The effort by policy analysis think tank Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) to lead discussions towards discouraging ruling governments from pursuing ‘Winner takes all’ or ‘First-past-the-post’ governance is gathering momentum.
Yesterday, at the Alisa Hotel Accra, the institute held a mammoth gathering of experts and stakeholders in governance to rethink the ‘Winner takes all’policy for reforms.
The IEA offered the platform to enable the participants to build consensus on the thorny ‘Winner takes all’ issue for onward submission to the ongoing constitutional review process which started somewhere in 2010 but has stalled along the line due to a court injunction.
The participants specifically discussed recommendations in a report of the IEA’s 11-member Advisory Committee which had embarked on a nationwide tour to solicit the views of the public and all relevant stakeholders on the ‘Winner takes all’arrangement.
Rt. Rev. Charles Gabriel Palmer-Buckle, Metropolitan Archbishop of Accra, who chaired the workshop said Ghana risks political stagnation if the ‘Winner takes all’ system is not effectively dealt with in all spheres.
He said the time has come for all stakeholders to suggest mechanisms that helped other countries to develop democratically and said any effort towards discouraging the ‘Winner takes all’ syndrome should be ‘fine-tuned’ to meet the test of time.
The Archbishop said the IEA had already submitted the Advisory Committee’s report to the President and was awaiting a response on the way forward.
Justice Francis Emile Short, a former CHRAJ Boss who is a member of the Advisory Committee said their extensive interaction with the public and other stakeholders showed there was the need to bring urgent reforms to the country’s governance system.
He said for instance that majority of the people they interacted with were of the opinion that the 1992 Constitution had given the executive arm of government too much power and said the President’s overriding powers in the appointment of heads of public institutions was deepening the ‘Winner takes all’practice.
‘All these appointments are given to the ruling party’s supporters and it is not based on merit,’ adding ‘such appointments affect the performance of these public institutions,’ the judge quoted from the report.
He said the participants also wanted the role played by the Council of State redefined and that Ministers should not be appointed from Parliament so that it will give legislators more time to work effectively.
Dr. Rose Mensah-Kutin, Executive Director for Abantu for Development who is also a member of the Advisory Committee said the respondents were of the view that the country’s decentralization had been weakened largely due to lack of funds and said the committee was recommending 25% of national revenue to fund the assemblies.
She said there was consensus that District Chief Executives should be elected into office to bring about efficiency and responsibility.
Dr. Mensah-Kutin further said the committee recommended that there should be a well defined benchmarks if the country accepts to fund activities of political parties.
She suggested long term development plans for the country which all political parties would be bound by adding that the respondents were also in favour of a quota system in the legislature for lesser-known parties as well as vulnerable groups.
Jean Mensah, Executive Director of IEA said the ‘Winner takes all’ structure is deepening the country’s political polarization saying ‘we have to work on this if we want to move forward in our democratic governance.’
By William Yaw Owusu
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