IDEG Panelists call for passage of Transition Bill
Panelists at a seminar on Wednesday suggested that the Transition Bill currently before Parliament should clearly define the timing of the transition process of handing over Executive and Administrative power to prevent any leadership vacuum.
They said issues including the proper exit procedure for both the President and his Ministers of State, payment of their end-of-service benefits, as well as assets handling be clearly stated in the Bill to help prevent negative confrontations that normally characterised the process.
The seminar organised by the Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG) was the second in the series on IDEG’s Election 2012 programme titled; “Reflections on Issues in Political and Administrative Transitions”, was to engage former Chairpersons of Transition Teams to share their perspectives on previous transition processes in the country, analyse and evaluate the process to improve upon the past.
It was attended by participants from Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), traditional institutions, development partners, the academia, private sector, Civil Society Organisations, and the Media.
The panellist said the period between the declaration of election results and handing over to the in-coming government usually created leadership vacuum where all manner of crime and indiscipline thrived to become serious security threats to the country, therefore, it was critical that ample time for handing over was allowed to sustain national cohesion, safety and security.
Professor Fredrick Sai, Chairperson of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Transition Team during the 2000 and 2001 Transition period and Mr Paul Victor Obeng, Chairperson of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Transition Team during the 2008 and 2009 Transition period, both agreed for an institution backed by legislation to ensure peaceful transitions of governance of the State.
However, they expressed concern about the delay in the passage of the Transitional Bill which would form the basis of establishing a Constitutional system of Political Transition in Ghana, which allowed for smooth handing over of State power without incriminating the losing party.
The panelists called for attitudinal change on the parts of all political leadership and the need for in-depth media education, for them to understand that change of Government was entirely different from overthrowing a government, so that they could educate the public.
Prof Sai said the absence of a precedent for transfer of executive and administrative powers at the time offered the NPP little option on what to do at the time and recounted the numerous challenges it faced, which included negative attitudes and perceptions of Ghanaians that the out-going administration must be audited and judged at the point.
“We as a country have taken the issue of power transition for granted since the country opted for a multi-party democratic system of governance in the early 1990s”.
He said unpleasant episodes with assets handling, where in some cases Ministers of State were virtually ejected from their bungalows and left stranded, while others had tussles with in-coming government officials on claims of ownership to their official vehicles.
Prof Sai said this institutional vacuum had been compounded by the stern competition that characterised Ghanaian politics fueled by the “winner-takes it all rule”, and that transitions in the country had become inconsistent with democratic governance which thrived on orderly change and agreed norms, principles and procedures.
“Acting without precedent is challenging and therefore need a law or Legislative Instrument (LI) to set clarity,” he said.
Prof. Sai said apart from the establishment of a national institution for the transition process there must be a national budget which was based on proper costing to cater for the entire process.
Mr Obeng said Ghana was a learning curve in her multi-party democratic dispensation and it was critical that she matured by updating her efforts to sustain her credentials as a shining example of liberal multi-party democracy in Africa.
He stressed on active leadership education and growth in thinking in respect to responsibilities and challenges in opting for multi-party democracy.
Mr Obeng said although Ghana had successfully organised five multi-party elections with steady improvement in credibility and efficiency, the two elections that resulted in a change of government exposed weaknesses in the processes of transition from one government to the other.
He urged the media to be responsible in its reportage and intensify public education on Election 2012 to promote peace and unity, before and after the election.