‘Winner Takes All’ In Ghanaian Politics: Leading Causes

The following appointments currently entrusted primarily to the Executive, or made with strong input from the executive,must be determined by the vote of a 2/3 majority of Parliament, not by a simple majority of parliament. a. Appointment of Commissioner and deputy Commissioners of CHRAJ b. Appointment of Commissioner and deputy Commissioners of the Electoral Commission. c. Approval of nominations for Chief Justice and Justice of the Supreme Court d. Election of the Speaker e. The Inspector-General of Police (IGP) f. The Chief of Defense Staff (CDS) g. The Common Fund Administrator h. The Auditor-General i. Ambassadors and High Commissioners j. The Chairman of the Public Services Commission The objective of this amendment is to reduce the element of raw partisan politics in the process of making appointments to key constitutional positions which must necessarily be held by persons without direct or even indirect partisan connections. For example,the Speaker of Parliament in a democracy must be chosen by Parliament. However in practice, our Executive has been overly influential in selecting and getting approved its preferred candidate. Given the important function that the Speaker plays in the democratic process generally and the parliamentary process in particular, this is troubling. It is essential that the Speaker enjoys the confidence of the entire House. One way to ensure this is to require that the speaker is appointed via a bi-partisan super-majority. We also strongly recommend that any attempt to establish, merge, re-align, re-organise, or abolish ministries should require parliamentary approval through legislation. Given the impact of the creation of new ministries within a budget year, and given how this practically unfettered discretion to create ministries has been abused (with one president at one point having about 90 ministers), it is vital that this process becomes subject to legislative oversight. Supermajority approval This recommendation is targeted at addressing the growing partisanship in borrowing/loan agreements. In recent times, the process of approving large scale financing for development projects, or indeed, any major policy programs with large scale financial implications has become increasingly politicised, and have approved often with majority party MP approval, as opposition backbenchers and parties threaten to reverse the stated policies/agreements upon winning the next election. This proposal is designed to check this unfortunate trend. It will also have a number of benefits. These include checking profligacy and disciplining the countries borrowing; and ensuring that cross-party consensus behind loan agreements cure that tendency for incoming ruling parties to dishonour their prior commitments made under these agreements, to help promote policy continuity and to help protect Ghana’s credit-worthiness. Undoubtedly, this supermajority requirement would not be ideal for all loans. Perhaps there should be a threshold – to be determined by parliament by legislation (also with super-majority approval) within six months after the coming into effect of the constitutional amendment – setting the maximum levels for financial transactions that can be approved by parliament without the requirement of a super-majority. Article 108 should be amended to permit MPs to initiate legislation and amendments to proposed Government bills, including the budget. Law-making is one of the primary roles of the MP. In this regard, MPs should have a right to initiate legislation as well as amend government bills. Typically, legislatures that have their historical origins in the Westminster tradition have placed restrictions on the ability of MPs to initiate bills in any area, especially “money bills” (those that directly relate to management of macro-economy e.g. taxes, budgetary issues). This restriction is based on an improper interpretation of what constitutes a money bill. In Ghana, the de facto interpretation of Article 108 since 1992 is that MPs are unable to initiate bills that have any financial consequences – which is interpreted to mean ALL bills.Hence, since 1992 no private member bills have ever been initiated or passed. The current proposals by the CRIC which leave the question of what constitutes a money bill to Parliament’s Finance Committee does not fix the problem. It is too easily subject to abuse by a parliamentary majority. This provision constitutes a serious impediment, on the ability of Members of Parliament to perform their roles as legislators and must be addressed. In the final part of the essay, we examine reforms to the Council of State, the Public Services Commission, and Local Government. Reforming the 1992 Constitution to curb winner takes all (Written by E. Gyimah-Boadi; Victor Brobbey and Kojo Asante (Staff at the Ghana Center for Democratic Development, CDD-Ghana, Accra) Further constitutional reform measures to reduce winner-takes-all in Ghana in Part III of the essay are focused on the Council of State, the Public Services Commission, and Local Government. Reconstitution of membership of the Council of State to include social minorities (women, youth, disabled), members from each region and religion, and minority party representation. The Council of State, as currently constituted, is not sufficiently representative of the broad spectrum of interests in Ghanaian society. Itis also beholden to extreme levels of partisan influence. We recommend that the membership of the institution include representation from minority groups,such as minority parties, and under-represented communities, such as the disabled and the youth. Also, the advice given by the Council of State should always be made public through public media statements as regards the way in which the Executive was advised. Reform of the Public Service Commission This relates to the problem of large-scale personnel turnover following a transition of power. The removal of personal a) slows down efficiency of state-enterprises and para-statals and causes the leaking out of institutional memory during political transitions; b) ramps up partisan rivalry and promotes inter-party conflict; c) fosters the belief that these positions are ‘goods for spoils’ following national elections, which leads to continued personalisation of politics and informal recruitment processes, rather than meritocratic recruitment; and d) promotes wrong set of priorities for the management of personnel and policies. Appointment to the management and boards of state companies – including the Ghana Water Company, the Electricity Corporation, the Commercial Bank, COCOBOD, the National Disaster Mobilisation Agency, Teaching Hospitals, etc, must be removed from the ambit of patronage politics. This requires that the Executive is completely removed from appointments to these agencies, and their senior management and boards of these agencies recruited by an independent Public Services Commission. The election of Metropolitan and municipal chief executives and an increase in percentage of the DACF There is widespread desire to see the districts serving as the basic units of decision-making and development. Metropolitan and Municipal and District Chief Executives must be popularly elected to increase the accountability and responsiveness of local government officials. We also believe that the President’s power to appoint 1/3 of assembly members should be removed. But if the current system in which the President appoints one-third of the assemblies is to be retained, there should be strict legal guidelines to guide the president in the direction of bridging gaps in representation, especially with respect to the youth, disabled, gender, technocratic competence etc. Furthermore, if the country is to make decentralisation meaningful, there must be real fiscal decentralisation. We propose that the current five per cent allocation of government revenues made to the District Assembly Common Fund (DACF) should be increased to 20 per cent. This will help to reduce the motivation for state capture, refocus the energies of political entrepreneurs to the districts, decentralise resources and relocate development to the local level. MPs and state commercial regulatory public bodies To significantly enhance the country’s public corporate governance and performance of the state/public for-profit sector/commercial entities/public utilities and regulatory public bodies, introduce a constitutional provision or enact a legislation to specifically disqualify persons who hold office in a political party as well as MPs from serving on their boards of the oil and gas for-profit or regulatory public corporate bodies. Reform of the Public Service Commission, particularly, insulate management and staff of para-statals and other non-political state agencies from removal following party turnover: The large-scale personnel turnover following a transition of power undermines public administration. The removal of personal a) slows down efficiency of state-enterprises and para-statals and causes the leaking out of institutional memory during political transitions; b) ramps up partisan rivalry and promotes inter-party conflict; c) fosters the belief that these position are ‘goods for spoils’ following national elections, which leads to continued personalization of politics and informal recruitment processes, rather than meritocratic recruitment; and d) promotes wrong set of priorities for the management of personnel and policies. Appointment to the management and boards of state companies – including the Ghana Water Company, the Electricity Corporation, the Commercial Bank, COCOBOD, the National Disaster Mobilization Agency, Teaching Hospitals, etc, must be removed from the ambit of patronage politics. This would require that the executive is completely removed from appointments to these agencies, and their senior management and boards of these agencies recruited by an independent Public Services Commission.