Many hold the view that, political participation is a means to contribute one’s quota towards the the development of one’s country. Even though there are many forms of ensuring political participation, democracy is seen as the most elaborate and effective means of promoting participation.
This is largely so because unlike the other forms of political systems, democracy most often do not discriminate and even when a form of discrimination is proscribed, it is deemed as positive discrimination. It affords all manner of persons irrespective of their social standing in society, wealth, education, religion or creed the opportunity to participate in the governance and development agenda of their country. It thus encourages and facilitates individuals to pursue the course of political participation.
One of the underpinning elements in democratic governance is elections. Elections does not only ensure that individuals are elected to occupy political positions but also act as the vehicle for guaranteeing participation from the grassroots level to the top echelons of governance.
For example, in Ghana’s political space, elections are regularly held to fill up positions from the Unit Committees, District Assembly Membership(Assembly Members), through the nomination and vote confirmation of MMDCES, Parliament(Members of Parliament) and the to the Presidency(election of a President for the Republic).
These contests have always been characterized with one form of expenditure or the other. However, the various processes including filing of nominations and canvassing for votes through the various forms of campaigns all do come at a cost. Democracy is said to be expensive and those who seek to participate in this process must show a high level of resourcefulness.
In the advanced democracies, one’s level of resourcefulness is highly regulated and rightly so, because the tendency to abuse such abilities to one’s own advantage is higher. While the use of money in politics remain an important feature that cannot be done away with, the abuse of it eminent and has very often generated controversies across the globe.
In Ghana and for that matter most African States, funding of political activities which invariably leads to popular participation has and continues to be a challenge. There are some who believe and advocate that the use of money in politics should be regulated and funded to some extent by the state, however, there others who think major components of expenses in this enterprise are legitimate and must be left as it is now.
It has often been argued that politics is a serious business for which reason persons who desire to actively participate. In it must show demonstrable ability not only to raise the needed funds, but also spend in a way that brings about the desired results.
While it is tempting to agree with the above argument, the amounts often invested into political activism and elections are often outrageous. Simple checks reveal that the demands of the electorates often pushed political actors into going for bank loans to enable them finance their activities.
For those in power and thus control state resources, the state cofferscomes in handy and incumbency advantage is taken of to unimaginable proportions. Sometimes from the use of public funds and deployment of security apparatus to whatever ends are manifestly made clear with careless abandoned.
It is often mind boggling when one looks at how incumbent politicians go all out to dish out freebies just to influence a section of the electorates as though state resources were spoils of war.
In the run up to 2016 General elections for instance, expensive vehicles and in some cases plush mansions were distributed to female groups on university campuses as part of the campaign activities.
Cars like Hyundai i10 , which gained the moniker “Mahama camboo” were shared flamboyantly and recklessly among various categories of lady groups that had been put together to headline the campaign of former president Mahama who was also a candidate in the 2016 presidential elections.
In addition to this, brand new Toyota Land Cruiser V8 cross country vehicles were distributed among selected chiefs and other traditional rulers in parts of the country just to secure their endorsement.
Monitisation has become a common feature of Ghana’s democracy. Today, there are no small or big elections anywhere in the country as elections of small association and groups require some level of spending if one desires for leadership position. The accusations of vote buying during internal primaries for the two leading political parties in Ghana- National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) have become a cliche that Ghanaians are learning to live with.
The recent filing fees announced by the country’s elections management body has ruffle a lot of feathers with many arguing that the regulatory body by the fees announced was further leading credence to the monitisation of politics in the country. Candidates are expected to pay hundred thousand Ghana cedis(GHS100,000) in order to file and contest for the presidency.
However, the EC debunks the claims and explains that the fee was a measure to streamline the electoral processes and getting more serious and effective individuals to participate in the processes. The EC further explains that candidates and political parties who manage to secure a certain amount of votes at the end of the general elections will be entitled to a refund of 25per cent of their filing fees.
One is tempted to agree with the position of the EC and this is because people who desire to lead this nation must not only demonstrate resourcefulness but also strong organisational acumen. In spite of this, it is also important that the EC ensures an even and level playing field for all.
It is important to emphasised that, certain positions including the presidency are not meant for jokes as such persons who desire to contest for it must show high level of conduct including the ability to raise the need resource. More especially, when such fees and other funds needed to prosecute campaign are not necessarily to come from personal pockets of the candidate.
A presidential candidate worth his/her salt, must be able to have the needed influence to lobby to raise enough funds for campaign. But in so doing, candidates in incumbent positions should not arrogate onto themselves, largesse of the state and start dishing it out to people who are already well to do.
By Chineseman, Osei and GuyGee (COG)
Prince Adjei (GuyGee), MA. (Public Administration) as the Records Information Management Project Coordinator of a Private company in United States of America. He opens the line of communication between clients, customers, and businesses to get projects done. With over 8 years in both public and private sectors, Prince Adjei (GUYGEE) has experience in management consultation, team building, professional development, strategic implementation, and company collaboration. Prince Adjei (GuyGee) has managed projects in Records, Information and Management, where he was a finalist for the PMI® Project of the Year. Prince Adjei (Guy Gee) holds an MPA from Kean University, Union, New Jersey and a current PMP® certification.
John K. Okyere.
Has some knowledge in energy related matters as well.
Has been consulting for both public and private organisations.
Currently a Consultant
Martin Osei Kwakye
Project Manager Professional
Currently the Administrative/Project Director at Linessons Limited which is Consultancy firm in the building industry
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