Constitutional law professor, H. Kwasi Prempeh, says President John Mahama personifies Ghana’s leadership problem. He therefore doubts if the President’s recent dribsy-drabsy ministerial reshuffles, are the solution to the West African country’s crises.
‘A cabinet/ministerial reshuffle appears to be the only option open to a government in a presidential system to try to change course and arrest its declining political fortunes in the period between elections. But when the leadership problem lies squarely with the person at the helm himself, as it does in Mahama’s Ghana, ministerial reshuffle is mere window dressing,’ the Seton Law Professor said in a comment on Facebook.
Prempeh, who specialises in constitutional law, comparative constitutional design, and problems of constitutionalism in post-authoritarian societies, said were Ghana practising a Westminster-style of government, the plethora of economic crises would have sparked dissension and debate within the governing party that will eventually lead to a purge of the current leader for a new one.
‘If ours was a Westminster-style parliamentary system of government, the deepening crisis and paralysis of leadership and attendant poor governance in Ghana today might occasion a robust debate and power struggle within the ruling party and cabinet.’
He said such a struggle will result ‘in a challenge to the leadership of John Mahama and his possible ouster as head of government by a rival insider.’
The former Director of Legal Policy and Governance at the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development argued that the ‘ability of a majority party in the Westminster tradition to effect an orderly leadership change in the period between elections, and thereby reset the button when faced with a crisis of confidence and popular disaffection, is one advantage of the parliamentary system over the presidential.’
‘In the latter, where the mandate of the president or head of government derives directly from the people rather than the party, the president enjoys a constitutionally fixed term of office. Thus, there is, in the presidential system, no prospect of an orderly, internal leadership change or challenge midstream (save by impeachment), regardless of the evident ineffectiveness and deepening unpopularity of a government. (Impeachment is, of course, a very limited, procedurally constrained option that is not designed or intended as a remedy for poor or failed leadership).
‘This should give you some idea why African leaders who inherited parliamentary systems at independence, beginning with Ghana’s, quickly jettisoned them for a presidential-style government: by so doing, they masterfully nipped in the bud all possibility of a challenge or change to their rule and tenure emanating from within their party, cabinet, or parliament,’ Prempeh said.
‘We would be witnessing a great deal of political drama, both in parliament (e.g., Question Time) and within the ruling party and cabinet, as well as the prospect of an internal change of the guard, had we chosen a different system of government from what we have now at this moment of crisis and decay. As things stand now, we, including those voters feeling buyer’s remorse, are all stuck with, and must continue to suffer the pain arising from the rule of, a grossly inept president for another two and a half years,’ he observed.
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