The essence of this article is to draw the attention of key stakeholders in the political economy of Ghana, more importantly, to have an intellectual discourse on the recent trend of monetisation in our body politics.
The politics of monetisation, for the purposes of this article is the practice whereby politicians use money and other materialistic items to influence the minds of electorates to vote them into power or into political leadership.
This practice is gradually growing multiple wings in Ghana’s political environment. It is sad to say that, in Ghana, all that one need is sufficient money to assume political leadership. The significant issue of ethics, values, intellectual capacity and high sense of professionalism is gradually being pushed into the ocean.
Fatal Path for Socio-Economic Development
The main purpose of political leadership is to improve the living standards of citizens. Unfortunately, in Africa, most political leaders and political actors tends to focus on their personal and greedy interests as against working to alleviate the citizens from abject poverty. It is worth noting that few politicians on the continent are quite working to elevate their citizens from the doldrums of hunger and poverty.
The issue of corruption is alive and seriously eroding economic gains thereby affecting the GDP growth of most economies on the continent. As a result, there is the need for all of us to rally behind state institutions mandated by law to fight corruption. In fact, according to Transparency’s Global Corruption Barometer –Africa 2019 reveals that 1 in 4 Africans had to pay a bribe to access public services. The survey further reveals that corruption is hindering Africa’s economic, political and social development.
Surprisingly, the current trend of influencing the electorates with money and other materialistic items in the quest to win political power is visible in Ghana’s political environment, and therefore has the propensity of fuelling corruption in the country. This emanates from the fact that, whatever money that is spent on the electorates, the politician, having access to the governance of the country, will divert public funds or over value projects so as to recoup his or her “supposed investment”.
Such practice will deny the citizens meaningful infrastructure projects capable of improving their living standards. This position was emphasized by Samura (2009) when he stipulated that “the real development priorities of a country are often neglected in favour of those that generate personal gains for the decision makers”.
Political parties must equally reconsider the phenomenon of charging exorbitant fees at their primaries prior to electing party executives, parliamentary candidates and flag bearers. The practice will put unnecessary financial pressure on such aspirants and subsequently find a way of recouping their so called investment when leadership opportunity is offered them. It is my humble submission that, political parties must devise innovative mechanisms and transparent means of raising funds.
They must also comply with the electoral law by ensuring that, they file their audited accounts with the Electoral Commission on timely basis. It is refreshing to state that, this proposal may not sound interesting for the various political parties but am equally hopeful that, it will help minimise the perceived potential corruption among some politicians. The Electoral Commission of Ghana recently announced filing fee of GH¢ 100,000 and GH¢ 10,000 for presidential candidates and member of parliaments respectfully.
The amount attracted a lot of concerns from critical stakeholders and some civil society groups in governance. Indeed, the Electoral Commission is an independent institution pursuant with article 46 of the 1992 Constitution and therefore cannot be subject to the direction or control of any person or authority. In spite, of the above constitutional provision, it is my respectful considered opinion that the fee should be looked at and possibly reduced so as to help fight the monetization of politics in Ghana. I trust that the Electoral Commission is firmly ready to deliver a free and fair 2020 general elections. God bless our homeland Ghana and make our democracy a shining example to many.
The writer is a Development Economist at Policy Initiatives for Economic Development. Email: [email protected] Phone: 0244 476376