Whatever happens on Sunday 7th December 2008, there is going to be change in Ghana. Whether the change will be real or not will depend on the perceptions of Ghanaians as to where we should be heading as a country and which party can get us there.
Let me start by talking about the Parliamentary elections, the one that I consider to be the most important if we are to continue with a deepening of our multiparty democratic dispensation.
Parliament is expected to be the highest authority in the land in making the laws of the country and with respect to approving budgets that are set by government. In the Parliamentary system in the UK, parliament is not only the highest lawmaking authority but part of parliament acts as the executive. In the US, the House of Representatives and the Senate are required to make law and the executive president has the role of governing the country. In the Ghanaian system we have a hybrid system where members of parliament are allowed to be part of the executive.
The difficulty for us to date is that since 1992, the Presidents party has always had the largest majority in parliament. To a large extent this makes parliament more of a rubber stamping authority than a lawmaking authority and challenges the objectivity and independence of our parliament. Two ways of making parliament more independent and more relevant would be to a) transform parliament into a solely lawmaking authority with no executive responsibility and b) vote tactically so that he who wins the presidency will not have the majority in parliament.
So we need to strengthen parliament by getting parliamentarians who have no wish to govern, but who are more interested in representing the voice of their constituents in making good laws for country and helping to ensure that there is law and order in our country and that there are sufficient institutions including civil society institutions that support this our new found democracy.
My challenge to Ghanaians therefore is to be conscious of who they vote for to represent them in parliament – they must not only vote with their consciences to elect a better balanced parliament that will deliver for the people and provide the scrutiny necessary to curb the excesses of a powerful executive presidency. Sadly during both the Rawlings and Kufour periods parliament has not been able to rise to the challenge and there is a real need to strengthen parliament to make it more representative of the people it represents.
My hope is that at this election parliament is more evenly balanced and the numbers of third party representatives would be higher – my party of choice however should be given an opportunity by the Ghanaian people for the tireless and serious way in which they have worked on this election.
An evenly balanced parliament will represent real change in Ghanaian politics.
Though there are many candidates in the presidential elections – there are really only three choices that are available to the Ghanaian people.
* A negative passive choice
* A do nothing neutral choice and
* A positive active choice
Passive change – Atta Mills NDC
A passive choice will involve picking some who may not be able to govern the country because he has too many powerful people breathing down his shoulder and watching his every move even to the extent of suggesting what new moves he makes and what he considers to be priority.
It will be a negative choice because the candidate had an opportunity to transform the economy and social fabric but was unable because we are told there were others more powerful who did not listen. This person comes from the same party that introduced as to the heady days of structural adjustment and that eventually in our government going for HIPC. This person was not first choice; others had come before him and though he is very measured and also very nice, he lacks the fire in his belly to make any real change to the country. What has been instructive in this campaign is that he has once again demonstrated that he cannot win an election and in the last minutes of the campaign they have unleashed unto the poor people of Ghana the full power of the founder of their party who has general appeal to the mass of Ghanaians despite founding one of the most elitist parties in the country.
A choice for this candidate will also leave us in the most uncertain of states and may actually push the country to a state of instability as they try to undo all the the present government has initiated to prove that their policies are different. For me it is this fear of vindictiveness of return the country back to the days when power was more important than office that makes me conclude that the country is better off without Atta Mills as head of state. It will signify a return to the past days of all that went wrong with Ghana.
Neutral Change – Nana Akuffo-Addo NPP
The other choice – the neutral choice is for the country to do nothing and return the NPP presidential candidate to power. This will not be change at all because it is unlikely that they will not follow the failed policies of their party that has led to untold suffering in Ghana especially amongst the poor.
Ghanaians need a change from the old ways of cronyism and the exclusion of a large mass of people from contributing and participating in economic and social development in our country. There is no indication that more people will be included; another win will make them even more arrogant and lead them to believe that all the bad things that they are doing are actually welcomed by the electorate. Much in the same way that in 2000 some of us advocated for change from the NDC to the NPP for the sake of testing the democratic maturity in our country, this time round we now think that enough is enough. There has been nothing refreshing in their approach to resolving the real problems of development in our country. We shall get more of the same and I really think that the people of Ghana cannot afford this choice of non-change.
Positive Change - Papa Kwesi Nduom CPP
This leads us to why the only choice is really the choice about active positive change for our country.
We started looking at this election from the point of view of how well a third party would perform. At this time last year there were talks about talks about whether the Nkrumaist parities will all come together to fight this election. That did not happen but there is really only one candidate from the Nkrumaist flock.
I have been pleasantly surprised by what the CPP flag bearer has achieved in this short period of campaigning for the post of the highest office, his sheer hard work has been overwhelming and the revelation of this campaign has shown that he is the only one that has a strategy for the campaign and a strategy for the development of Ghana.
It was clear at the presidential debates that he was the most inventive, innovative and the most pragmatic who has the interest of the country at heart and was prepared to work with everyone to achieve the lofty objectives of transforming Ghana into a high income country.
The issues that he has raised in this campaign have been issues that have resonated with the people of Ghana and have shown an ability to prioritise issues without seeking to make political capital of the fact the he is the most capable of the lot.
His plan for the country has been well thought through and crystallised into action points that have articulated all over the country.
* There is a vision for Ghana, a vision to transform the country into a high income country
* This can only be achieved if the people of Ghana are given the power to take charge of their own development and if ordinary people are empowered to take responsibility for their actions
* Good laws are required for development so parliament must be made independent and strengthened so that they are bold enough to make the good laws that we require for growth
* There was a time when our country was known for excellent education – education is the first base of development. Development and growth will not happen without quality education
* We also need energy for development so we will explore all the different forms of how energy will be harness for development. We will transform the oil find into the most developed petrochemical centre in Africa and the world. We will be energy reliant and use it for development
* A cleaner environment and better health care will provide a higher standard of living and better quality of life for Ghana and this can be achieved based on the policies for a distributed system of health care delivery
* We will attack the insidious drugs trade and deal with corruption by been open and transparent in government with policies that can be policed and implemented
* And most importantly the power of the state will be used to create jobs for all because development and growth do not depend on done deals but on jobs and production by the people. Young Ghanaians are crying out for real jobs and that is what will be provided
So as we go to the polls on Sunday, I call on the people of Ghana to vote for the Sunday born Papa Kwesi Ndoum.
The task ahead is not going to be easy and we need a safe pair of hands to ensure that we are on a positive direction that will get us out of the mess. We cannot afford a negative or neutral change.
Ghanaians deserve real change – change that you can feel in your pockets and change the will bring jobs to the country
The CPP has been energised and the CPP is ready for government. The red cockerel is ready at the crack of dawn to herald in a new vision for Ghana
Forwards Ever, Backwards Never!
Nkrumah never dies
Ade Sawyerr is partner in Equinox Consulting, a management consultancy providing consultancy, training and research that focuses on strategies for black and ethnic minority, disadvantaged and socially excluded communities. He also comments on political, economic and social, and development issues. He is a member of thenkrumaistforum. He can be contacted through www.equinoxconsulting.net or email him at [email protected]