There have been 1001 calls on successive governments taking steps to address the issue of dividing and conquering the dangers of concentrating power in one arm of the government.
These calls have come from opposition parties to ruling governments through to civil societies and in recent times the enlightened citizens.
In the early years of the republic that has now grown to be known as the world’s best democracy, the United States, the founding fathers realized the importance of dividing the spoils and splitting them equally to ensure that no one arm or function of government enabled the other to have utmost power.
They devised a strategy and in that blueprint, clearly set rules and regulations that have over the years not only strengthened their institutions but also fortified their standing as the leading template for modern democracy.
This philosophy over the years, even in the over 400-year- old democracy, has undergone changes, adjustments, and eventual deductions and that is what we are demanding of our political system.
A system where the legislature is clearly set and defined apart from the executive and the judiciary has complete autonomy when it comes to the dispensation of the law. These structures however small, they may be going a long way to protect the ordinary Ghanaian while providing room for the government to operate without hindrances.
At a point in our growing democracy where the executive holds more than half of government power, the function and considerable performance of substantive duties from the other arms are controlled and bottled. And the ongoing vetting is a clear example of what it means to have separate institutions managing different functions of the state.
There are instances when members of the Appointments committee appear before it as Minister designates, and in those instances due to familiarity, the public doesn’t get the sort of scrutiny and value they deserve.
Like the American system where members of the executive are removed from the legislature, they don’t have the right, power or opportunity to do government bidding in the house of congress; in our case parliament.
They stay to making the core functions of the lawmakers happen without excessive influence and that is potent enough for an avenue where they co-exist and work hand-in- hand harmoniously. And that is to help foster two main principles;
1. Protect the separation of powers which is the philosophy upon which the federation is built.
2. Prevent congress from conspiring to create offices or increase federal officials’ salaries with the expectation that members of congress would later be appointed to these posts.
As clearly stated, it is an anti-corruption instrument that prevents the system from being turned into a gaming console. These separated offices, therefore, more than giving an indication that it works to the benefit of the Ghanaian who works from 8-5, pays his or her taxes and still doesn’t gain meaningfully from the officials they have entrusted to have their interest at heart. With a separated government, no one arm will have the power to revoke Supreme Court ruling, create political capital with acts of contrition or expressly offer positions of ‘Dare me and see’.
Our 57-year- old republic deserves more than the bargain of having the President oppose and perform the functions of God when the 27 million other Ghanaians don’t get to live the promises our founding fathers had in mind when they proclaimed ‘Ghana, our beloved country was free forever’.
In 1969, Ghana had returned from military rule and was on the verge of reformation which meant we had to try something new, different and borrowed. We went back to the colonial leaders we had waved goodbye 9 years before. We returned to the Parliamentary system of government and enjoyed a stint of separating our government institutions.
While Sir Akufo-Addo served as the ceremonial leader of the country with the duties of meeting and greeting foreign dignitaries while Prof. Busia controlled Parliament and government as a whole, the President’s voice was still potent. Beyond this, the cabinet was wholly formed from a list of non-legislators in order to establish a clear line of distinction between the various arms of government.
There was a clear-cut line between what Parliament stood for and what the courts could stomach. The government defined what it meant to be a Ghanaian and work step-by- step, side-by- side as to grow the economy, build institutions and create the conditions that till today inspire governments.
For years, this example and direction that has continued to school today’s cast of present leaders are gone; no more in practice. The spirit of government has taken a different tone as government by the people, for the people, and of the people doesn’t really work to the advantage of the ordinary Ghanaian.
Parliament, as it stands, cannot investigate itself while the executive cannot force its decisions on the judiciary. If Ghana is to develop and government work for the good for the everyday Ghanaian who suffers to get basic service, stops have to be put in place to control our human tendency to understand that “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
In the early days of the Ghanaian republic, the founding fathers some of which later became enemies of the state, held the courts in high regard and truly believed the parliament which was a cross section of the people had their constituents at heart. However, the dynamics have changed, the antics different and the powers that be positioned as untouchable in most regards and high and mighty by all accounts.
3. The representation of the people who in other countries like the UK have the ability to decide whether or not a foreign government with different interest or maligned interest be invited or not especially in the case of Donald Trump, wield their power and make good use of it. It is important for our setup to have the same sort of restrictions and implications that the government of the day is subjected to. It is not enough to have parliament object or approve the men and women the President gets to work with. In the bigger sense of their obligation, the Parliament like the courts is supposed to be the voices of conscience and the tune to which the government plays and works.
The culture of ‘winner takes all’ over the course of our 6 decades of freedom, strive and progress as an African democratic powerhouse has not worked to the advantage of the ordinary Ghanaian. It has deducted from the creed that was proudly echoed through the hearts and minds of Ghanaians. That “this is our own native land/ what a priceless heritage/ acquired with the blood our ancestors shed for us/ it is now our turn to continue what our ancestors started… cheating and selfishness/ has scarred our character and diminished our affection for our land.”
Where the courts have wilfully satisfied the need for civil liberty, the Ghanaian court has remained silent, where the President has been blocked from taking decisions that in their views will harm the public by representatives, Ghanaian Parliamentarians have remained unhinged and where the President has found consensus, we have ideally fought every step of the way to make the will of the people prevail.
If the Wednesday evening speech that brought tears to the tired and filled the hearts of the leaders who for decades dreamt of self-governance and steering the course of our country right, was any indication of how we have changed the route of the nation 60 years later, it is because we don’t have Presidents anymore. We prefer to have KINGS who are left unchecked and continually change the rules as they will it, and constantly do the bidding of the party than the people.
By: Abdullah Yusif Mahmud/ Email: [email protected]