The nature of political activism in Ghana gives the political parties the leeway to properly account for their choices and the political decisions they make. Political accountability seems to be a “mythical” creature as to be almost nonexistent some years past.
The social contract between the citizenry and the political elites and their parties, demands appropriate accountability for the use of the power, resources, and the function entrusted to them by the populace.
The yardstick for measuring the performance of these parties are the items in their manifestos. Alas, many of the voters do not understand the items in the vision statements, the manifestos, of the parties and this is making the demand for accountability weighty.
The political parties have the leniency to use the media: radio, television, and other social media platforms to demonstrate the achievement of their manifesto items. The current government took advantage of a town hall meeting to illustrate, to the people of Ghana, the aspects of the manifesto items delivered. But the populace does not verify these claims from what actually takes place, the delivery, and the documented manifesto items. To properly measure the performance of governments, the people of Ghana should be able to practically track manifesto items that are delivered to them.
Accountability takes place when individuals reliably deliver on their promises, showing others they can be trusted. Political leaders need to demonstrate accountability by taking responsibility for the outcomes of their actions and decisions successfully by transforming effort into results.
For political accountability to properly take shape in reality, governments, civil servants, and politicians need to show responsibility to the public and a legislative body like parliament.
The President, from time to time, in the state of the nation address, outlines the achievements or successes of his government with reference to the manifesto items. Yet, it does not provide adequate grounds for proper accountability. MMDCEs and grassroots executives essentially must establish platforms to demonstrate the successful utilization of the resources and the political offices held on behalf of the masses.
The media and the citizens should be able to identify parties’ manifesto items and track them in order to critically assess the performance of governments. Many of the people do not have the academic capacities to understand and critique the real results or performance of the parties in government. The media as education too, must inform the populace about the levels of success of governments with regard to manifesto promises.
Civil Societies advise governments on best practices and choices as well as cause them to adequately account for their choices on behalf of the people. Their works often receive political tags and colourings which are uncalled for. These are independent agencies that serve as “institutional watchdogs” in the country. These institutions require to continuously pressure governments to act within acceptable limits in delivering their promises.
The politicians must strive, with honesty, to give the factual evidence and information about their stewardship. If the people have the capacity to track the items in the manifestos of the parties and what is actually delivered, the politician cannot take the people for granted. In our setting, accountability is taken lightly because it is not a deciding factor in our elections for some years now.
People often cast their votes for a particular candidate based on; their love for the person, love for the party, academic qualification of the person and the eloquence of the candidate. In such a situation, the performance of the candidate is not superior to any other element. To deal with trust issues, the voters need to establish the trustworthiness of the individual to be voted for.
Parties and individuals who keep to their campaign promises and deliver such promises excellently need to have their mandate renewed. Poor performers should be sanctioned by revoking the power given to them.
Civil Societies and the media should create platforms for the citizens to adequately demand accountability from the politicians as well as the politicians being given the opportunity to demonstrate the extent of achievement of their promises captured in their manifestos. The pronouncement of the success or failure of a government does not lie in the mouth of the parties’ Communicators. The voters should be able to determine with ease, the success or failure of a government by tracking manifesto items.
Before every election, the political party in power and others that have been in government, need to create a platform, not only town hall meetings, to show the specific promises in their manifesto and how they are delivered with honesty. The political system has changed fundamentally such that there is an imposition of the demand for accountability on governments. The parties need to validate what they promised and what they delivered or are delivering. The media together with Civil Societies need to help the voters to develop a framework to assess the performance of a government as there is the need for political accountability.
Emmanuel Kwabena Wucharey
Economics Tutor, A growing Activist, and A Religion Enthusiast.