We need well-defined Ideologies instead of Partisan Local Government System

We have less than a year to go for the next General election. Normally, one will expect that after many years of democratic rule, the country’s politics should dwell on well-defined ideologies, but that is not what we witnessing. Our politics is divided on ethnic and regional lines without specific ideologies. Some parties are organised around well known political figures.

Ideology should be the theoretical and practical mirror through which our society is viewed. It gives social, political and economic direction to governments and their policies. If you have an opinion on any issue, political or not, your position will always fall within an ideological group and since it is a system of thought with set of principles, anyone running a public policy or influencing public opinion should subscribe to one. At least to give their followers an idea of their philosophy and line of thought. Our leaders also need this inner compass in order to remain consistent in principle. Our political parties have many similarities than differences, the only visible difference being their flags and colours. Instead of voting on ideological lines, we vote on tribal/ethnic lines and also vote for personalities.

Yes, Ghanaians are becoming more enlightened when it comes to taking political decisions; but the absence of well defined ideologies is of great concern. Parties are no longer after doctrines, virtues and beliefs; they do not offer anything special to differentiate them from other parties. All they look for is power and will adopt bogus policies of their opponents if that will help them win political power. They use this as bait for the masses without any clear definition of how they intend to achieve what is inculcated in their manifestos. Some even rely on their party’s ability to rig elections or, compromising the electoral commission to rig elections for them.

I read Justice Sai’s piece about how issues about ideology dominated political discussions in our universities years ago. A very nice piece which must be read by all. Is the situation the same today? Chris Akim, Prof Kwamena Ahwoi among others, dressed a particular way their student’s days because of their ideological inclinations. The students front was very vibrant and feared by the politicians because of how they adhered strictly to their ideological beliefs and weren’t ready to compromise on them. They discussed and espoused their ideologies inherent policies instead of bogus manifestos and personalities and were very proud apostles of their ideologies. Nana Akufo-Addo was a devout Communist and was one of the CPP youth activists. He went contrary to his father’s wishes because of his strong attachment to communism and everything left (politically). Mr John Mahama joined the NDC because of his pro-left inclination and was with the left his university days. If one takes a quick survey by asking our politicians the philosophical premise of their parties policies, it will be a sheer luck to find anyone bold enough to answer.

Few who will show boldness, will raise your temperature. We are beginning to have serious problems in our parties because of this lack of well defined ideologies. Our supporters at times exert pressure on the executives to adopt policies of their ideological opponents because their party lost an election. They see policies of their opponents as superior policies all because their party had lost an election. All other reasons are unnecessary to them. Our politics can only be properly understood by reference to greater ideological movements; conservatism, liberalism, socialism, communism etc. Our problem is not the absence of partisan politics at the local level. The problem undermining modernisation of our politics is this lack of well defined ideologies.

The truth is, our political system is dominated by personal ambition and ethnic electioneering over ideological election or principled governance. If you examine speeches, manifestos and legislation, you will find out that the major parties do in fact have ideologies, within a broader understanding of what ideology is. But do they implement these policies? Do their supporters understand or have enough command over their ideologies? Do people vote based on ideological lines? The NDC is a pro-left political organization and the clearest indication of its ideological tendencies, on the other hand, can be found by looking at its record in government. The schools, hospitals, roads etc they build, introduction of some pro poor policies etc. I see the NPP more pro-left than pro-right. The private sector feel more comfortable under the NDC than their natural allies the NPP. The NPP has also implemented few laudable pro- left policies; the Free Secondary Education, the National Health Insurance Scheme which was first auto piloted by the NDC. Citizens understanding of why a party packaged and implemented a particular policy is very important. Understanding these ideological differences and why a party implements particular policies is mirror, is essential for getting a comprehensive grasp on both the historical and the contemporary political situation in the country.

Our students unions have been reduced to political vehicles because of this problem. We have NDC and NPP fronts instead of a strong, united and effective students front. Ideology has no place in their politics. It is all about clandestine moves spearheaded by politicians, ethnicity and personalities. Our journalists do not ask our parties to account for their stewardship based on their ideology, our rating agencies do not rate our parties based on their ideological philosophy and this trend undermines effective accountability.

Social media has created millions of political commentators who aggressively make political demands on their parties executives. Political party executives are going to encounter more serious internal problems from the youth if they deprive them the opportunity of learning their ideologies. Let me take this opportunity to salute the NDC for establishing its ideological school. Let me take this opportunity to salute the NDC for establishing its ideological school – that is the way to go and will urge the party’s leadership to make the project one of their priorities. If we are able to make our politics ideologically based, transporting party politics to the local level will be accepted by all and will make our politics attractive.

Source: Ohenenana Obonti Krow

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