As Ghana celebrates the Silver Jubilee of the Fourth Republic, the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) has called for the passage of the Right to Information bill.
In a statement to congratulate Ghanaians on the occasion, the governance think tank said, while the longest running constitutional order since independence deserves to be celebrated, the country must also pause to reflect on how to consolidate and deepen the gains made possible by the Fourth Republican Constitution.
“The list is long, but we can start by passing the 17-year old Right to Information Bill and reforming the public office-holder asset disclosure regime to promote governmental transparency and accountability as well as curb corruption in the public sector.
“In the medium to long-term, we must amend the law and Constitution to strengthen Parliament’s ability to oversight the executive (in order to promote effective checks and balances); inject meritocratic selection and fiduciary accountability into the governance of the state corporate sector; and allow for popular election of district mayors to promote local government decentralisation and effectiveness,’’ the statement said.
CDD-Ghana says it applauds successive administrations and political actors, including the various political parties, “and indeed, the entire Ghanaian citizenry for keeping faith with the 1992 Constitution, which ushered in the Fourth Republic and has undergirded our democratic governance system and practices in the last quarter of a century.”
However, it said the Centre continued to note with dismay that government accountability and responsiveness had remained highly insufficient.
“Despite the delivery of considerable voice to the citizenry under the Fourth Republic; public corruption remained pervasive; progress of the constitutionally-mandated political, administrative and fiscal decentralisation has stalled; and the economy remained characterised by joblessness,” it said.
The statement said: “Income and spatial inequality are on the rise in spite of poverty reduction; and the nation’s two main political parties, which have alternated in power in the Fourth Republic, have increasingly taken on the features of rival cults (whose primary purpose seemingly is to win elections, achieve ‘state capture’ and practice ‘winner-takes-all politics)”.
“We are particularly concerned about the failure on the part of successive governments and majority parties to address the well-known gaps and deficiencies in the 1992 Constitution such as overconcentration of legal and constitutional power in the hands of the executive branch in general, (especially the presidency), and indirectly, the governing political party,” it said.