IMANI Africa on Thursday 25 released a report on promises made so far by the 6 largest political parties in Ghana. Our research revealed that only 18 out of the 247 promises collectively made by the 6 parties were quantifiable.
The word democracy stems from the two Greek words “demos” (the people) and “kratia” (power, rule). It is clear that the major essence of a democratic system is that the power to govern the country fundamentally lies with the people. Ever since the Athenian democracy around 500 years B.C., democracy has in most societies where it has been applied taken the form of a representative one. The people elect a government to govern the country. Hence, the government is a crucial link between the people and the power to rule, which is the defining feature of a democracy.
This link can be broken for different reasons. Perhaps the most obvious way this can happen is that the government can decide to neglect the will of the people by refraining from fulfilling the promises upon which the people selected them. The same result may happen if the government does not fulfil the promises because they were too far reaching to begin with. However, another equally probable way for the power of the people to be lost is when the representatives give no information on what they intend to do if elected. If the citizens lack information about their representatives, they cannot select the ones who will most likely follow their will. When this happens, the true meaning of a democracy is lost, since the people in essence have no power to determine how the country will be ruled.
To secure the democratic system, it is therefore fundamental that the parties running for power clearly state what they intend to do. It is to this end that this report has been compiled. The text aims to scrutinising the nature of promises provided so far by six of the major Ghanaian parties, namely NDC, NPP, PPP, CPP, PNC, and NDP. It develops a scheme for categorising the promises into three; quantifiable, semi-quantifiable and nonquantifiable. In doing so, it aims at shedding light on whether or not the parties provide adequate information for the people to make an informed decision during Election Day.
Equally important as enhancing democracy, the report intends to enhance financial responsibility. Therefore it brings out some of the major promises for a tentative cost analysis. The main rationale for the cost estimations is to show the crucial need for a clear financial plan or provision of pro forma budgets to back up promises made. These will both push for fiscal responsibility, and to ensure that promises are not merely empty, undoable statements to lure people into voting for them. The text is not meant to provide policy recommendations; indeed it is not IMANI running for presidency. Rather, it raises questions that the selected parties need to clarify so that Ghanaians can be informed of their representatives’ true strategy for governing their country.
We hope that the project will be received as constructive criticism, not a tool for naming and shaming certain parties and we hope that the parties can take help from this to make their promises available, assessable and understandable to the Ghanaian people. Finally, we hope that this project can help enhance the political environment in Ghana, and create a healthy competition where each party, by focusing on itself and what it can improve, pushes the others to provide the best possible policy objectives for Ghana and its people.