Ghana’s fourth republic has been thriving for 25 years now, which is more than the first Republic which lasted for 6 years and the second and third republics both of which survived less than three years. The fourth republic has also produced successive governments with two different political parties swapping places and five Presidents. That is unparalleled in our history and is also an enviable record compared to other African countries, some of which have found it difficult to have smooth electoral transitions or bedevilled with the crisis of decades sit tight Presidents.
However, the foundation of our democracy has to be looked at so that we can sustain this dispensation without it being swept away. In previous articles I have raised a question about the way the fourth republic was born at a time when society was divided by tension but the programme was driven by one faction in the tension.
Some analysis makes the problem one of the weakness of the two main political parties which have swapped places in government and the solution lies in getting some other force other than the two main parties to run the government. I insist that if we don’t carefully examine the political and constitutional architecture of the country, whatever new force replaces them will inherit a crisis which could nullify any saintly characteristics they assume that they are imbued with. The type of internal problems that have engulfed the small parties from time to time around their congresses and sometimes the post-election fall out gives no indication that the smaller parties are insulated from the moral weaknesses which some attribute to the two main political parties which have so far swapped places in government.
There has to be education and the raising of consciousness about the importance of democracy and how to sustain democracy as anger can let even mobilisation for change to be misdirected. Previous reactions to earlier democratic experiments led to coup d’états which came in the name of liberation, redemption, revolution, defence, probity and accountability. This led to mobilisation around the questions of inadequacies of the system today. Mobilisation has to focus on how to deepen and popularise democracy rather than disrupt it only for us to move full circle to start from scratch. If the responses to the experiments of the earlier three republics focused on how to deepen democracy than disrupt we would not have gone all over to be having four republics.
Just at beginning of the present government some started complaining about how the heads of the security and intelligence services change with change of regime. An examination of how the heads came into office would have shown that there was nothing questionable about the changes and that we do not have an institutional arrangement which guarantees stability without making such changes.
The first change under constitutional rule came as a result of the political party which was the reconstituted military regime being defeated. All those in authority were the appointees continuing the legacy of the military regime against which all democratic forces had fought for the civilian constitutional dispensation. How on earth could have the new regime maintained them to advance new democratic current? When the reconstituted military regime political party came back they were returned directly or in various guises. This shows that the question goes deeper than just maintaining or changing officials.
The present brouhaha in the Electoral Commission leadership has brought the issue I have been harping on all along into sharp focus. It is becoming clear that the root of the problem lies in the job for the boys and girls competitions and rivalries which are rooted in the transition from the military regime to the civilian constitutional dispensation.
When the military regime was forced to grant concessions in the process presented as constitutional rule it employed its foot soldiers as workers in structures like the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO), Microfinance and Small Loans Centre (MASLOC) etc. Many have used these structures as a support machinery for the military regime’s reconstituted structure fronting as a party. Whenever the party loses, the fissures from this papered over reality comes into the open and this is at the bottom of the scandals in the Electoral Commission.
As I have been saying a Sovereign National Consultation Forum of some sort should have preceded the constitutional transition but now we have to look at it as an issue of better late than never. We should have a Sovereign National Consultative Forum to precede a constitutional review. This should have followed the National Reconciliation Commission sittings.