Ghana charts a new political course

The inauguration of Ghana’s President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo for his second and last term in office ushered in a new political narrative for the West African nation. In further­ance of the 1992 constitution, a new parliament was sworn in a chaotic and acrimonious manner on January 7, 2021 the same day the president was sworn in.

The 2020 elections held on December 7, 2020 ended in a parliament with no majority party of 137 each for the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and one independent who declared to caucus with the NPP.

Technically, and further to precedent in the same Parliament, the NPP has the majority but the NDC would not agree and in the process, a melee ensued in the august house that brought in the police and military that night to restore order among the “hon­orable” members.

The near-hung Parliament is a new phenomenon in Ghanaian politics. Its implications in a politically charged terrain like Ghana is anything but….

Even more unpredictable is the new speaker who was an NDC member of parliament until recently. In parlia­mentary systems, the executive gener­ally initiates bills for parliament to approve. Since governments must have majority support in parliament, it is often assumed that most bills pass.

Finding a majority in parliaments for all government policies is not always a straightforward task, especially in cases such as we now have in Ghana. Certain realities of parliamentary decision making, specifically the party system and particular institutional resources, often prohibit governments from making straightforward decisions. Fortunately for the NPP such a scenario is unlikely with the independent member voting with them.

Pending post-election litigation results in various courts in the country are likely to either reduce or increase either party’s fortunes in parliament. If the NPP wins all of its six or seven cases it might resume its majority posi­tion in parliament. If it goes the other way, then the NDC would control parliamentary decision making and could present problems to government and its planned projects. If no side wins in all cases as it happens in most cases, we shall have to live with the contentious relationship between the two parties.

Some observers do not give the newly elected speaker so much credit as someone likely to cooperate with the majority or government because of his political background. Others yet give the speaker credit for his acclaimed fairness, and especially now that he is retired from active parliamentary duty, he would shed his partisan garb.

In countries like the United States where such occurrences are common, cases of outright refusal or sabotage of government projects in the name of ideological differences are common. Former U.S. President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act or Obamacare became a hard sell in a Republican senate that continues to rally against it.

In Ghana the many opposition walkouts for some critical bills in the past, including the National Health Insurance and the Fee-Free Senior High School policy among a few such pro-poor policies could suffer drawbacks.

Other scenarios that are likely in such situations are constant threats of votes of no-confidence in the ruling gov­ernment or even impeachment of the president. Such incidents could fore­stall government’s programs and delay progress while they become political scores and munition in the opposition’s war chest.

Amandla calls on both NPP and NDC to recognize that the situation calls for a commonsense approach to promote peace and harmony in Ghana, not petty party interests. The supreme interest of the nation su­persedes all parochial political interests. Ghanaians on December 7 voted for a change in our political course. If that experiment succeeds our democracy must have endured yet another test.

Viva Ghana

Posted by on Jan 16 2021. Filed under Editorial. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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