Participants in political discourse in Tamale have called for the strengthening of institutions that promote accountability in governance to check the excesses of the existing political system.
The discussants expressed concern over the dominance of the two main political parties — the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) — in the governance of the country and indicated that the nation risked becoming a two-party state.
They, therefore, called on the leadership of the smaller parties to gird their loins and map out strategies that could include mergers to make them more viable and attractive to the electorate.
The roundtable discussion sought to identify the driving power relations and ideas that are shaping the nation’s political and economic development.
It was organised by the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) as part of its development dialogue series on the theme: “can Ghana’s current dominant two-party system promote inclusive development, a dynamic mapping of the political settlement in Ghana.”
Some of the discussants stressed the need for the National Commission on Civic Education (NCCE) to be adequately resourced to carry out its mandate, which includes educating the general public on their rights and responsibilities.
In his response to some of the issues raised, the Head of Research and Programmes and Deputy Director of CDD-Ghana, Dr Franklin Oduro, noted that until the smaller parties ironed out their differences and came together to demonstrate their seriousness, they would always remain unattractive and at the periphery of power.
He further called for the strengthening of state institutions such as the security services and the judiciary to make them functional and relevant to the needs of the people.
“It is unfortunate that we are mostly the first to sign on to international conventions, yet we do not enforce them because our institutions are weak and therefore not operational,” he indicated.
He, however, noted that in spite of the challenges Ghana was still viewed as a progressive democracy following the holding of six relatively peaceful, credible multi-party elections.
Also worthy of mention is the country’s independent judiciary and a thriving free and vibrant media.
“Notwithstanding the gains made on the nature of competitive political process, multi-party system in Ghana has become increasingly characterised by entrenching patron-client form of politics rather than democratic competitive clientele’s settlement,” Dr Oduro indicated.
He said this had often led to inter-elite factionalism, corruption, ethnic politics and weak checks and balances, and, therefore, called for the passage and enforcement of existing laws that promoted transparency and disclosures such as the Freedom of Information bill and the Whistle blowers Act to help transform the current political settlement.