Ghana’s political culture thwarted its dev’t endeavours – Dr SKB Asante

Constitutional expert Nana Dr S.K.B Asante says aspects of Ghana’s multiparty system of governance have greatly impeded the country’s development drive.

The astute lawyer, who is also the paramount chief of Asokore Mampong, said there are aspects of the country’s multi-party system which are only borne out of political culture and not rooted in the 1992 constitution.

“…I think the kind of multiparty system we have operated, which is not necessarily traceable to the constitution, but our own political culture, has actually thwarted our development endeavours,” he said on TV3 Hot Issues Saturday.

He was speaking on 27 years of Ghana’s constitution in commemoration of the country’s constitution day which was marked on January 7.

Dr Asante cited the excessive power of the executive arm of government as an example, indicating that Ghana’s Transitional, Act 845 which was passed in 2012, came into effect to give the president more powers.

Per the Act, the tenure of boards of statutory corporations automatically expires whenever a new president is elected and sworn into office, and new ones appointed by the president.

“This was something which was passed after the constitution but it gives enormous patronage powers to the president; it enhances the president’s power to make appointments because boards are all dissolved, new directors are appointed,” he stated.

“Until the Supreme Court made its decision a few months ago,” he said “even chief executives of these corporations were supposed to be removed. Now that was not dictated by the constitution, it was something which are old ideas of presidential power”.

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Both sides of the country’s political divide, he said, have been interested in excessive presidential powers but then once a political party is out of power it will complain and when it is in power, it goes mute on the issue.

Asked by the host of the show, Stephen Anti, whether despite the shortfalls of the 1992 constitution, it can still serve another 27 years, he said some changes will have to be made to it.

“I will recommend that any party of our multiparty system which turns to overemphasise exclusive powers in the hands of one party …to the detriment of our national development plans should be looked at and redressed,” he advised.

The constitution under the directive principles of state policy, he indicated, envisaged long term development based on which the National Development Planning Commission was established.

However, he observed that “because of this four-year cyclical competition, we’ve never been able to get a national consensus in our development plan. I think that is harmful”.

Dr Asante said although the 1992 constitution stipulates that that within 10 years of it coming into force, Ghana should be able to establish a free compulsory basic education but said that was not the case after 27 years.

“We are in our 27th year, it may be free, but it is neither universal nor compulsory. We’ve not been able to do that,” he stated.