Tuesday, 20 May 2014

The Need For Multi-Party Governance Reforms

Civil society groups and individuals have lauded the Institute of Democratic Governance, IDEG's initiative for convening a national
interest dialogue on the urgency for multiparty governance reforms
before 2016 elections. However, critical issues that came up in this dialogue are about its sustainability and matters arising from the debates.

One would ask how relevant are the issues? IDEG has identified challenges to the country's democratic governance and is advocating that to address them, there should be the promotion of a more inclusive government, eradication of the threat of political violence in the country's electoral democracy, the strengthening of national cohesion; and changing the public service bureaucracies for
effective professional and impartial services.

Furthermore, IDEG suggests that to address the myriad of challenges confronting Ghana's democracy, political parties should be transformed into effective development organizations rather than being only elections machines.

Many will agree that political parties should not be election machines only, but contribute by becoming effective development organizations.

The question is how can this be achieved? One way to do this is
perhaps through legislation and for that matter amending the constitution. Then one may ask, how many times will the Constitution be amended? An issue that rears its ugly head at a time when the Constitutional Review Commission, set up to facilitate the effective implementation of the amendments to the constitution, is almost at the height of its work.

It therefore presupposes that the constitutional amendments on political parties may be recurring in short term, which normally is supposed to be on a long term basis, like 10 to 20 years after the first amendment. What is also critical is that for all the political parties and not only the two major ones to become active
development mechanisms, there should be a guaranteed funding for them.

This means to avoid any questionable sources of electoral funding, government must take up the issue of funding.

Another issue that emerge at the IDEG's national interest dialogue is the promotion of a more inclusive government. This is being interpreted as ruling with colleagues from the other political divide. That is to say, ruling with political opponents who may not necessarily share the same vision or ideologies, but are competent for a particular job.

This could be good in the opinion of political optimists, at the same time dangerous for political pessimists. How can President Mahama for instance make Dr. Bawumia his Finance Minister after he and his supporters
challenged Mahama’s legitimacy as President in the Supreme Court?

In actual fact, IDEG's concern is about inclusive government and not
leaving anyone out, so far as the national cake is concerned. To
promote inclusive governance, Parliamentarians will have to put a stop to boycotting proceedings in the House.

This is for a simple reason that they were given the mandate by the people to represent them and therefore, Parliamentarians must not see themselves as individuals, but the people's choice and must perform that mandate accordingly.

For democratic progressives, sustaining the current peaceful political atmosphere is paramount. This can be done according to IDEG, through the eradication of the threat of political violence during elections, and the strengthening of national cohesion.

National Cohesion is not the responsibility of government alone, but the citizenry as well as other civil society organisations. The onus
on government in this context is to provide the resources and create the enabling environment for citizens to realize the need to place patriotism above partisanship.

BY REBECCA EKPE, A JOURNALIST.

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