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25.06.2020 Feature Article

Seats For Sale

Seats For Sale
LISTEN JUN 25, 2020

“Honorable, I am sorry I did not vote for you. I am so ashamed of myself, please forgive me. You see, honorable, it was not my fault. Just before I stepped out of the house to go and vote for you, the other candidate accosted me, and he gave me 3, 000, 00 cedis to vote for him. The other candidate too (name withheld) gave me 2,000, 00.

...Even the other contestant gave me a bag of rice, a piece of cloth, and 1, 000, 00 cedis. You see, you have a lot of goodwill and support. You also have all the skills and potential, but the money was small. This is not your time. Your time will surely come. Please don't give up…”

The imperial prominence of mammon in the NPP primaries forebode a new assault on our democracy, an indubitable annexation of our democratic practice by the highest political bidder. Not that “moneycracy” is a new phenomenon in Ghanaian politics. What is new is the blatant, audacious, unbashful manner money is doled out in broad daylight to delegates on the streets, in the queue, on the compound, by the byways, highways, and every way irrespective of who is present or who is watching.

Did you hear the report that a disappointed candidate went back to the delegates to try to retrieve bicycles he gave them as part of the mobilization towards his failed coronation? Some other losing candidates too have asked delegates to return moneys they took ostensibly in exchange for their votes, but failed to keep their promise.

Please don't laugh, but I chanced upon a message that a delegate sent to a defeated candidate the other day. At least he thought it was proper to apologize to the disappointed honorable for not voting for him. His good conscience was still in his possession. Now here is a piece of that lovely letter of apology:

“Honorable, I am sorry I did not vote for you. I am so ashamed of myself, please forgive me. You see, honorable, it was not my fault. Just before I stepped out of the house to go and vote for you, the other candidate accosted me, and he gave me 3, 000, 00 cedis to vote for him. The other candidate too (name withheld) gave me 2,000, 00. Even the other contestant gave me a bag of rice, a piece of cloth, and 1, 000, 00 cedis. You see you have a lot of goodwill and support. You also have all the skills and potential, but the money was small. This is not your time. Your time will surely come. Please don't give up…”

I am not completely unaware of the fact that in many jurisdictions, winning or losing an election imposes some astronomical financial obligations on candidates. However, because of the sumptuous cost involved in running for public office, it is almost inconceivable to embark on an electioneering campaign (whether local or national) without raising funds for the enterprise. Fundraising is therefore a critical part of the campaign. Let's say money is the obvious enabler, a facilitator, enhancer, and major contributor to successful elections.

In most of those jurisdictions, therefore, the law allows open, transparent, internal fundraising and sponsorship programs subject to existing rules. This provision ensures that candidates test their eligibility for the office through their fundraising appeal.

This arrangement is sensible for several reasons. First, because the office being contested for is a public office, contestants are allowed to raise their own funds without making direct demands on the public purse.

Secondly, being able to raise funds show the candidate's creativity and ability to find resources to improve and develop his or her community. It is easier to vote for a candidate who shows dexterity, flexibility, and resourcefulness in raising money for his campaign than a helpless candidate who cannot match the financial demands of the campaign.

Nor is this all. Success at raising funds for public elections enable the candidates to measure and test their public appeal and approval and for that matter their chances at winning the polls.

It is lugubrious that some of the politicians who corrupt our socio-political system are the same people who get to Parliament to draft our laws. What is keeping us from practicing what transpires in civilized democracies to halt the obscene sales of seats to the highest bidder in our constituencies?

So for how much was your constituency mortgaged?

Theodore Dzeble
Theodore Dzeble, © 2020

The author has 16 publications published on Modern Ghana.Column: TheodoreDzeble

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

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