A former Speaker of Parliament, Mr Peter Ala Adjetey, has called on political parties to establish well resourced research departments to provide the electorate with well thought out policies and programmes to assist them to make informed choices.
“Political parties do not attain vibrancy by shouting and throwing around empty and meaningless slogans. Since they compete for the minds of the electorate who have to exercise a choice between the policies of different political parties, well thought out policies borne out of painstaking research should be placed before them to enable them to make informed choices,” he said.
Mr Ala Adjetey, who was delivering the keynote address at a two-day meeting between the chairmen of Ghanaian political parties and their Togolese counterparts in Accra, said most party organisers were not even aware of their parties' policy on education, health, industrialisation, general economic policy and modernisation of agriculture because their parties did not have policy papers on such issues.
The meeting, which was organised by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA-Ghana), a public policy institute, in collaboration with The Netherlands Institute for Multi-party Democracy, was on the theme, “Political parties as vibrant actors in a multi-party democracy”.
The Ghanaian political parties which took part in the meeting were the New Patriotic Party (NPP), the National Democratic Congress (NDC), the People's National Convention (PNC), the Convention People's Party (CPP) and the Democratic Freedom Party (DFP). Togo was represented by its five main political parties, including the ruling party.
The former Speaker of Parliament was of the view that if political parties failed to discharge that duty to the voters, they should not be surprised if, from time to time, voters took decisions which seemed to fly in the face of political and economic logic, adding that “the parties have only themselves to blame for not making it possible for the voters to make informed choices”.
He also mooted the idea of political parties within the West African sub-region exchanging research findings and programmes to achieve their aims so long as no political party tried to interfere directly or indirectly in the politics of another country.
He argued that Ghana and its neighbouring countries were one people who were only separated by artificial boundaries fixed by the European metropolitan powers at the Berlin Conference held towards the end of the 19th century and which bore no relation to social, cultural and other realities.
Mr Ala Adjetey said face-to-face personal discussions among political party leaders on the basis of matters of common interest would create an atmosphere to facilitate regional integration.
He added that it was important that foot soldiers or organisers at various levels were equipped with materials on which they could interact with the public in the struggle to win over their minds.
Mr Ala Adjetey said that would require that all political parties should have programmes on educating and training their organisers and other officers on the parties' policies and ideological and theoretical underpinnings to enable them to operate effectively.
Concerning funding for the research departments of the political parties, he suggested that since the parties were not resourced financially, the rule against foreigners contributing to political parties be looked at again to permit such contributions to be made to a non-political and independent organisation which could make the funds available to the political parties.
The Chairman for the occasion, Brigadier General Francis A. Agyemfra, described the past relations between Ghana and Togo as “cat-and-mouse relations characterised by war-war” and added that the two countries spent almost 40 years wasting resources on chasing after shadow resources which could have otherwise been used profitably in alleviating poverty.
He was grateful that the two countries had put the past behind them for the common good of their people, adding, “It is now the task of the leadership of political parties which are the centres of powerful influence to move the two countries forward.”
Story by Donald Ato Dapatem