Saturday, 24 August 2013

The Run Up to #August29: Winner Takes All versus Democracy

Now all this "power sharing" came from the idea that "Winner Takes All" is bad. The phrase winner takes all in the democracy context derives from the first-past-the-post (FPTP) method of candidate selection and often means majority government. It is what governs the way we choose our parliamentarians but not our President because the President requires 50% + 1 vote. Now we have two different methods of selection in Ghana. This also means that it is technically possible for the President to represent a different party from the majority of parliament. Someone said on JoyNews that we have "majoritarian politics" with the Executive and Legislature - that's not exactly true. Parliament is majority NDC and if Nana Akufo Addo was to win he would not import with him MPs to represent all the constituencies in which he manages to overturn votes. So he would be President with an NPP cabinet and an NDC parliament. But I've digressed a bit since the likelihood of that is slim to none.

Winner Takes All now means in Ghana that whoever controls the Presidency pretty much controls everything. Why? Because Ministers and Deputy Ministers do not need to be elected persons, in whom the public have shown trust. MMDCEs are also not elected but nominated by the President. The Assemblies are not elected. Everything leads back to the President. That means Ghana is a centralised democracy. It almost leads me to use the word democracy very loosely indeed. The winner would not take all, if there were greater autonomy in the metropolises, municipals and districts. The people could hold their local representatives to account and this would ease tensions against political parties on a national level. In Adenta, the Assembly is not happy with their DCE because she is not doing enough to promote NDC interests in the area, but the position of DCE is a state position, not a party position. She owes it to the people she governs to prioritise real life matters above the NDC's interest and if she's been making those correct priorities she's about to be punished for a job well done! See what party politics, winner takes all, we-care-more-about-3-little-letters-than-we-do-about-policies-and-development mentality does to our country. Even the Accra Metropolitan Chief Executive, self-titled Accra Mayor did not find it necessary to apologise for a massive mistake that was received terribly by the people of Accra until "his oga" the President ordered an apology and marched him down to an old lady's house for a photo-op to confirm the apology. Winner Takes All in Ghana means we live in a dictatorship, and we can change the name and face of the dictator and his crew every four years, if we choose to but the longer they maintain this dictatorial structure the harder it becomes to differentiate the difference between the two because our experiences of them (in the way they interact with us) are the same.

What is needed therefore is not power sharing between parties in the Executive but real decentralisation, real competition by policies and real governance by policies. I've spoken on how Ghana uses the #MyOgaAtTheTop mentality which is a product of the Winner Takes All structure of the country's governance. Change that and we'll all be winners taking what's needed!

[p.s. if anyone could put me in touch with other decentralisation campaigners in Ghana that would be greatly appreciated. my twitter handle is @thebellower ]

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