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Politics | Dec 7, 2004

EDITORIAL: Skirt And Blouse the Quintessence of Democracy

Ghanaian Chronicle

As any Ghanaian child will tell you, democracy is a government of the people, by the people, for the people. It is a system of governance in which everybody is free to elect a representative to fight for his interests at the highest level of government.

All over Ghana, today is the day when every eligible voter can decide with his thumb, who rules Ghana for the next four years as the President and Commander-in-Chief. They can also choose who shall represent them in Parliament and help make laws and regulations that meet their interests.

The Chronicle urges all citizens not to lose this great opportunity to make the power of their vote come to life. Every true Ghanaian should go out there and cast his vote. And in exercising that right, they should vote the way their conscience directs them, no more, no less.

The latest political development that is sweeping our political landscape: "skirt and blouse" began in Cape Coast and given currency by The Chronicle's consistent coverage of this exciting new creative phenomenon. We are proud that somehow, we helped to propagate the concept. In its simplest sense, it means voting for a party's presidential candidate and voting for the opposing parliamentary candidate or vice versa.

And it all began from Cape Coast where the reported arrogance and intransigence of the incumbent Member of Parliament (MP), Ms. Christine Churcher, led to serious infighting within the NPP in the Central Region.

Many party members there felt that even if she won the primary to run again as MP, they would vote against her and vote for President Kufuor. This development so alarmed the President that he was obliged to go to Cape Coast and plead with the party faithful not to vote in that manner.

However, voting "skirt and blouse" is to us one sure way of demonstrating our growing understanding of democracy and our political maturity. We dare to say that voters should be bold enough to disregard the President's admonition not to vote "skirt and blouse." President Kufuor is himself a master politician, who does not hesitate to do what is politically expedient, for him and his party.

A few months ago, His Excellency the President gave a clear manifestation of this phenomenon when he urged the people of Ellembelle in the Western Region to vote for Hon. Freddie Blay, a member of the opposition CPP, because he is a good and worthy representative of the constituency.

He added, most conveniently, that the people should vote for him, an NPP man for the presidency and not George Aggudey.

e moved over to next door Nzema East and repeated the same admonition. In raising the hands of Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom in the face of stiff opposition from Mr. Ato Arthur, the DCE and NPP parliamentary aspirant for KEEA and legions of top NPP officials, including general secretary Dan Botwe and D. K. Osei Kufuor, His Excellency himself gave the clearest signal of the wisdom in sending the most competent person to parliament to bat for the constituency's interest.

Clearly, when it suits their own agenda, then it is fine. When the pendulum shifts the other way, then it becomes an anathema. As Ghana's democracy deepens and the good people of this country strive to iron out the quirks and folds in it, all is done in good faith, for the betterment of Mother Ghana.

The Chronicle reiterates that every responsible citizen must treasure this powerful right to choose who should represent them both at Parliament and at the Castle. Voting "skirt and blouse," to us, is the beauty of democracy and nobody should be deceived that it is a betrayal, far from it. It simply shows that the common man, the average man on the street, has now become aware that whoever he chooses, must be somebody who would go out there and fight for his rights.

But we make bold to tell our fellow countrymen that a Member of Parliament is NOT supposed to bring development to his area per se. Indeed, under the District Assembly concept of Local Government, the people should focus single-mindedly on the District Chief Executive and the District Assembly to engender development in their districts. That is why such huge amounts of money are given them, anyway.

The Chronicle believes the whole system of giving the MP a share of the Common Fund must be reviewed in the next Parliament. It has, to our view, helped in the continuing distraction of the people's expectations.

Our MPs have had to deal with problems they are not equipped or resourced enough to solve, thus making them come under unnecessary pressure.

Let every qualified Ghanaian go out there and cast their vote, for whoever they wish. Such is the beauty of democracy.

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