Mr Samuel Sarpong, Ashanti Regional Minister, says the exclusion and lack of participation in the political development process, are to blame for the current polarization of the country.
“The politics of winner-takes-all or what can be described as politics of exclusion, has eaten so deep into the nation’s political discourse to the extent that we have even politicized religion.”
To help deal with this, he said there was the need to harness ideas within and outside the political parties, and to encourage the people’s participation in both the political and development process.
Mr Sarpong, who was speaking at a workshop on the ‘Winner-Takes-All” System Ghana is practising, said deliberate efforts should be made to promote inclusiveness.
The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) organized the workshop to seek the views of political parties, traditional rulers, civil society groups, academia and religious organizations in Ashanti and Brong-Ahafo Regions, on ways to break the unhealthy tradition, to bring everybody on board so that there would be national cohesion and progress.
Mr Sarpong said even though Ghana had escaped the scourge of violence at the ballot box, it was yet to achieve the level of inclusiveness that would enhance the integrity of its democracy, and reduce poverty.
He noted that there was goodwill among the generality of Ghanaians, and expressed the hope that the IEA dialogue would open the door to a broader consensus on such important national issue to fine-tune the country’s democracy.
Mr Justice Emile Short, former Commissioner of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), said the ‘winner-takes-all’ system had made elections a “do and die affair,” which had always brought fear among majority of the electorate.
It had also been a mechanism for political intimidation, discrimination and partisan monopolization of national resources, which had resulted in divisions, marginalization and apathy.
Mr Short stressed the need for a political system that would give opportunities to people, irrespective of their political inclinations to serve their nation.
This would help reduce rancour, hatred and sabotage of national agenda and others, which had characterized the nation.
The participants stressed the need for an urgent national development agenda, to ensure that parties which come to power follow the national agenda, and not their parochial interests.