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Opinions Sat, 14 Jul 2018

The monetisation of politics, a threat to Ghana's democracy

Many have argued that, multi-party democracy is the best system of governance. In their proposition, it affords the citizens an opportunity to choose for themselves effective representatives, at every level of the governance structure. It is therefore not surprising that, democracy is the most preferred system of governance in many parts of the world. Indeed, many are willing to lay down their lives in pursuit of this system. Some have even considered democracy to be a major indicator, as far as the measurement of development is concern.

Ghana has been considered the beacon of democracy in Africa. An accolade that is largely due to the country’s ability to organise successive free, fair and transparent elections for over two decades now. Elections that have seen the the fall of governing parties and the rise of opposition parties. The manner in which citizens freely exercise their franchise has caught the admiration of many around the world. As a result, Ghana has become a shining example worthy of emulation.

However, there is a growing trend in the Ghanaian political landscape that clearly defies the cardinal principles of democracy. The increasing monetisation of politics has become a monumental threat to the country’s huge democratic gains. Politicians have resorted to monetary and other material inducement of voters for political advantage. Democratic elections that must be characterise by the contest of ideas, policies and programmes are now being characterised by money sharing and other forms of gifts such as cars, motorbikes, roofing sheets etc. Indeed, it has become a common phenomena, for political opponents to accused each other of vote buying and other unconventional tactics in every electoral process. This unfortunate development does not only rare its ugly head in national politics, but also in the internal politics of political parties.

This monetisation has made politics in Ghana a very expensive enterprise, making it a game for only the wealthy class. According to a research by the Westminster Foundation and the Center for Democratic Development(CDD), ’’it will cost a member of parliament USD$86,000 to secure a party’s primary nomination to compete in a parliamentary elections in the country’’. The report further revealed that, the cost of running for a political office in Ghana went up by nearly 60% over one electoral cycle-between 2012 and 2016.

The consequences of this growing trend are enormous. It rases the question of the sources of such huge sums of monies that are being spent by these politicians. It is significant to note that, it is one of the major factors providing fertile grounds for corruption to grow, becoming so pervasive in the Ghanaian system. Politicians who inject huge sums of money into politics must recoup their ‘investment’ when they are given political power. Other actors who sponsor these politicians are given the license to milk the country dry as a reward for their sponsorship. Indeed, it is the reason why the rich gets richer, whilst the poor gets poorer as argued by William Henry Harrison, the ninth President of the U.S. It is also the reason why hospitals have no beds and ambulances, schools have no teaching materials and the youth have no jobs, because everything has now been politicised and monitised.

In addition, the monetization of politics has denied citizens the right calibar of representation and leadership. Political positions are now being sold to the highest bidder in this open political market, denying competent and committed people, who lacks the financial power, an opportunity to serve. As a result, the system is polluted with many square pegs in round holes. Ghana’s growing democracy will suffer a major set back if this despicable trend is allowed to continue.

It is important for the masses to realised that, they can not allow this trend to continue and still expect the country to move foward in the right direction. But the self-serving politicians will not even contemplate on changing their ways. Therefore, the masses must open their eyes to the political transactions that are going on. This monetisation is only made possible by the indulgence of the voters, they must learn to choose competence and commitment over money and materials. They must realised that, the most powerful asset they have is their conscience, selling that to the politician amounts to selling the soul of the country to the devil.

Columnist: Sayibu Ibrahim Suhuyini