The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, has bemoaned the high level of monetisation of politics in the country.
He explained that such was the situation that some writers had christened Ghana’s democracy “monecracy”.
“Conscience is on sale. Truth and honesty are scarce commodities. Elections have been reduced to a farce, open auctions, where the highest bidder wins,” he stated.
Speaking in an interview with the Daily Graphic, Mr Bagbin said there was pervasive disregard for law and order with impunity.
“Vigilantism, gangsterism and the use of hoodlums are gradually becoming a norm of competitive politics,” he added.
Mr Bagbin said the democratic decay in Ghana was very pronounced and visible, and questioned if the country was witnessing the death of the Fourth Republic.
He said the situation should serve as a wake-up call to the political leaders to be the leaders that they had claimed to be.
“This calls for credible, honest and patriotic leaders not only in politics, but also in all facets of our lives,” he said.
He said indications were that the electorate were losing confidence in democratic governance.
“Ghanaians are losing confidence in national leadership, particularly the political elite. The level of patriotism and the commitment to the national cause of Ghanaians are waning.
“There is a genuine worry about whether the interests and concerns of the electorate and the general public — the people the politicians are supposed to serve — are taken into consideration in the management of national affairs,” he said.
Mr Bagbin said the Office of the Speaker was working with a number of civil society organisations to come up with new legislations to address the monetisation and corruption in the country’s body politic.
He said the situation where the highest bidder at all levels of political elections prevailed must end.
“I hope all political leaders must be ready and willing when such legislations are brought forward and enacted,” he stressed.
He cited, for instance, the Rwandan case where election into office was by proportional representation, adding that based on the issues, the political parties elected or chose representatives who could best express the political party’s vision and ideas, and not those of an individual.
“When this happens, then we would be moving forward to fighting monetisation and corruption in our politics,” he stated.
Mr Bagbin said that would compel leaders to focus on issues and not recoup any investments made in the conduct of their election as political leaders.
He said the initial populous majoritarian parliament had transitioned into a hung parliament of equal representation, presided over by a non-member Speaker whose party was not in government.
He said the multi-party parliament of five active parties had become a duopoly of two major parties.
“In theory, the jinx of instability has been broken, and Ghana has been made an oasis of free, fair and credible elections with smooth and commendable democratic transitions from a party in government to one in opposition,” he said.
He noted, however, that Ghana was backsliding in its democratic journey, stressing that the recent call on Ghana and Ghanaians to accept the reality and collectively stand up to the challenge of creeping lawlessness and national disintegration “is a call that must be responded to decisively”.
Mr Bagbin conceded that some of the aberrations could be blamed on the weakness of parliament, saying “these happenings are loud evidence of parliament not measuring up to the standard expected of it in the performance of its functions and duties”.
That, he said, called for a renewal of parliament through an all-inclusive and vibrant legislature to turn the tide and reverse the downward trend of democracy in Ghana.
“Protecting our democracy must, therefore, be the responsibility of all Ghanaians. We must work towards the strengthening of the institutions of democracy and other state institutions in order to make our democracy strong.
“We must fortify our democratic practices, processes and capability. Indeed, we must reinforce the representational role of parliament, and by extension public participation in the work of parliament if we desire to continue to celebrate many more milestones of parliamentary democracy.
Mr Bagbin said the electorate expected a lot more consultation and involvement in the issues that affected them as they were less impressed by political showboating and filibustering.
He called for a strong partnership with the public in order to succeed in this effort at consolidation.
“We need to build that partnership that will offer security to this country and our choice of political superstructure,” he stressed.
He explained that people often considered the conduct of elections and the attendant change of government as what consolidated democracy.
“It includes the full participation and understanding of the citizens in the democratic journey. It also includes the readiness of the citizens to protect and preserve the country’s gains in democracy; so does it include the degree to which genuine efforts are made to ensure inclusiveness in all national endeavours. That is the essence of democracy,” he stressed.
In recognition of the need for a more effective engagement with the public and a wider participation in the work of parliament, he said the legislature had decided to set up a Citizens Bureau within the Parliamentary Service.
“The bureau will work to institutionalise parliament-citizens engagement through partnerships with the media, civil society organisations (CSOs) and think tanks. The bureau will develop and maintain a database of CSOs and think tanks operating in Ghana, and provide the media and CSOs with the opportunity to easily share information and research findings with parliament while accessing relevant information from parliament to support their work,” he said.
The Speaker said with that arrangement, it would help to bring the hopes and aspirations, concerns and anxieties of the public to the fore and enable parliament to respond timeously to them.
“It will reduce the misunderstanding between parliament and the public, and serve as an early warning signal to alert the elected representatives of the people on vexed issues before they degenerate beyond resolution,” he stated.