Speakers at a national interest forum in Accra have called for the review of the winner-takes-all policy in the country’s democratic governance, since it is creating exclusion and tension in the country.
They said the current policy empowered the President to appoint mainly members of the ruling political party to important decision-making positions, to the neglect of other people in opposition parties and those with independent stance on issues.
Besides, they said, some directors were axed from office as soon as a new political party took over power, while the award of contracts and access to the services of state institutions were sometimes based on political affiliation.
They further argued that the continued exclusion of perceived political opponents from participating in the decision-making process and having access to state resources was the cause of tension and political violence in Ghana’s election between members of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and those of the New Patriotic Party (NPP).
The speakers at the forum were the Chairman of the National Peace Council (NPC), the Most Rev Prof. Emmanuel Asante; the Executive Director of the Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG), Dr Emmanuel Akwetey; the Chairman of the Civic Forum Initiative, Major General N.C. Coleman (retd); the Chairman of the Steering Committee of STAR-Ghana, Prof. Akilagpa Sawyerr, and the Omanhene of the Agona Asante Traditional Area, Nana Frimpong Anokye Ababio.
Organised by IDEG, in collaboration with the Civic Forum Initiative, the NPC, the National House of Chiefs, STAR-Ghana, the Daily Graphic and the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, the forum marked the inauguration of a nationwide conversation and campaign on multi-party governance reforms.
It was attended by leaders of political parties, religious and traditional leaders, captains of industry, people in academia and executive members of professional bodies and civil society organisations.
The Most Rev Prof. Asante
In his remarks, the Most Rev Prof. Asante said recent voting patterns in Ghana, with low margins of votes between the NDC and the NPP, indicated that Ghanaians were yearning for politics of inclusion rather than exclusion.
For instance, he said, Prof. John Evans Atta Mills of the NDC won the 2008 elections with less than one per cent votes against Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo of the NPP, while President Mahama also beat Nana Akufo-Addo with a little over two per cent in the 2012 elections.
The Most Rev Prof. Asante said although Ghana’s electoral violence was localised and confined, the underlying factors that caused electoral conflicts in sister African countries were not different from those that caused conflicts in the nation.
He, therefore, stressed the need for the country to end ethnocentrism, polarisation and exclusion in the body politic.
While commending Ghana for making giant strides in democratic governance in the past two decades, Dr Akwetey said there were some challenges that needed to be addressed.
He mentioned the weakening of national cohesion, the duopoly of the NDC and the NPP that promoted self-serving politics and exclusionary government, politicisation and corruption of public service bureaucracies, recurring threat of violence in elections and the lack of sustained political dialogue as some of the challenges facing the country’s democratic march.
Dr Akwetey said the practice of extreme partisanship or exclusion was bad, since the various political parties always wanted to satisfy their supporters.
He said the Constitutional Review Committees’s proposals for the amendment of the 1992 Constitution could not bring about the needed reforms to multi-party democracy.
Therefore, he said the inauguration of the national conversation, which was preceded by some work by IDEG and its partners, was to solicit broad-based views for multi-party reforms before the 2016 elections.
Dr Akwetey said leaders of the NDC and the NPP had given their word that they would discuss the proposals for reforms at a higher level.
Major Gen Coleman
Referring to the 2008 and 2012 elections, Major Gen Coleman said an observation and analysis of those elections indicated that they could have resulted in political violence that could threaten national unity.
He, therefore, stressed the need for reforms to improve the country’s democratic system and prevent any threat to violence and stability.
Touching on developments on the political front, Prof. Sawyerr said there was a widespread perception that politics was a means of grabbing wealth.
Besides, he said, political leaders focused on economic growth, to the neglect of the increasing inequality in society.
He stressed the need for the country’s politics to be based on issues rather than on personalities.
Nana Anokye Ababio
Speaking on behalf of the National House of Chiefs, Nana Anokye Ababio gave an assurance that chiefs would continue to play their part to seek peace for the development of the country.
He urged Ghanaians to avoid violence, maintain national cohesion, see one another as brothers and sisters and avoid the use of abusive and inflammatory language for the good of the country.