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Opinions Fri, 16 Feb 2018

A history of Ghana's democracy and why others are leapfrogging Ghana

Many wonder why the initial post-independent rapid industrialisation, economic and human development of Ghana seems stymied after the first decade of transformation.

Why is a former war torn nation like Rwanda described as beautiful today after 30 years?

Why is Ethiopia, the first negative television image of Africa in the 1970s with famine ravaged children, today reported to have excess energy generation and attracting investors for a rapid economic growth and job creation!

To start understanding, we have to examine Ghana history of rule by monarchs- Chiefs and Kings, and later by a British Colonial rule, and then at independence a totally different system of representative government with one powerful leader with no Vice, just like traditional Chieftaincy.

The next 50 years after that was nothing but a disaster of desperation called revolution that replaced one set of rulers with another, and later an elected elite that the two-time coup leader and President Jerry Rawlings has called "greedy bastards"!

After half a centry Ghana still has a constitution with an endemic culture of dictatorship or centralized powers.

Ghana's 1992 Constitution was created at a time when a brutal dictatorship with some unscrupulous elements and even thieves had ruled Ghana for 11 years and started taking loans from the World Bank.

The constitution was a document to allow the election of one man with legal control over the whole nation, with power over the purse of a group of representatives elected from their constituencies but with no control of even their leadership in Parliament. As such Ghana is not a Parliamentary democracy and neither an American type democracy!

Did anybody notice President Kufuor increased the number of Supreme Court Judges and appointed more of them to have majority appointed by him? - Does the President have an influence in appointing the speaker of Parliament. Yes he does!

- Do MPs and even District and Metro chief executives even have any ways of raising money besides the trickle-down that the central government gives them every quarter? No!

Sometimes a whole district is given $5,000 to operate but everybody's pay is coming from Accra!

For those who have lived in Canada, Australia, Germany, US, etc, is that how democracy works?

My dear friends-

Ghana was dealt a bad hand in the 1992 Constitution when one man Jerry Rawlings and his few friends Tsatsu Tsikata and his brother, Ato Ahwoi and brothers, and few others were pushed to hand over power mostly due to pressures from outside and the World Bank; and they even inserted at the last minute an Indemnity clause that prevents anybody holding members of the PNDC responsible for any past wrongdoing, and that for 26 years has not be discussed!!

Some of you may see how other nations like Ethiopia and Rwanda and even Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa, younger nations (except Ethiopia), are moving forward ahead of Ghana, including South Africa - all nations that in 1960-65 Ghana used resources to help in their freedom!

The problem lies in OUR FLAWED 1992 CONSTITUTION!! Ghana needs visionary leadership, but we also need to empower our people to learn at the local level.

The current President Nana Akufo Addo was one of the people who stood up in protests and marches against the illegal PNDC junta from 1982 to 1992. The late Prof. Adu Boahene, Kwesi Pratt Jr., Lawyers Akoto Ampaw and Ndebugri in Ghana were active in the opposition to military rule. The group in North America included Lawyer Affram Asiedu, Dr. Jude Aidoo, Prof. W. Lamouse-Smith. In the final leg we had no Dr. Kofi Baidoo, Kofi Amoah, and Kwesi Amoafo-Yeboah, and this writer were very active and instrumental in the struggle and agitation to finally return Ghana to civilian rule in 1992.

Trust me there is work still to be done! And those of you behind should continue to think and ponder and work to make Ghana a better democracy!!

So far in 26 years major amendments to allow towns and districts to elect their leadership and decentralize power have NOT been implemented because the few in power sense the sweetness of centralized power once elected! In a true democracy one President cannot and should not appoint all cabinet Ministers, as well as Regional Governors, District and Metropolitan Chief executives and town Mayors! No!!

Those of you dreaming of entering the power politics of Ghana should be careful of the greed and selfishness of using public office and funds to enhance your livelihoods, shopping and to pay for medical care overseas, and the evils of participative possible corruption added!

President Akuffo Addo and the NPP have promised to allow decentralization to take place through local elections in 2018.

Let us all rally and remind Parliament and the President, through letters, calls and articles on all media platforms, to allow election of local leaders and GIVE POWER TO THE PEOPLE!!! That is what democracy is all about! Human development starts when people learn to clean up and develop their own neighborhoods and towns for their children and those behind them.

God bless our Ghana.

Dr. K. Danso Co-Founder/President, GLU- Ghana Leadership Union

Columnist: Kwaku A. Danso