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Re-visiting Colonel I K Achampong’s (Unigov)?

Fri, 11 Jul 2014 Source: Ofori Ampofo

The Institute of Economic Affairs (I E A) is one of the respected institutions in Ghana. Without doubt, it has played a major role in the Democratic development in the advent of the 4th republican Constitution of Ghana. It is therefore not by accident, that it constituted a committee to look into the so-called winner takes all issue of our politics and make recommendations to the Constitutional review committee.

As it was published on Ghanaweb July 3, the findings were published after meeting and consulting major stakeholders and some other important personalities. In consulting with Professor Kwasi Botchwey, the former Minister for Finance and Economic Planning during the Military PNDC era, made known his views which appeared on Ghana web on July 4th general news. Quote, “Professor Kwesi Botchwey, a leading member of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), has called for cohesion among the various political parties, in order to accelerate development.

He said, the winner-takes-all system of government which is currently being practiced, has resulted in polarizing of the nation, and there is the need to adopt a system of government that would promote cohesion among the various political parties.”

Prof. Botchwey made the call when members of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) Winner-Takes-All (WTA) Advisory Committee, paid a courtesy call on him at his office in Accra.

The visit was to seek the opinion of Prof Botchwey on whether he supports the call for the abolishing of the Winner-Takes-All system of government, as espoused in the Committee’s document.

‘He said, the winner-takes-all system of government as enshrined in the 1992 Constitution, has always led to the exclusion of the losing parties, which tend to affect the acceleration of development.”

In the first place, the accelerated development that Prof Botchwey talked about, does not happen just by the inclusiveness of losing political parties into Government. No! It happens when a National development Plan is evolved, and when there are workable systems in place to check corruption, abuses of executive and political power, punishing economic criminals, and above all, sensibly and judiciously applying the resources of the country to provide at least basic necessities of life for the citizenry.

Secondly, I am wondering what sort of cohesion that Prof Botchwey wants to see between two or three political Parties with different political ideologies and manifestos. Prof. Kwasi Botchwey believe knows that there is political polarization and animosity in every constitutional democratic dispensation even in countries where democracy really works.

However, when it comes to discussing the business of state, both sides most of the time, work to get issues resolved in consensus. They understand why they are there, and what they are there to achieve for the country and not for themselves. The opposite is what we see in our various arms of Governance. If Prof. Kwasi Botchwey wants, all-inclusiveness in Governance, why is it that the PNDC took offence against BA Mensah when he presented a paper to them to review the IMF recommended Structural Adjustment Programme as it affected Ghanaian businesses? The PNDC consequently clandestinely orchestrated the seizure of BA Mensah’s International Tobacco Gh. Ltd. and sold it to SSNIT and Rothmans King Size of London.

The gradual collapse of Ghana politically and economically dates back Prof. Botchwey’s watch as Finance and Economic planning Minister. As a learned Professor, why didn’t he recommend then, for a National development document instead of political party manifestos? How does he think the western world develop their countries and economies?

He knows that even on the floor of our Parliament, both sides see each other as diametrically opposite to the other. All issues of State are debated and voted for or against, on party lines except when it comes to discussions that are of economic interest to both sides, like ex-gratia. That is the only time they reason together.

Kofi Atta of Cambridge UK, in a summary on the same issue, on 4th July on Ghana web, wrote wisely and I quote”( With the NDC and NPP in Ghana seeing each other as arch enemies, plotting and scheming to undo each other for no other purpose than gaining executive or political power, how do the committee expect them to enter into a workable coalition government, can anyone take a guess. What Ghanaians would end up with under this recommendation is a coalition government that argues over everything and anything and achieves nothing. A coalition government that the junior partners could scheme to undermine and sabotage the majority partner just for the sake of replacing them in government at the next elections is the route to political and economic instability that would lead to social upheavals in Ghana.)”

It appears to me that the winner takes all issue is not about the winning Political Party or the Executive considering political appointments from all losing political parties or not. The winner takes all issue is in my opinion, the situation where Executive appointments are mostly and largely made base on tribal and ethnic lines. That is what we must find a constitutional provision to address. The fact that a particular region does not vote to secure parliamentary candidates for a particular political party, does not mean that, that region or district does not deserve a fair share of appointments or development.

In most part of our political history except under Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah, 50-70% of all executive appointments have always been from the President’s area. That is evident under John Mahama’s presidency today. That is serious! And that is what breeds discontentment amongst other tribes in Ghana. I believe every political party will have qualified persons to make ministerial and executive appointments regionally balanced, if such provision is entrenched within the 1992 Constitution. The Constitution has given too much power to one man, the President to do what he likes and he makes majority appointments from his region, tribe or area.

The President is always the winner and he takes all. Nkabom aban was rejected over 30 years ago, in a referendum, under Colonel I K Achampong. The IEA must not advocate for it today. We must think beyond that.

Columnist: Ofori Ampofo