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Opinions Thu, 26 Nov 2015

Well done ND… but can the young fight the siege?

The much anticipated NDC primaries took place successfully on Saturday and one thing was emphasized; the democracy that the sages of old fought for is under a siege —a siege of financial autocracy (moneycracy). The fine values that form the tenets of democracy are bowing to things that destroy nations: the voters, particularly those in rural areas do not care about leadership qualities such as true service. In some constituencies, voters still have little regard for education and how such credentials can aid parliamentary work and enhance the political career of candidates. As though they are bond buyers, electorates only care about the ‘creditworthiness’ of candidates. As we are advocating for visionary leaders at the local governance level, it breaks my heart to hear voters say, “Oh! He is good but he doesn’t have money”.

When the NDC expanded its electoral college some political watchers thought that candidates would not be able to bribe voters again and that the system would be more open and transparent. Indeed many of the party members participated in the exercise but it turns out rather sadly, that this projection is flawed. Corruption is a Ghanaian delicacy that is why voters are not the least ashamed of selling their consciences and the candidates too, especially the insecure ones, are not afraid to buy their ways to parliament. Even though I have not participated in the process, I have heard many candidates complain of the financial weight the expansion of the electoral college came with. In my constituency where the former parliamentary candidate is reported to have spent GH100,000 on his campaign in 2011, the new candidate is reported to have spent about GH600,000, as he is an underdog in the contest , to pave way for his endorsement. What at all is in the ‘Chinese parliament’ for a candidate to spend so much in parliamentary primaries just to serve his or her people—or am I being naïve?

This phenomenon is burying the republic deeper in the suffocating hands of ‘poli-preneurs’ ( aristocrats and financiers) who are only interested in the business side of politics and not the people’s welfare.

If events characterizing the primaries are anything to go by then one can safely say that election 2016 is going to be dangerous; voters may reward the biggest bidder instead of evaluating issues at stake, and this further raises concerns about whether government will honour its promise of staying within its 2016 budget.

The Fight against Corruption

The election of young people was expected by some of us who are happy with similar occurrence in the NPP. The electorates ,by fate or chance, have skewed toward young people, who have enormous exuberance, to run the 2016 election campaign. The likes of Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, Yaw Boabeng, and Anthony Karbo are going to clash with Alhassan Suhyini, Eric Don Authur, and Sam Dzata George while Adzoa Sarfo and Francisca Mensah will face off Dr. Zanetor and Jocelyn Tetteh respectively. I hope you can imagine the energy? These young men and women with all the exuberance are going to make election 2016 campaigns very interesting.

Even though I believe that young people in politics come with huge creativity, I also have a fear; a fear that these men and women may not endure the pressures of political corruption. Loans that were secured for campaigns have to be amortized and investment towards the next elections will be running parallel with amortization of the previous loans. Pressures from constituents for basic needs and school fees will soon start, not to talk of the demand for developmental works. I used to joke with one aspirant that the title HONOURABLE literally means “bring something”. But how much is the salary of members of parliament or their share of the common fund to be meeting all these needs without taking some kickbacks here and there?

In any case, do these young people have the courage to speak against “gargantuan corruptions’’ amidst fierce opposition from power brokers and financiers? My observation is that many of the anti-corruption campaigners in politics are people who have seen it all and do not have so much to lose. Mention P.C. Appiah Ofori, Alban Bagbin, Martin Amidu, these are men who have worked through the thick of politics and have held various political offices and so can call the bluff of power brokers and even presidents. Young people on the other hand are now starting a career in politics and their successes in politics depend on the financiers (I mean the greedy bustards) of their parties. I am not in any way suggesting that young people cannot turn this nation around but a self-perpetuating system coupled with insatiable avarice of ‘poli-preneurs’ and voters alike is likely to weaken the efforts of genuine people in politics.

Frederick K. Kofi Tse

(kelikofi@gmail.com)

Columnist: Tse, Frederick K. Kofi