The 2012 Presidential Candidate of the Convention People’s Party (CPP), Dr Michael Abu Sakara, has called for the formulation of an alternative political system that will ensure greater inclusion, accountability and continuity of governance between different administrations.
In his view, the most significant consensus from Senchi Economic Forum was that the nation had lost its way and needed to rediscover its vision for a shared national development path within a more inclusive system of governance.
Dr Sakara, who was commenting on the Senchi Economic Forum, said the forum was necessary and useful because it reached a consensus that the country needed to fix the economy, but within a framework that addressed fundamental longer-term issues.
He explained that the ineffectual platitudes of “we will continue previous projects and we will be inclusive” had run their course.
According to Dr Sakara, focusing on the short-term monetary policy issues without initiating a vigorous process for seeking political accommodation for longer-term solutions would be a misplaced focus.
“The focus on finding a political solution for governance that works better than the current dysfunctional duopoly ought to be a priority and pursued with the same sense of urgency as the quick fixes we seek for the economy,” Dr Sakara stated.
He also said that the neglect and corruption associated with the unbridled system of the duopoly had deepened the impact of the economic quagmire the country found itself in.
In his view, the country fell into the economic quagmire long before the global crisis because under the duopoly, the government could not focus long enough on the national interest, but rather focused on the next election instead of the next generation.
According to Dr Sakara, it was clear from the 22-point consensus that the participants ensured the forum was also used to deliberate on national issues that were broader than just the economy so in effect, it was a hybrid of a national consultative forum and a national economic forum.
He said while all the participants agreed that the economy was in crisis and needed fixing, the larger and more important need was to find the correct development path for the nation.
He added that no amount of tweaking of the economy and financial system could put the nation back on the right path without a political accommodation that worked better than the “winner-takes-all” system of governance.
Although the “winner takes all” version of democracy had made the rule of law familiar to us, it had also opened deep chasms and over-polarised Ghana’s society, he explained.
Dr Sakara expressed the belief that the era of the “winner-takes-all system’” was over since it was no longer useful. The challenge therefore was to formulate, as soon as possible, an alternative political accommodation that would be to ensure greater inclusion, accountability and continuity of governance between different administrations. Concerning efforts to amend the constitution, he said “Our approach should be to assess the effectiveness of various methods of achieving inclusivity, transparency, accountability and continuity.”
According to him, the discourse should be in terms of functionality rather than just adopting one system or another because it looks more promising, explaining that “just because a particular system has worked for others does not mean it will work for us”.
He also said that ‘’any system must be suited to our situation knowing how we conduct ourselves and our traditions and must take into account the innate characteristics of our multi-ethnic societies and their struggles for supremacy that play out on the political scene. To deny that will be an act of fanciful folly”.
He said that the issue might not be whether the country reverted to a Westminster parliamentary system or continued with an Executive Presidency but “the issue is whether we can improve on the existing system of governance now that we know where we abuse it and how easy it is to mismanage it for our selfish and partisan interests.”
He explained that putting in the checks and balances to correct the excesses and failures of the existing system as per our own experience may be preferable to wholesale adoption of yet another foreign system.
“Finding ways to fix the inadequacies in our current system of governance is certainly preferable to the continuous howling about the evils of colonialism, imperialism and neo-liberal tendencies,” he said
According to him, we must seize the opportunity to take “matters into our own hands once again, and use the process of the current constitutional review to change the system as a matter of urgency.”
He also believes that in the process of decentralisation, Ghanaians must assert their right to directly elect their local government officials (DCEs and MDCEs).
“We must also reconsider the number of districts, which are now too many to manage effectively, and many of them are too small to be viable,” he indicated.
Perhaps districts can be reduced to 60 or 70 and increased in size to contain at least three to four constituencies depending on population density, Dr Sakara suggested. The regions may subsequently approximate development zones and be increased to cover the major ecologies and sub-ecologies for purposes of concentrated long-term investment in strategic industries.
He said that the suggestion of constituting a permanent membership of the Council of State with the heads of relevant institutions and bringing on board the Presidents of Regional House of Chiefs to make it less partisan was good.