Andrew Disqus: When democracy goes for hunting

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Ghana’s fourth republic is finding itself wanting. Government business is in jeopardy; and we can only think through it only by going back to history to face the realities of democracy and how its hunting spree can ensue chaos in politics and governance.

Almost as if it is natural law, in every civilization, where men have thought to live by democratic principles, there seem to be some deadlocks in the pursuit of it values, culminating an exhaustive system of government which explodes in the hands of complacent political mortals. Two thousand six hundred years ago, across the Mediterranean, from the shores of ancient Egypt up to the north, some Athenians sought to live by a Government for The People. With ideals that transcended into their willingness and readiness. They sought to live by nobility at home and as morally-constrained people abroad. Pericles and Solon, among other pioneers, thought and lived by a legacy. A legacy of a system of government where people are fairly represented, having a voice in both judgement and decision making.

But they baffled with some dilemmas, perhaps, potholes which had haunted political theorists and philosophers over the long-turmoil years of political history. Equality and Liberty, to some extent, freedom, were juggernauts in the Athenian democracy. It was a dilemma that consumed the clarity of Plato’s republic and the ideals of Aristotle’s political treatises. Athenian-styled democracy, in the hands of ever-ruthlessly ambitious Romans appeared in the form of classical republicanism. It soon turned into empire that blocked all other political ideals from entering Europe for six hundred years. Both the Athenian elders and the Roman senates claimed to represent the people. Athens’ democracy and Rome’s republic had more parallels than differences. They were both patriarchal having no women recognition, and a sweeping number of slaves. Both fought imperial wars abroad, with aristocracy exhibiting total unfairness, deep inequality, exploitation and injustice. Its manifestations were brutal. As we crave for answers, these should be our starting point.

Observing Ghana’s case, there seem to be sometimes a bliss, other times, irony.

From the ashes of American declaration of independence down to the whirlwinds of colonialism, Ghana’s system of government seeks to please an American manufactured democracy while pleading to mechanize British styled constitutionalism. It is either we miscalculated the tactically-flawed separation of powers or we were too complacent in handling the legal thought of the British. The former yields bureaucratic chaos, through several democratic institutions that aims to ensure checks and balances, accountability and transparency. The latter breeds temples of deep state, which haunts and controls even the lifespan of the people. If we are to understand the nature of our fourth republic and the crisis that bewilders it, then thorough historical revisionism is needed both on American separation of powers and the European-inspired Constitutionalism; how it embodied the structures of our government.

In the meantime, whatever version of democracy we had pursue, we are being hunted; fairly representation, justice, transparency, and good governance. By now, the idea of mere elections being the backbone of democracy has become trivial. Afterall dictators like Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak, Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, even Vladimir Putin, all did organized elections. Rigged elections and corruption among partisan demagogues, in the history of African politics shouldn’t be overemphasized. Seeing a legislator, snatching ballot papers in a law-making chamber, and comes back to resume his seat in parliamentary business should give you clear-cut idea on the bearers of our democracy. The current crisis that our democracy face is as a result of the extinctions planted from the initiation of the fourth republic. Sometimes, we dare to escape, most times we forget about its forgery.

Politicians, since 1992, have sought to bypass the necessities that confronts this nation. The necessity of long-term goals, policy-making and implementation, and uplifting of national heritage. Framers of the constitution complicated themselves with swamps of legal credos while creating legitimate mechanisms for only those who will antagonize themselves against deep patriotism. In Ghana, real politicians, very real politicians, do not have the country at heart. They seek to defy all moral maxims to chase government luxuries to deified themselves and their families. They simply calculate their four-year returns when chanced to get into government, as such will strive to sway the people to vote them to power.

The rationale behind this is simple, the government is far from the people.

Far from the people in history, culture and politics. The history of the American government is the history of American statesmen and the people. The history of the British and European governments is the history of kings and queens, barons and baronesses, lords and ladies, and the people within. The history of Ghana’s government is the history of American and British political theorists in conflict.

There have been several bogus decisions, taken by the government that went down in history without the people’s notice; either they didn’t care or were ceased to know and understand it. When this happens, democracy, right from the bottom is totally demolished and is replaced by meritocracy in an illiberal manner. This, I think is the first premise for the critical argument of our current crisis.

In the past few months, other side of the government (Executive and Legislature) have not been able to compromise, or agree, even on crucial matters. Government business has been in jeopardy for almost four months, halting the day-to-day decision making, needed for the people to start living. This is because, for the first-time parliament has to represent the people in true sense on matters that directly affect the people; first it was anti-gay bill, now e-levy. Many are the issues which have been compromised by government, without public scrutiny or concern. The current administration wanted the usual to continue, forgetting that it has bracketed itself within the shackles of serious economic shakedowns, vast number of insecurities, socio-political upheavals, corruption and insensitiveness even exceeding the people’s tolerance.

Now the government is in conflict with itself, while the people, as highly resented and outraged, continue to rally against it. At this juncture, it becomes unnecessary to analyze issues from democratic principles. The President, from the onset, exhausted the creams of his presidency by relying too much on bloated bureaucracy. He mistakenly thought that the conversion of campaign rhetoric to achievable-policies could be done with intellectual heaps. But governance is not the mere analysis of manifestoes, it is a decision-making enterprise that drains intellectual capital. Either he was too complacent in his calculations, or he failed to filter arrogance from competence.

While history isn’t good in separating conditions and circumstances from personal convictions. In our time, only the few will admit that the structures and mechanisms of the fourth republic left the current president with none, perhaps feeble sense of patriotism and national pride. Now, he is left with no democracy, not even the liberal conservatism his party upholds. And when democracy falls, illiberalism and despotism ensue; chasing of journalists, intimidating activists, leveraging the toils of the people, and slashing the people with corruption remains the norms of government. The manifestation of all these become the heyday of opposition party. On the other hand, they will seek to capitalize on flaws, exploit the anger, and leverage on the resentment, hoping to tap on the emotions of the people.

But for the first time, the basic premises which reveals the nuances of these propaganda have been laid by animated activists. Hence, both the government and the opposition parties are failing to validate themselves. Meaning, the people are searching for something, something that is missing, which, in reality, is also hunting for politicians; democracy.

When democracy goes for hunting, partisan politics runs to hide. Demagogues fail to shake the people. Propagandists fail to unmake sense. Career politicians shiver. Government gets paranoid, obsessed and confused. For the very few who still have the people at hearts, will still linger behind the calmness of history, when democracy finds the people again, they will be become political heroes.

By Opoku Andrew

Email: [email protected]

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