Ghana does not operate a Westminster system of governance

Sun, 13 Jan 2019 Source: Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

It is nothing short of scandalous for the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, who also doubles as the Parliamentary Majority Leader, to tell Ghanaians that the country’s current system of governance is a Xerox copy of the Westminster System (See “ Mensah-Bonsu Replies GIMPA Rector; ‘Making MPs Ministers Doesn’t Weaken Parliament ’” Modernghana.com 1/8/19). You see, in the Westminster System, the Head-of-Government is called a Prime Minister.

The system originated in Great Britain where, presently, Mrs. Theresa May is the Head-of-Government or Prime Minister. This is the type of system that prevails in most of the English-speaking Caribbean nations, including Guyana, Jamaica, Antigua and Trinidad; and outside of the Caribbean, the Dominions of Canada, Australia and New Zealand, as well as India, the most populous Westminster-operated democratic system of governance in the world.

In Ghana, and other parts of the African continent, such as Kenya and Nigeria, as well as Uganda, perhaps purely out of sheer greed and megalomania, the system that presently prevails is a hybrid or, properly speaking, a bastardized system whereby a parliamentary system is awkwardly combined with an Executive Presidential System, such as prevails here in the United States of America. Japan also has a striking Westminster-type of government, just like Britain, where the Head-of-State is the Japanese Emperor, just as in the United Kingdom of Great Britain, as well as Canada, Australia and New Zealand, it is Queen Elizabeth, II, who is the Head-of-State. In Ghana, and Nigeria as well, the President is both the Head-of-State and the Head-of-Government. In the Prime Ministerial Dominions, such as most of the English-speaking Caribbean countries, there is also a Governor-General who represents the Queen of England. Ghana departed from this patently imperialistic system in 1961, but as a bona fide key member and operative of the erstwhile British Commonwealth of Nations, now abbreviated as The Commonwealth, Ghana and most of the non-Westminster governance systems on the African continent, and elsewhere, are still effectively and psychologically caught in this maelstrom of a slavocratic political culture.

It was a Garveyite dictatorial President Kwame Nkrumah who attempted to wean Ghana and the rest of Anglophone Africa from the psychological tentacles of Britain. But Nkrumah would have equally desperately and blindly driven Ghana into the even harsher and more extortionate imperialistic tentacles of the Socialist and Communist East, his famous declaration of political neutrality notwithstanding: “We neither face West nor East; rather, we face forward.” Indeed, what distinguishes the Westminster System of the Prime Ministerialship from the kind of Executive Presidency which presently prevails in Ghana, is the fact that the Prime Minister had to periodically, often weekly or biweekly, appear before Parliament, that is, before the common people’s representatives, to render a comprehensive account of his stewardship. This was precisely what an increasingly chafing dictatorial and megalomaniacal Prime Minister Kwame Nkrumah sought to avoid, which was why in 1959, or thereabouts, he prevailed on a largely rubber-stamp parliament to facilitate his declaration of Ghana as a Republic with an Executive Presidential System.

If Mr. Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu is not privy to these very basic facts, then the Kumasi-Suame New Patriotic Party’s Member of Parliament has absolutely no business, whatsoever, holding himself off as Ghana’s Parliamentary Majority Leader. He is a jaded run-of-the-mill political operative who may very well have long exhausted himself of creative legislative verve or vim. I also sincerely don’t believe that Mr. Mensah-Bonsu creditably acquitted himself in his defense against the proposition by Prof. Philip Ebow Bondzie-Simpson, the Rector of the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration that, by and large, the overwhelming majority of parliamentarians who double as cabinet appointees are not the least bit effective at riding two thoroughbred horses at the same time.

The recent survey conducted by the Civil Society Organization called Odekro[sic] objectively and scientifically established beyond any shadow of a doubt that some 63-percent of the MPs who also double as ministers and deputy-ministers of state were decidedly AWOL when it came to regular parliamentary attendance and active participation in legislative proceedings. Now, that is something for the Kumasi-Suame NPP-MP to seriously ponder, if he desires to keep his political career in the foreseeable future.

*Visit my blog at: kwameokoampaahoofe.wordpress.com Ghanaffairs

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., PhD

English Department, SUNY-Nassau

Garden City, New York

January 9, 2019

E-mail: okoampaahoofe@optimum.net

Columnist: Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.