As part of the efforts to deepen democracy and enhance good governance in Ghana, STAR Ghana Foundation in collaboration with the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII) and Elections Community of Practice and Learning (ECOPL) has held a National Dialogue on Reforming Political Campaign Financing in Accra.
The dialogue follows three zonal discussions of the national campaign financed dialogue series held at Tamale, Kumasi, and Takoradi. It was aimed at engaging citizens and key stakeholders to discuss and deliberate on campaign finance reforms to help safeguard the country’s democracy.
Executive Director of STAR Ghana Foundation, Alhaji Ibrahim-Tanko Amidu commended political parties for their contributions towards the successful take-off of the dialogue series, noting that the event will help step up the country’s democracy.
He said political campaign financing is a challenge and must be well addressed with the needed reforms to enable the government to come up with a clear cut road map towards effective good governance and nation-building.
According to him, STAR Ghana has put in place comprehensive steps in supporting numerous electoral activities geared towards the socio-economic growth of the country and building the capacity of political parties and civil society organizations in their bid to regulate and monitor political activities.
Alhaji Ibrahim-Tanko Amidu said STAR Ghana is working fervently to engage corporate bodies to institute a national fund to support governmental programmes so as not to rely solely on donor support throughout its operations.
The Governing Council Chair of STAR Ghana Foundation, Dr. Esther Ofei Aboagye, urged parties to have their accounts audited as part of the reforms to bring sanity in excessive spending during political campaigning.
According to her, public office holders can fall short and compromise in the event of giving out funds in their quest to stay in office or come into political office.
In a presentation on the topic, “Democracy and Political Finance in Ghana Today – Facts, Challenges and Best Practices” Prof. H. Kwasi Prempeh, Executive Director of the Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) said the practice of political financing has a direct impact on corruption since the candidate will recoup the money spent on activities while in office. He noted that also brings to the fore money laundering and electoral violence and chaos over the sharing of money by party faithful and sympathizers.
He said the practice also leads to women being relegated to the background since they do not have the nerve to engage in such illegal activities in the move to occupy public office. He called for swift reforms in party financing in the country.
Prof. Prempeh advised the government and stakeholders in the political space to put in place automated mechanisms to track the source of funds as well as the financiers to scrutinize the transparency of such monies.
In a panel discussion, christened “How the Status Quo Hurts the People and our Democracy – The case for Urgent Reforms”, the panelists called for swift reforms in campaign finances. They called on key stakeholders in the political arena to engage the government on enforcement of laws governing campaign financing and advocate for its implementation.
Josephine Nkrumah, Chairperson of the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) said laws must be enforced to stop the illegal financing of political campaigns. She called for reforms in that regard, adding that, if it is well-addressed development partners will not dictate in the governance of the country.
By Ben LARYEA