20.06.2016 Feature Article

Alleged Bribery: The President’s Careless Act Fits Ghana’s Clogged Constitutional Setup; It Is Also Time To Deal With Political Party Financing

President John Dramani MahamaPresident John Dramani Mahama
20.06.2016 LISTEN

It is understandable to express outrage at the alleged bribery scandal involving the President. He is the doyen of accountability and so any infractions perceived or real dents the image of the government and country. However, we must focus on two important matters going forward.

First, it is important to appreciate that the constitutional democracy we operate gives the Presidency enormous powers and the government setup, a very centralized one, allows indiscriminate access to the President making him susceptible to influence. Sadly, this is Africa, where every village chief, fetish priest, linguist who dies, have their sympathizers and subjects wanting to ‘officially’ inform and invite the President to the funeral. We need to revisit our progress towards full decentralization of power and ownership of resources.

Second, this incident raises the question about political party funding in Ghana. I vehemently disagree that parties must be funded through taxes for the simple reason that we will have a deluge of mushroom parties with lazy adventurers as leaders all feeding large on the state. It would have become the best but unwise way of paying a welfare cheque to persons who are unemployable or have no clue how to create employment. I will only yield to the idea, except of course, that these parties exhibit some superb ideas on how to rake in more productive revenue for the state through smart thinking and not overburdening persons with odious taxes. But that is expecting too much from short terminism that has characterized majority of our political parties’ focus.

In any case, these political parties boast of having millions of followers anytime they want to convey some of their core messages. And, yet, how often do you hear or see these teeming millions donate or pay dues to their parties? It is not because they are unwilling to pay, it is because the party leadership is not interested in building the structures that allow for the million members to pay their small coins and cents. Secondly, political party leadership do not want to be challenged by serious minded members who feel outraged about party decisions, just because they pay a miserly due of Ghc5 Ghana cedis or less.

So, you see your party leadership will rather cater to special interest groups and crony capitalists who have the big dollars. I have seen many documents from foreign official accountability bureaus showing the leadership of our major political parties literally beg and engage lobbyists to raise campaign funds for them and we never ever know the source of such funding.

So, let us all get angry by all means at any incidents of corruption, real or perceived, but let's begin to ask our political party leadership to ask us to help them. Imagine if all these millions of members the two major parties command contributed even Ghc 2 each towards campaigns? But will that happen? Can it happen? Perhaps that is what the Social Contract is about- a fee paying citizenry and a prudent leadership. For this to happen, political parties must show us how they intend to build prosperous lives and futures that will make us donate more and better towards their activities. But keep thinking think think think!

Franklin Cudjoe is IMANI Africa’s Founding Pres​id​ent and CEO