Avoiding Money Bags In Politics

Political party financing has been an issue since Ghanaians decided to adopt the multi-party system of governance in 1992. This issue has dominated discussions on political platforms because, somehow, ruling parties have always had resources in abundance to finance their activities. We seem not to be making any head way on this debate because most of the time ruling parties are not interested in the debate because they are not constrained by funds. The irony of the situation is that it is when parties are out of power that they see the need for the state funding of parties. The question is, is there anything good in the state funding of political parties or it is only when political parties are out of power that they see the need for it? All over the world, especially in the so-called developed world, campaign financing is not left to the discretion of political parties or their ability to raise funds. In the ongoing campaigning in the United States involving the Democrats and the Republicans, funds being raised by the candidates are issues of public knowledge. The flag bearer of the Progressive People’s Party (PPP), Dr Papa Kwesi Nduom, has thrown a challenge to all the candidates to indicate their sources of funding for Election 2012. Article 14 of the Constitution states that political parties shall be required by law: (a) to declare to the public their revenues and assets and the sources of those revenues and assets; and (b) to publish for the public annually their audited accounts. Article 15 says that only a citizen of Ghana may make a contribution or donation to a political party registered in Ghana. We know that the reality in the country since 1992 is not in tune with the constitutional requirements, as money “flows” during electoral campaigning, depending on the party in power. That is why huge billboards are erected all over the country and posters posted on any available space in the communities and along the roads. This unbridled use of money during elections has the tendency to distort the verdict of the people. Chief Justice Georgina Wood, has waded into the debate by calling for a sustained crusade against the fusion of money into politics at all levels of the country, since she said, the practice has the greatest potential of breeding corruption in the national development engagement. She said money injected into politics in that fashion could not be clean money, as it could only have been acquired through corruption and would be recouped in like manner. As a people, we should begin to question the source of funding of all the political parties because, invariably, these parties claim to be acting on behalf of their supporters and followers. When political parties are funded by a few rich people and their cronies, then what happens is that the ruling party finds a way of helping the financiers to recoup their investments. This practice has the tendency to breed corruption and abuse of office, as our leaders award contracts to these same people who do not submit to any standards because of patronage and cronyism. Article 1 (1) of the Constitution states: “The sovereignty of Ghana resides in the people of Ghana in whose name and for whose welfare the powers of government are to be exercised in a manner and within the limits laid down in this constitution.” The EC is enjoined to make sure that all parties provide audited accounts of their operations every year and even go on to proscribe those parties that do not have offices in two-thirds of the districts in the country. But even here, again, the EC is unable to act because if that is to be done, there will be no political parties. Any society that is not prepared to play by the rules descends into the state of nature where might is always right.