Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Winner Takes All’ Syndrome In Ghana

It is often said in Ghana that it is wiser to yield to demands to sell one's mother for power because after attaining the power, one can comfortably get back his or her mother. This demonstrates the might of power in our part of the world. It is therefore not surprising that in Ghana, what has become known as ‘the winner takes all’ politics is pervasive. A political party is either in or out. It therefore came as no surprise to many when at a lecture in 2012 on the topic ‘Democratic Governance in Ghana: 'How Political Polarization may be abated’ a retired Supreme Court Judge, Justice V.C.R.A.C. Crabbe remarked that after winning election, ‘only party faithful become citizens of the country whiles others become foreign nationals’. With absolute control over all the national resources, coupled with the power to go ones way regardless of what others say, and the hypocrisy by supporters to shower praises on victorious politicians even where there is none, political parties justifiably cannot want to be in opposition. Former President John Kufuor hit the nail right on the head when he said that people can do anything to get power or to hold on to power. Power, indeed, is sweet. It is unfortunate that very vital public facilities funded by the tax payer continue to favour power holders. This explains why some people will be in a queue for hours to see a doctor in a public hospital whiles others simply walk in with absolute ease and get whatever services they need. On one occasion, customers at a bank got furious when a young lady described the service rendered her as excellent because she was served immediately she walked into the banking hall. This happened when other customers including some elderly citizens had been in the bank for over three hours without being attended to. Sadly, a security man told the angry customers that the said lady was a minster’s daughter - as though minister’s relatives have an edge over others. Some people simply sit at home and receive appointment letters because they have links with people in government, whiles others carry big files and walk from Ministry to Ministry for months and sometimes years searching in vain for jobs. This has persisted in all governments that have ruled Ghana since Independence. These are some of the issues that explain the tensions and occasional sporadic violence during elections, after all, the winner ‘will eat all’ because he or she has it all.

Calls for a second look at the ‘winner takes all’ syndrome are therefore justified. Indeed, there have been attempts in the past to reduce the powers of ruling governments but these have failed. Admittedly, the decentralization concept that the PNDC intended could have partly solved the problem of winner takes all if it were properly implemented. Unfortunately, the none partisan district level election appears to be a positive step and even under that, the Executive President still appoints 30 percent into the assemblies. We are therefore left with no option than to endure the painful practice where even board members of public institutions are appointed by the Executive President.

Power, like Justice, belongs to the people hence they must have a say in the governance process than merely voting in election years. At the National Constitution Review Conference, no consensus was reached on the mode of selecting Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCE's). For the way forward, the Government White Paper on the CRC, report approves the recommendation that the President will nominate a candidate for approval by a simple majority of the Assembly as DCE. In Municipalities however, the President shall nominate persons who will be vetted by the Public Services Commission for competence after which three nominees will contest in a public election in each Municipality. Mayors in Metropolitan areas will on the other hand be elected by acclamation. These in addition to the fact that the Legislature is not seriously affected by the' winner takes all' syndrome will partly address the problem. To strengthen this, the Legislature must fight to reverse the practice where MP's cannot introduce a Bill into Parliament. Beyond these, there should be a conscious effort to expand the private sector to reduce the dependence on the State for virtually everything including football sponsorship and employment. Until such a time, let us all stop the blame game and contribute our quota to the democratic progress of our motherland, Ghana, by working hard, paying our taxes and exposing nation wreckers.


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