eligible voters of the constituency at large. This is how a constitutional democracy is run. In a communist or socialist political culture, such as prevails in China, Russia, North Korea and, perhaps, even Cuba, it is the party bosses and the Central Committee of the ruling sole state party that decide who qualifies to run in an election or does not qualify. And I can see why and how this problem has cropped up in the National Democratic Congress-sponsored parliamentary primaries. The preceding notwithstanding, we need to emphasize the fact that Ghana is not a socialist or communist “democracy.”

I am also aware of the battle for the “gendering” of parliamentary seats, particularly among some key operatives of the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP). While I wholeheartedly endorse gender equity in politics, nevertheless, such equalization ought to be predicated on merit, not on the mere possession of male or female genitalia. I am not in any way, whatsoever, sorry for the hostility being meted Dr. Ezenator Rawlings by members of her own father’s party. Both of her parents are widely known to have done worse things to legions of Ghanaians. I am also quite certain that the thirty-something-year-old woman also appreciates the causes of some of the turbulent political clouds she appears to be presently weathering. Ultimately, however, what is hoped for here is justice and fair play. Allow Dr. Rawlings to run in the Klottey-Korley parliamentary primary, and let’s just “hear” what party delegates have to “say.”