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Opinions Fri, 13 Feb 2009

Multi-Party democracy: How it should be in Ghana

MULTI-PARTY DEMOCRACY: HOW IT SHOULD BE IN GHANA.

This is a suggestion worth considering by all who have the interest of the whole of Ghana at heart. This has been designed to be non-partisan as possible, and some of the reasons for any unusual proposition will be stated. It is very important to note that this is only a sketch, and your suggestions, be it critical or appraisal will help develop this layman’s idea. The system consists of the following bodies or arms of government:

1) THE SUPREME COUNCIL OF STATE (SCS),

2) POLITICAL PARTIES,

3) LOCAL GOVERNMENT,

4) THE JUDICIARY, and

5) THE MEDIA.

1) The SUPREME COUNCIL of STATE (SCS) will be made up of both elected and un-elected citizens. You can suggest which kind of people to constitute this body once you know my proposed function for it. They will act as the board of governors and trustees on behalf of the people of Ghana. The SCS will be responsible for drawing up and reviewing a long term Developmental Plan for Ghana. They will also be responsible for setting achievable targets for a ruling political party. (This will be understood more under Political Parties in the next paragraph). The SCS will also evaluate the ruling party to determine their performance, hence their term of office. This body will also be responsible for investigating corruption and abuse of office allegations against any political party (in or out of power), and possible legal action on behalf of the people of Ghana. This body will not be full-time. It will meet only a few times in a year, and should be completely independent from all the other bodies. Its remuneration will be determined by the fully elected local government, and not by the president, or a political party. In my opinion as a layman, some of the expects who should be members of this very august body are as follows: The head of the Institute of Economic Affairs, Vice Chancellors, The Audit Commissioner (Auditor General), Head of the Ghana Bar Association, and at least one head from a Ghana based human rights organisation. In this case, the president should not have exclusive right to appoint any of the above positions. The elected members of the Supreme Council of State should be, ten (10), one (1) from each of the ten (10) regions of the country, as is currently done to the council of state. These ten directly elected members would also be the MAYORS of their respective regions. Please make suggestions as to the functions and memberships of this body, and even its name. These members will serve for as long as they are elected as mayors. The experts should also serve for as long as they hold their various offices that propelled them to the SCS.

2) The POLITICAL PARTIES will be formed to exclude the active members of the current mostly tribal and ethnic based parties. How? You help me here. Any suggestions are welcome. I suggest three (3) political parties, which will take turns to run the affairs of the state. They will act as contractors or temporary workers for the people of Ghana, employed by the SCS, our board of governors or trustees. The parties choose their own leader, in accordance to a set criteria, or qualifications, and vetted by the SCS. The chosen leader will be our president when that party assumes office. A party in power will have to work towards set targets, instead of towards winning elections. The targets are set by our board of governors, the SCS, at the start of a term of office. The targets may include GDP, employment, export, school enrolment, inflation, law and order, human rights, food production, health care, etc. They will also propose laws, (legislation), to be debated on by the directly elected local government office holders, (i.e. MCEs, DCEs), and the MAYORS (regionally elected members of the SCS). The parties will also have strong presence in all the regions. A ruling party will appoint a member to each Metropolitan, Municipal or District Assembly. These political appointees will act as liaison officers between the Executive and the Local Assemblies.. This is not an executive position. They will take part in debates and discussions but will have no vote. They will be on the pay roll of the Ministry of Local Government and should not be paid more than the average pay of a headmaster of a local JSS. Very importantly the length of term of office will be determined by the performance of a ruling party. The performance will be measured against the set targets. I propose a standard term length of FIVE (5) years. This means that if a party in power meets the target set for it by the SCS at the start of its term, they rule for 5 years before making way for the next party in line. If at the end of a 5-year standard term, a ruling party performs better than the set targets, it is rewarded by a term extension of 3 years. That party would therefore govern for EIGHT (8) YEARS, before making way for the party in line. If on the other hand, a ruling party is evaluated after two and a half years and predicted to perform less than average, it loses two (2) years. This means that a poor performing party will govern for only THREE (3) years instead of the standard 5. The number of years a party rules determine the pensions of its executives. Their image will also be at stake here. In this Rotational Multi-Party System, a ruling party aims directly at meeting the set targets, (set by the SCS), instead of “painting the opposition black” to the voters. Parties in waiting will not have the need to pull down a party in power. In fact the opposite is the case under this system. A party in line to assume office will wish to take over from a successful government to give them a smooth start. All governments work towards the same long-term grand socio-economic programme for Ghana drawn by the SCS. When political parties are not in power, they will operate as charity clubs, like the Rotary Club, and educate and help the needy in our society.

3) The LOCAL GOVERNMENT system in operation now will be more accountable and sensitive to the people they serve with a handful of changes and additions. Instead of appointed regional ministers, Mayors will be directly elected. These mayors will represent their regions on the Supreme Council of State. This is an executive position. Their election should strictly be non-partisan (that is not between parties but independent individuals). The chief executives of the assemblies, namely the Metropolitan/ Municipal Chief Executives (MCEs), the District Chief Executives (DCEs) must all be directly elected on a non-partisan platform, as opposed to being appointed by a ruling party. A ruling party will be represented by its Party Liaison Officers, (a non executive post), at every assembly.

4) THE JUDICIARY system is very good except the political interference seen under the current political system. I am pretty certain that under this proposed Rotational System where political vendetta and witch hunting is non existent, Presidents will follow the correct laid down procedure to appoint the Chief Justice, and judges to the Supreme Court.

5) Last but not the least is the MEDIA. The media will have an important role as a watchdog. Registered (Professional) Journalists should be given more access to unclassified public information. This will help them accurately inform and educate the general public on the state of our various socio-economic activities. For example, they should have access to infant mortality rate in any hospital; reported crimes in police stations. They should be able to make public controversial activities of public and political office holders without fear of prosecution. They will also be required by the constitution to keep alive all political investigations and prosecutions till their conclusion. Any registered journalist can impeach or indict any member of the SCS on two conditions at the public expense. First, the journalist should have overwhelming evidence of a wrong doing, and secondly the legally binding support of at least five (5) of the ten elected SCS members (the Mayors).

In conclusion this proposed Rotational Political System will ensure meaningful democracy; accountability; continuity; grass root participation; efficiency; lasting peace and above all much needed accelerated development. Respect for our elders and those in authority; which used to be a quintessential part of our diverse culture; will be restored.. It will also eliminate tribal and ethnic tensions; political antagonism; expensive and highly charged presidential and parliamentary elections; no more waste on a politically polarized parliament, and no more cross party collusion on corruption investigations. The presidency also ceases to be a gold mine for greedy and selfish individuals.

You are reminded that your contributions on all aspects of this proposal will go a long way to help with its viability and possible adoption as our Unique System. This will propel Ghana to a new height of respect not only in Africa but the world over.

LONG LIVE GHANA!!

By JohnPaa Kojo Blankson.

Columnist: Blankson, John Paa Kojo