Parties high filing fees inimical to democratic gains – Ayeboafoh
Mr Yaw Boadu Ayeboafoh, Chairman of the National Media Commission (NMC), has expressed concern about the high filing fees political parties charge for their internal party primaries, including presidential and parliamentary primaries.
He said the practice if not checked would erode the gains made in consolidating the country’s democracy.
Mr Ayeboafoh said this at an engagement between the Ministry for Parliamentary Affairs (MoFA) and political parties in Accra.
The event, which was under the theme: “Monetization of politics in Ghana- A focus on the solution,” is being executed under the ministry’s strategic objective of deepening democratic governance.
Mr Ayeboafoh said political parties, over the period, had accused the Electoral Commission (EC) of charging high filing fees for persons contesting presidential and parliamentary elections.
They argued that the EC was using money as the basis for disqualifying people from contesting an election.
He, however, explained that in the case of the EC, a candidate who secured a certain number of votes during the election had their monies refunded but not so with political parties.
He said presidential and parliamentary candidates, who can gunner 25 per cent and 12.5 per cent votes respectively during election got their monies refunded.
Mr Ayeboafoh also called for a common salary policy for everybody in the public sector, including the President.
He said the President could be the standard measure and everybody placed on the same salary scheme and graduated to the lowest person “so that when there is salary increase it affects everybody equally rather than people trying to join politics to better their welfare.”
Commenting, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, noted that excessive monetization of politics was a harmful canker that was likely to affect the democratic governance of the country.
He said nobody entered politics to be a “Father Christmas” and that whatever a person planted today, he would want to reap tomorrow, adding “that is the realities of our times.”
“Politics unlike what happens in the churches… the churches will tell you to cast your bread upon the waters and you will reap your harvest in the fulness of time.”
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu also indicated that the issue of the increasing monetization in politics must stop, adding that the time to address it head-on was now.
“There is no better time than now. This is the most opportune time, in my considered opinion, to begin the change Ghanaians have been waiting for. We cannot bury our heads in the sand anymore,” he added.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu also cited the findings of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD) and the Centre for Democratic Development’s (CDD) study conducted in February 2018 on the 2016 elections, which revealed that to secure a party’s primary nomination, a candidate had to spend not less than $86,000. This represented a 57 per cent increase over that of 2012.
In 2020, it costs between $120,000 and $240,000 to become a Member of Parliament (MP). This is supposed to represent primaries only and does not involve the general election.
Dr William Hadzi, Director of Research of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), stressed the need for the country to come out with stringent laws on campaign financing at the national level.
He cited for example situations where powerful private corporate bodies look out for who is going to win the subsequent elections and invest in the key allies in the political class so when they come to power it is payback time, saying these activities corrupts the democratic practice and reduce democratic dividends citizens should get.
Dr Hadzi also called for renewed discussions on State funding of political parties under certain conditions.