Political Parties In Ghana Need New Sources Of Funding
Parties form the basis of modern democracies, whether we are talking about one party, bi-partisan or multi-partisan system of democracy. The success of parties essentially revolves around their finances, as much as it revolves around their leaderships and policies.
A party with a very large membership, good leaders, and good policies will never win elections in today’s world if such party lacks adequate funding. Apart from the size of party funds, the sources from which parties derive their funding also determine the control and effectiveness of such parties. So, how should parties in Ghana be funded to enable them to derive maximum funds needed by them to meet their short and long term financial obligations that include the creation of party infrastructure and logistics….. such as offices, day-to-day party administration, seasonal party election campaigns, etc?
Apart from the question of “how”, there is also the question of who and which people and groups should fund parties in Ghana, so that they can be managed and controlled in ways that are consistent with the modern management and control of democratic parties. Should “direct sources” be the only way Ghanaian political parties can seek funding? Should political parties in Ghana be funded by those who use these parties to seek remunerative political offices, or should they also be funded by those who join parties only to “support”, but not to use them to seek any remunerative political offices?
The 1992 Constitution does not say much about the sources of party funding. Clause 14(a) of Article 55 says that political parties should declare to the public their revenues and assets, and the sources of these revenues and assets. Clause 15 of the same Article 55 says non-Ghanaian citizens cannot contribute or make donations to political parties in Ghana. Clause 17, also of the same Article 55, empowers Parliament to make laws to regulate the establishment and functioning of political parties, in ways that are not inconsistent with Chapter 7 of the Constitution. It should be noted that Article 55 forms part of Chapter 7 of the Constitution. *It is clear from these three clauses that the Constitution leaves political parties in Ghana ample room to source their funding.
Firstly, given the high level of general poverty in Ghana; secondly, given also the fact that he who pays the piper calls the tune; and thirdly, given the fact that many people who join political parties do not have remunerative political ambitions of their own, such as contesting elections to become MPs in the country or seeking ministerial and other presidential-appointee political offices, I strongly feel that it is exceptionally important that political parties in Ghana limit the sources of their direct funding to only party members who have intentions to seek remunerative political offices.
When people who want to seek remunerative political offices are asked to pay dues or make other forms of direct financial contributions, it is clear that such people are being asked to make such payments for known and justifiable reasons that are to such people’s own individual and collective benefits. On the other hand, when parties allow others, such as ordinary party members or supporters who have no intention of seeking any remunerative political offices, to pay party dues and other direct payments that go to finance the election campaigns of such parties, then they are creating situations that: (1) undermine fairness and natural justice; or (2) empower such non-benefitting payers to make “consequential”, “nonconventional” and “non-political” demands; or (3) allow such non-benefitting payers to want to exercise control over such parties.
This practice of asking ordinary and poor members who have no personal political ambitions to contribute to provide funding for the benefit of rich politicians is very “exploitative”, “wicked” and “shameful”, especially in Ghana where all practicing politicians seek their individual personal interests; and where, also, they do always find ways to cheat the State and the system, instead of seeking the interests of the communities they represent, or protecting the nation they serve. *Many readers may be aware that a former member and a sitting member in the British House of Commons, plus a member of the House of Lords have all three been convicted by British Courts of Justice for abusing their political offices. These convictions could never have happened in this country.
Here in Ghana, politicians can steal money or receive bribes to send their children to very expensive foreign schools, which such politicians should not be able to sponsor from their normal earnings; and then lie to Ghanaians, for example, that their friends paid such expenses. Other politicians too can purchase very expensive posh cars and create the impression that they are birthday gifts. Yet all such politicians, who openly spend beyond their means and lie about such expenses, escape any investigations, let alone prosecution and conviction. And where legal actions are even taken, they are seen [rightly or wrongly] as “politically motivated” and are then “rubbished”.
Similarly, political parties must avoid soliciting direct funding, or accepting even unsolicited funding from individuals, groups, organisations, or companies that are not part of the official membership or composition of parties. In my view, it is always dangerous for parties to source funding from people, groups, organisations or companies that are not part of the official membership or composition of such parties.
By soliciting or accepting direct funds from such outsiders, parties succumb to the secret intentions of such contributors and donors. In other words, even though the 1992 Constitution does not ban Ghanaian people, groups, organisations or companies, that are not part of parties, from contributing or donating to party funds, parties themselves must avoid using these as sources of funding, so as to stop these non-party elements from exercising outside control over parties and how they are run.
*To help parties to expand the sources of their direct funding without the need for them to fall on party members and sympathisers who have no remunerative political ambitions; or without the need to solicit funding from rich non-party members, groups, organisations or companies; parties must look at non-conventional ways of generating incomes, for example, by going into revenue-generating commercial ventures, such as newspaper publication or other media activities that can help parties to generate revenue while, at the same time, helping them to sell their party images. I do believe that parties can “explore” several sourcing possibilities, including using even the stock exchange to generate funds, such as buying company shares, securities and bonds, etc…… none of which the 1992 Constitution bans.
In short, the Constitution has left political parties in Ghana wide room to source their funds, provided they limit themselves to “Ghanaian citizens”. *Another thing political parties can do to help them to remain solvent is to stop “bribing the electorate” with cash and other gifts. If all political parties in Ghana stopped bribing the electorate and limited their finances to the barest “essentials” needed for the “clean” running and campaigning of parties, then no party would need to ask party members who have no remunerative political ambitions to finance the political campaigns for politicians who are seeking elected and other remunerative political offices.
Ghanaian parties can also reduce the outflow side of their incomes and expenditure accounts by eradicating unnecessary campaign activities. Ghanaian parties seem to be copying the way American campaigns go…… long and intensive. This may be necessary in America because of the size and wealth of that country. Ghana is small and poor. Therefore, we need to cut out a lot of the long and money-wasting trails and party jamborees from our electioneering.
We could copy the simple way British parties campaign. They limit themselves to disseminating and explaining their party ideas, programs and promises, as set out in their election manifestoes. They do more house-to-house campaigns; use their feet to walk more; use less vehicles and less motorcades; and carry on their campaign trails less bus-loads of “roving supporters”, less noise-makers and no lawless hooligans who tend to implicate parties in legal costs.
If our politicians do not stop using people to achieve their political ambitions through collection and use of monies from poor and ordinary party members to finance their party campaigns; or through the misuse of party youth to do their “dirty work” for them, such as assaulting and molesting their opponents, then they, the politians, must not complain when “disappointed” and “angry” party youths march on them with “orders”; or when such disappointed and angry party youths lock them up in their offices.
Also, Ghanaians, especially governing party-members must not complain when the government is controlled by power-hijacking “off-stream elements” who then direct governmental affairs to further their own “private causes”. We must understand that such “non-conventional” political happenings by “hyper-active angry youths” and “opportunistic rich power-hijackers” are a demonstration of the multi-century old saying that: “he who pays the piper calls the tune”.
The Ghanaian “JFKs” who are seeking remunerative political positions and offices must, therefore, be prepared to put their hands into their own “heavy pockets” to give more to their parties by way of money to enable them to improve their party funds, so that they can rather pay ordinary members, and pay them well to work for them…… instead of politicians complaining about “high filing fees” and expecting their parties to fall on others who are not seeking remunerative political positions to “cook the food” for would-be remunerative political position seekers to “eat”……
which is what exactly happens when their parties “chip” party dues from ordinary and poor party members in Ghana and abroad; or when parties tour round the globe during campaign seasons to “solicit” funds from Ghanaians in the Diaspora to finance election campaigns for the benefit of politicians who are seeking remunerative political offices and positions…… a situation that creates what the “Lagosian” would describe as “monkey dey pay, baboon dey joy”. Hush!
Source: Otchere Darko