Friday, 25 July 2014

Political Polarisation And Its Impact On Development

This year 2014, marks 21 years since constitutional rule was restored in Ghana.

During this period, the country has held six successful competitive multi-party elections. Although these elections have been adjudged to be generally peaceful and relatively credible, multi-party  politics in Ghana continues to be plagued by challenges such as incumbency abuse, bitter and highly acrimonious governance and policy making, among others.

The party in government and its counterparts in opposition are  constantly engaged in brinkmanship, which often compromise unity, peace and national development.

Countries in West Africa have, in  fact, undergone several political transitions; from multi-party  democracy, through one- party rule and military dictatorship, and then back to multi-party democracy. Ghana as a country has undoubtedly attracted the admiration of the global community as a result of the gains made in her constitutional democratic evolution since 1992.

This was further exemplified in the Supreme Court Election Petition, which was considered by many as not only a test case but an important leap in Ghana’s democratic dispensation.

However, given the recent  trend of political polarization and the winner takes all syndrome, the country has two dominant political parties with roughly equal popularity, which provides a potential recipe for disaster;
particularly when one of the two major political parties becomes intransigent and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opponent.

So when one party moves this far from the center of Ghanaian politics, it is difficult to enact policies responsive to the country’s most pressing challenges and this affects the development, and popular grass root participation in governance.

Government after government over the years have preached the need for an all-inclusiveness as a panacea and mechanism by which the political polarization could be ventilated, with none actually demonstrating the needed political will and commitment to this course after assumption
of power.

The situation is seemingly getting more compounded as the phenomenon of political polarization is gradually taking tribal and ethnic dimensions in Ghana’s body politics resulting in a systemic shift from issue- based politics to personality attacks and deliberate character assassination.

It is therefore not surprising to see the mounting tension, accusation and counter accusation during every parliamentary and presidential election in Ghana.

This is borne out of the winner- gains and the loser-loses attitude and mentality of the “modern” Ghanaian politician, which has resulted in the creation of artificial political seasons in Ghana, that run concurrently;-dry season for the opposition and wet season for the political party in power.

In this current state of affairs, decency, decorum and civility in politics have been thrown to the dogs, integrity is getting extinct and the truth is sacrificed on daily basis for selfish interest.

The fundamental question is: how long in the name of democracy, can we continue to gamble with and sacrifice Ghana;-her people, resources and fragile peace on the altar of parochialism?

How long can we continue to lose the competence, expertise and invaluable contributions of the opposition to national development through this cancer of exclusivity in governance?

Ghana is bigger than any  individual person, ethnic group or political party. What she needs to grow even more is an all-inclusive celebration of a WIN- WIN situation by all parties. Long live Ghana and long live democracy.

By James Ziekye Honorable Assembly Member of the Jirapa District Assembly in the Upper West Region

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