Ghana needs an all inclusive political system-Kwesi Botchwey


A former Finance Minister in the Rawlings regime, Prof. Kwesi Botchwey, has warned that the country will be sitting on a time bomb in the 2016 elections if it fails to create an alternative to the current winner-takes-all system.

He also advised that the country used the constitution review process, which began in 2010, to look at the issue.

“Everything we have seen about the current political system suggests that it leads to a lot of polarisation which comes from the feeling of the lack of inclusivity,” he told the Institute of Economic Affairs’ Winner-Takes-All Advisory Committee, led by the Metropolitan Archbishop of Accra, Archbishop Gabriel Palmer-Buckle.

Prof. Botchwey said the country needed a system that would reflect its history, value system, political, legal and developmental expectations.

He gave the advice when the seven-member committee paid a courtesy call on him to solicit his views on the winner-takes-all political system in Ghana, which gives executive power to the winner of the presidential election.

Criticisms

Since the country returned to multiparty democracy in 1993, there have been concerns about its political system which gives little room for consensus building.  Seen by its critics as divisive and a threat to the country’s budding democracy, there have been calls for alternatives that promote inclusiveness and a merit-based appointment devoid of partisanship of public office holders.  

Appointments

The closest the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) have come to in an inclusive government have been to appoint members from minority parties, particularly the Convention People’s Party and the People’s National Convention (PNC).

Many political pundits, including Prof. Botchwey, have made a case for proportional representation— an electoral system designed to represent in a legislative body each political group or party in proportion to its actual voting strength among the electorate.

While admitting that proportional representation had its downside, he said it did not leave the issue of inclusivity to the whims and wishes of the powers that be, as it was built in the constitutional system.

The winner-takes-all system becomes even more dangerous if it seeps down to the workings of key institutions where the judiciary, public service and key institutions for public policy get contaminated with partisanship.

Archbishop Palmer-Buckle

Contributing to the discussions, the Metropolitan Archbishop of Accra, Archbishop Gabriel Palmer-Buckle, observed that for some time now, the winner- takes-all system had created a discontinuation of development and reached a stage where if allowed to persist, it could be a recipe for even violent behaviours in many circles.

He said it was important to hasten the constitution review process, since missing the process would mean a 20-year albatross on the neck of the country.

A member of the committee, Prof. Stephen Addei, observed that another bad side of the system was that victimisation went beyond just political opponents to even persons in the corporate world who were perceived to be political opponents.

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