Why are Ghanaian politicians so wicked?

Tue, 10 Dec 2013 Source: Bokor, Michael J. K.

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

Folks, one major pitfall in our contemporary politics is that the Executive branch, as constructed under the 1992 Constitution is too over-rated.

A major drawback of our constitutional democracy is the enormous powers vested in the President by the 1992 Constitution, especially concerning the appointment of public office holders.

The President is enjoined to appoint such office holders (sometimes on the advice of the Council of State and other times using his own discretion).

If we are complaining about laxity in our system, especially regarding negative tendencies such as cronyism and nepotism, we shouldn’t go far to know why.

If the Constitution invests the President with such enormous powers to put in office those he thinks can help him do his work, but we (the ordinary citizens whose mandate has put the President in office) have no means to restrain abuse of that concession, where is the guarantee that we are part of the process toward refining governance in the country?

Oftentimes, arguments have been raised that the sweeping powers given the President don’t help us run affairs properly. Already, some are complaining that President Mahama has appointed those of Northern Ghana extraction to numerous positions in his government, turning the system upside down and privileging nepotism.

The complaints used to be against Rawlings for privileging Ewes, and Kufuor for running a government of Asante cronies. Ex-President Mills was written off as effeminate or malleable and appointing people to positions of trust who eventually turned out to clip his wings. I have the Ahwoi brothers in mind.

Yes, and the President has enormous powers to that extent. It is assumed that once the President has his allies in positions of trust, they will dance to the tune that he calls. It is nothing new.

The Judiciary has come up for special mention in this regard. Some claim that the judges cannot rule against the one appointing them. Of course, they may have their reasons. Who appoints all these judges? Who determines their emoluments and conditions of service? Not the President?

Parliament may have an oversight responsibility, but in our situation where the winner-takes-all arrangement in general elections allows the party in government to control Parliament, rubber-stamping of anything from the Presidency (including the annual budget and fiscal statement) isn't strange. Parliament readily endorses all that the President does or forwards to it for ratification. Remember that the Constitution even provides that two-thirds of Ministerial appointments should come from Parliament. What a lousy way to rule a country?

Parliamentarians with an eye to juicy Ministerial appointments will always speak well of the Executive in order to catch the eyes of the President to be uplifted and given an appointment to join the Executive and eat both ways—from Parliament (as an MP) and the Executive (as a Minister/Deputy Minister).

How can we be so narrow-minded as not to know where we are pushing ourselves---into a tight corner to feed our politicians in more than one way and make it difficult for them to be loyal: how can they function in Parliament to challenge the Executive that they are an integral part of?

Our system of governance based on this constitution is useless; yet nobody is doing anything to help us solve the basic problems so we can “unshackle” ourselves and move on smoothly as other countries do.

Can we wonder why nobody is even revisiting the work of the Constitutional Review Commission whose recommendations ex-President Mills accepted piecemeal for implementation? What has become of the government's white paper on the recommendations that Mills accepted for implementation?

Why is it that nobody is any more interested in constitutional review? The hard fact is that even those pressing for the Transitional Provisions to be nullified so Rawlings could be brought to back have now abandoned that cause because they have reached a dead-end in their agitations.

The system seems to be so configured as not to cater to their demands; and what else should they do but recoil into their shells, where they faintly complain about the inadequacies of the system but won’t anymore play any frontline role in seeking reforms?

It is the usual Ghanaian thing. Yet, these elements can’t stop seething within with anger at what is happening in the country. They are chafing and biding their time in the vain hope that when the pendulum swings in their favour, they will unleash all the venom that they have been storing all these years.

Then, the cycle of do-me-I-do-you runs at full throttle to worsen our plight as a nation. It is painful to realize that Ghanaian politics can be reduced to this narrow scope of lousiness. Meantime, those who know how to outwit the system, live fat on the benefits while the majority of the people languish in want, squalor, and disease—all ending in a painful death!

Why are Ghanaian politicians so wicked?

I shall return…

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Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.