Politics In Ghana and It’s Monetization and Influence peddling

Monetization and Influence peddling in Ghanaian politics did not start today.  It has been with us in various forms since the country attained independence. In the just ended limited voter registration we saw politicians and political parties spending huge sums of money to hire buses to convey prospective voters or young people who have attained 18 years to District offices of the Electoral Commission to register their names to enable them to vote in elections. As the District Assembly election and political parties gear up to organize their primaries to elect parliamentary candidates, we should expect patronage or monetary influence to be on the upsurge.
The question is why do people spend huge sums of money to pay their way to political office and how do they expect to recoup such expenditure when they get into office? This, no doubt is the root cause of corruption which is high in the country these days. It is against this backdrop that we commend the stakeholder consultation organized yesterday by the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs to interrogate the existing intra party electoral arrangements that foster monetization and their implications for influence and corruption and whether these arrangements can effectively safeguard Ghana’s democracy.
Twenty-six years into Ghana’s fourth Republican Constitution the hitherto perception of money being used to influence the outcome of elections has become a reality. Vote buying is on the ascendency and manipulation of voters have become the order of the day. Politicians and for that matter political parties bend themselves backward to warm their way to power.
Some go to the extent of making fanciful promises and even those they know within themselves they cannot fulfil.  Party manifestos are couched in such a way to entice the electorate to vote for them. We have situations where delegates to party primaries are camped in luxurious hotels and given all manner of largesse just to influence them. We have instances where candidates have bought expensive items like buses, fridges, TV sets and the like just to woo voters to vote for them.
We need to take another look at party financing especially sources of resources of political parties, how do they gain access to these resources, how are the resources utilized and how are they sustainable.  Also needed to be addressed are the outcome of funding of political parties in areas such as their operations, stability performance, intra and inter party relationship. There is no gain saying that financing is a critical resource for party building.
Hitherto the State used to be supporting the political parties with vehicles but these have ceased. State funding of political parties creates an even playing field for general election. It engenders transparency and eliminates the survival of the fittest in political elections.  Another issue that needs taking care of is the winner takes all syndrome in our politics. It is trite knowledge that when political parties seek financing from individuals, the tendency to reward these financiers with either political positions or juicy contracts to either themselves or their benefactors. There is no free lunch, they say.
Whoever finances a political party expects the party to show appreciation in one way or the other and this does not augur well for transparency, probity and accountability and what have you.  Recent situations where some political parties have pegged the picking of their nomination forms at neck-breaking fees is not the best.  Laws regulating political parties must be rigidly enforced.  As the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu indicated at the stakeholder’s forum Ghana risk losing competent and skilled people in politics if the phenomenon of monetization is not curbed. The current practice where the rich and the elites call the shots and dictate the pace in political parties is dangerous to the sustainability of our democracy and must be looked at critically.
BY JUSTICE MINGLE, A JOURNALIST

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