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10.06.2017 Opinion

Where Are Missing Voices Of Smaller Political Parties?

Koby Asmah
Opinion Where Are Missing Voices Of Smaller Political Parties?
JUN 10, 2017 OPINION

Mother Ghana is deeply wounded from a national crisis that has broken the hearts of many. Ghana was thrown into a state of horror and shock last week Monday when the news of the gruesome lynching of a military officer detailed to Denkyira-Obuasi in the Central Region broke.

Prior to this, the nation, in the past few months, had witnessed rising impunity and lawlessness within the political arena, Political vigilantism and machismo have become a part of our body politic, and some sections of the Ghanaian society are increasingly losing faith in the law enforcers and judiciary system. Mob or instant justice is becoming the order of the day.

We are becoming a nation whose citizens no longer care for one another. One of the security threats facing the nation is also the issue of lack of jobs and for that matter job creation for the teeming and rising numbers of unemployed youth.

Clearly, what is happening in Ghana is scary. So many mind-boggling and bizarre things are happening within the country which demands a pause and reflection as the nation traverses the crossroads.

Missing voices
It is these worrying trends that compel me to ask, about the missing voices of the smaller political parties in this sordid state of affairs. In all of these, it will be prudent to hear the views of the smaller parties and how they proffer solutions to the national canker. What are the views of the smaller parties in job creation, access to health, education, potable water, electricity, infrastructural development, caring for women, children and the vulnerable in society etc.

Our leaders cannot continuously care for us only when it is time for elections. This is definitely not the way to go.

Seasonal political parties
The present trend where the so-called smaller or seasonal political parties go into coma and remain silent after general elections only to show up in the next national election can no longer be countenanced in the effort to deepen and consolidate multi-party democracy.

This is because such undemocratic principles only go to undermine good governance practices.

If Ghana is to consolidate the gains of democracy and attain rapid development growth, the role of the smaller or seasonal political parties in the governance process cannot be underestimated.

The political space cannot tolerate seasonal political parties that do not appreciate their huge responsibilities in the national reconstruction effort.

It is long overdue for smaller political parties to move away from just being mere vote-gathering machines to the serious business of helping to shape the will and destiny of the people.

So far, the smaller parties have woefully failed in their responsibility as agents of change for national development.

When political parties fail to clearly articulate alternative approaches to delivering public goods, the electorate are left with no other option than to resort to other unorthodox considerations, as the country is presently witnessing, in shaping and influencing the governance process.

Multi-party democracy
Ghana is certainly practising multi-party democracy but what is happening in the governance process does not support this assertion. Since 1992 when Ghana began its journey into the Fourth Republican dispensation, efforts to grow multi-partisanship have been at a ‘snail’s pace’ or better put ‘retrogressive pace’. The consequences are that it is impacting negatively on the growth of multi-party democracy in the country.

To argue that the smaller political parties have lost their voices in the governance process is not in contention.

Soon after the 2016 Election ended in December last year, the voices of the smaller political parties went missing in the governance process. A first-time visitor to the country will hold an impression that Ghana is practising a two-party state democracy.

Though in the Electoral Commission’s (EC’s) data, Ghana has about 26 registered political parties, it is traumatising to observe that the political space and discourse have been left entirely in the hands of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the dominant opposition party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC).

No day passes without seeing both the NPP and the NDC, the two major political parties in the country, which have been in government since 1993, at each other’s throat seeking to capture the hearts, minds and attention of Ghanaians, whilst the so-called smaller parties either look on unconcerned or are simply incapacitated to let their voices be heard in the political discourse.

The NPP and the NDC have succeeded in maintaining their presence in the political space and are, therefore, driving the pace of the governance process to the detriment or otherwise of the larger society. Regrettably, in this milieu, the voices of the smaller parties are always nowhere to be heard, seen or felt in the entire governance process.

The voices of the smaller or seasonal political parties only surface every four years when there is a national election. They surface from nowhere, some of them are even capable of going through a last-hour registration with the election management body, the EC, to become recognised as a national political party. In the election campaign year, they go round to ‘throw a lot of dust’ into the political atmosphere only to fizzle out or go into hibernation as soon as the electioneering period is over.

This cycle can neither be described as multi-partisanship, nor is it good for the growth of multi-party democracy.

Modest efforts
Yes, let me recognise the modest efforts of the Progressive People’s Party (PPP) trying so hard to build what it called “Disciplined Party”. I am aware the party is currently touring some parts of the country with a view to re-invigorate the party’s structures. But even then, there is so much more to be desired. They are still very silent in the political discourse and for that matter, don’t have much influence in the governance process.

The two Nkrumaist traditions, the Convention People’s Party (CPP) and the People’s National Convention (PNC), will lay claim to reorganising the structures of the party but one may ask, what sort of reorganisation takes forever? The two parties since 1992 are struggling so hard to be relevant and attractive. As for the remaining smaller political parties, the least said about them, the better. If the media does not deliberately go to them, they have no activity or contribution to make to influence the governance process.

Is it not surprising that these smaller parties, including the Great Consolidated Popular Party, All People’s Congress, United Progressive Party, United Front Party, Ghana Freedom Party, Independent People’s Party, among others, found their voices during the 2016 Election, but ironically have all gone into political oblivion, hibernation or sabbatical leave.

Pooling of resources
For effective organisation and their participation in the electoral process, it is time for the smaller or seasonal political parties to pool their human and material resources. This will help them remain relevant in the body politic of the country.

The EC must also strengthen its regulatory framework and enforce its powers under the 1992 Constitution to ensure all registered political parties operate within the law but do not just exist as election machines.

Following electoral trends from the 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016 elections, it is clear that both the NDC and the NPP are determined to dominate the political space for a long time to come, but for multi-party democracy to work and function well in the country, we will need the smaller political parties to also play their expected roles.

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