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13.08.2021 Feature Article

Regulating Political Parties

Regulating Political Parties
LISTEN AUG 13, 2021

The NDC has outlined a number of proposals for reorganizing the electoral system of the Electoral Commission of Ghana. The demand for the EC to be split into two is functionally misplaced. Item ten (10) of the proposal is not the constraint for the effective and efficient regulation of parties in Ghana. The focus of any proposal, from a major opposition party, should be on the conduct of Presidential and Parliamentary elections as well as District Assembly Elections. The political parties in Ghana need to exert pressure on the Election Management body to modify its system to run a single election in Ghana.

There should be a discussion on mutual reasons that confluent on having a one-time election for the national and district level representatives. A one-off election conducted by the EC will be cost-saving and help in reducing the fidgety nights EC officials have in conducting elections. The proposal of the major opposition party will increase the spending of the state on EC officials. The creation of a new office to regulate parties will call for the appointment of an individual to lead the new office. There will be an increase in the spending of the government on the individual and the new office to be created.

In this regard, I suggest the EC strengthens its oversight responsibility of the conduct of parties. The EC is already charged to regulate the conduct of parties which it has failed to perform over the years. There is the need for the Management of the EC to evaluate the performance of the institution in the regulation of parties. To the extreme, the state should make one of the deputies, at the EC, the head of the unit in charge of the regulation of parties without necessarily adding cost in hiring new people to man the proposed office.

Yet, political parties in Ghana have never availed themselves of proper scrutiny and regulation. The proposal will not resolve the reluctance of parties to be regulated by the EC. Political party executives are much fully aware of the constitutional provisions of Article 55 (14) a and b which are measures of regulation. None of the parties in Ghana had expressed interest in or ever wished to adhere to the requirements of the constitution that demand political parties declaring their revenues and assets to the public and the sources of such revenues and assets or even publish their audited accounts to the Ghanaian public.

Political parties in Ghana have persistently engaged in “dirty” revenue generation activities for sponsoring campaigns and other political activities. It will be impossible for the EC to have a smooth and effective regulation of the parties in Ghana by merely creating a new office. It is practically faulty to overlook the laws that empower the EC to regulate parties and creating a new office. The EC is practically inactive throughout non-election years and so there is no need to create a new unit which will function like the existing institution.

The compliance of the parties with the existing laws and constitutional provisions is the solution to the regulation challenges of parties in Ghana. The EC should be supported by other institutions to enforce the laws available to it to regulate parties.

The EC too has never tested the laws that give it the regulatory authority to monitor the activities of the political parties in Ghana. The EC has engaged in very relaxed actions that make it complicit in the uncompromising behavior of the parties. The EC can only be effective at regulating the conduct of parties if it recognizes the responsibility imposed on it by the constitution to have a check on the parties in Ghana.

The conduct of parties has been a conduit for scheming corruption and corruption-related activities. So, it is an opportune time for the political parties in Ghana and other institutions including CSOs to engage in deliberations that create a conducive environment for political parties to conduct their affairs fairly, devoid of suspicions.

The political parties in Ghana are currently engrossed in murkier financial activities that undermine their willingness to fight corruption. There is a confidence that much can be achieved in any negotiations that bring the parties together as the NDC take infinite interest in regulation through its proposal.

BY Emmanuel Kwabena Wucharey

Economics Tutor, Advocate and Religion Enthusiast.

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