The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), has called for apt legal reforms to end the polarization and high tension characterizing the ‘Winner-Takes-All’ Politics threatening Ghana’s fledgling democracy.
“Winner-Takes-All is divisive, and appropriate constitutional amendments ought to be made to deal with the challenges it poses to Ghana’s fledgling democracy,” said Mrs Jean Mensa, Executive Director of IEA-Ghana on Wednesday.
Mrs Mensa, who said this in a statement copied to the Ghana News Agency, also called for the Constitution Review process to be slowed down, to incorporate proposals on how to deal with the winner-takes-all phenomenon.
Participants at the final public consultative forum, urged Ghanaians to inculcate the values that underpin good governance spanning patriotism, honesty, respect, tolerance, consensus-building, integrity, and good citizenship to nationalism.
They argued that the practice of winner-takes-all politics is attitudinal, and constitutional provisions might not be enough to sufficiently deal with it.
Winner-Takes-All and the politics of exclusion manifests at levels of society, including intra-party level, where those deemed not to have contributed to the electioneering campaign of a candidate, or held different views, faced marginalization and exclusion.
Mrs Mensa said Public Funding of Political Parties remained the surest option to curtail the Winner-Takes-All Politics, since it prevents few financiers from hijacking Political Parties.
She said it creates a level playing field for all parties; reduces tension and threats of democratic relapse during electioneering campaign.
It also ensures Political Parties with the wherewithal to keep the President on its toes, to deliver on campaign promises, and checks executive excesses, she added.
The IEA demanded a strict separation of powers between the Executive and Legislature, to guarantee Parliament Acts as a check on the Executive.
The institute also called for a long-term National Development Plan formulated with inputs from all political parties, and the manifestos of Political Parties ought to explain how they would achieve targets set in the Plan.
“This provision must be entrenched in the Constitution to ensure that all Political Parties that are voted to power, are guided by the Plan,” it said.
The IEA urged government to possibly opt for a Customized Variant of Proportional Representation, that promotes inclusive politics, taking in view the interests of women, persons with disabilities and other marginalized groups.
It wanted the appointing powers of the President to be reviewed from consulting the Council of State, to giving powers to independent constitutional bodies with recourse to competence.
The Institute encouraged the President to appoint people outside his or her party, to serve on Boards, Committees and Commissions, based on expertise and competence
“Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives, as well as all members of the District Assemblies, must be directly elected by the people,” it said.
The Winner-Takes-All practice in governance has been identified as one of the main factors responsible for the growing polarization of the Ghanaian society, and the politicization of issues of national importance that require consensus.
In recent times, several Ghanaians have expressed concerns about the Winner-Takes-All Politics, including President John Mahama.
The IEA quoted President Mahama as saying: “…the winner-takes all system in Ghana's political dispensation is not helpful, as the government and opposition remain parallel even after elections.
“The current trend of democracy in the world needs the co-operation of both government and opposition, to fine-tune the constitutional demands of the people.
“The country needs "concerted efforts and co-operation from all citizens to achieve development.
“All stakeholders must take a look at how best the negative trend entailed in the Winner-Takes-All system could be ameliorated, to support the government to strengthen institutions…"
According to the institute, Ghana escaped near social and political breakdown through perceived monopoly of political and economic clout by the winning party, threats of violence and legal challenge to the tenure of the Presidency and the electoral system in the last two General Elections.
To consolidate Ghana’s constitutional democracy, IEA established an 11-member Advisory Committee of experts and eminent Ghanaians, under the chairmanship of Archbishop Gabriel Charles Palmer-Buckle, Metropolitan Archbishop of Accra, to re-examine Ghana’s Winner-Takes-All system.
The committee is to also oversee the conduct of a nation-wide public consultation process on this issue and propose recommendations for reform.
More than 200 people attended the final public consultation forum on Tuesday in Accra.
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