Enhancing the developmental capacity of Ghana’s political parties

BY: William Dowokpor

The critical conversation about “Enhancing the developmental capacity of Ghana’s political parties”, which is long overdue, was introduced at a roundtable discussion by the Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG).

It is a matter that should have been part of the considerations in the transition from dictatorship to democracy ahead of the promulgation and operation of the 4th Republican Constitution. Obviously, we missed that opportunity. I nevertheless believe it is better late than never!


Considering the wide powers granted to the Executive President under the 1992 Constitution and the fact that all the Presidents we have had so far have been produced by political parties, it stands to reason that political parties are equipped in the art and science of transformational development; the most important need of our country and the entire third world at this time is transformational development.

Put in other words, the incubators that produce our leaders must themselves have the capacity to know and to deliver the quality of leaders required for the task of nation building and development. In Ghana, the capacity to win elections has been amply demonstrated by the National Demcratic cngress (NDC) and (NPP) over and over again. Now, the capacity to deliver on the transformational development agenda when either of them or one of the alternative parties wins the next election is the question we are invited to answer.

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Capable leadership:

Leadership that is naturally capable of the task of national development (like that of Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah) is rare and has become even more difficult to find given the nature of our politics. If we cannot find them, then we must find the way to build the capacity of all who are likely to attain national leadership positions as an assurance that the transformational development agenda would at all times be on the front burner, shared and executed on a sustainable basis.

To that end, we may want to consider that, in addition to the academic and professional qualifications members bring to our political parties, a concerted effort be made by the parties to offer orientation and training of leaders in the equivalence of a functional master’s degree in governance and leadership. Every member in leadership or aspiring to leadership position in the a party must have it.

There are some fundamental leadership know-hows, attitudes and practices (KAPs) linked to transformational development that this proposed capacity building and orientation will offer beneficiary parties and the nation in the long term.

They include but not limited to vision casting, vision sharing, strategy planning to attain visions, mobilising the resources for implementation and attainment of the visions, managing change effectively and efficiently, staying the course despite the challenges, adjusting priorities where necessary for the attainment of the vision; and sustaining and scaling up the vision where necessary to remain relevant to current needs.

A close look at some of the ongoing policy visions being implemented by the current administration confirm a clear lack of capacity on the part of political parties to deliver on transformational development.

For example, the:

i. Prospects of election of MMDCEs

ii. Ghana Beyond Aid agenda

iii. Three development authorities / one-district one-factory etc. lack certain ingredients that will make them successful and transformational.
Of the three policy visions listed above, only policy (i) has any chance of success to contribute to the transformational development agenda. Policies (ii) and (iii) would at best, fit the formula of wishful thinking and something else.

i. Prospects of Election of MMDCEs:

Policy (i) one has a great chance of success, with the potential to contribute in a big way to the transformational agenda because it is now the vision of the people. It has been shared over and over again. We are clear in our minds how it must be implemented, how to mobilise the resources are well known, how challenges will be catered for in the new local government law that will go with election of MMDCEs, etc; but is there the political will to do it? I am reading mixed signals.

ii. Ghana Beyond Aid agenda:

Policy (ii) is a typical example of nice talk and positive soundbites by the President and the Finance Minister for now. It is, however, a desirable great dream that needs to be taken through the process of vision casting, sharing, implementation strategy etc. to be taken seriously. We must bear in mind that the automatic reduction in aid to Ghana, as a result of our lower-level middle-income status, is posing challenges in some key sectors of our economy already.
For example, it is reported that in Bimbilla in the Nanumba North District of the Northern Region and elsewhere in the country, we are waiting for the United Nations Children’s Education Fund (UNICEF) to provide our malnourished babies with special food supplements, without which,, the babies may die!; when we have been made aware that the aid package is no longer available. No Longer!

iii. Three development authorities:

Policy (iii) is obviously a duplication machine to waste taxpayers’ monies and time. The experiences of SADA, GYEEDA and others ought to make us alert and jealous about the funds that will be channelled through these authorities. What is it that these development authorities will do that the MMDAs cannot do when the implementation of election of MMDCEs policy vision takes effect?

Incorruptible leadership

Incorruptible leadership is critical for transformational development. The People’s Action Party of Singapore and the Communist Party of China have upheld it in addition to the leadership fundamentals, discipline, meritocracy and patriotism etc. We may learn from there.

In many areas, however, we must think and find the developmental paths that fit our unique circumstances and armed with the knowledge and skills acquired through the proposed governance and leadership programmes for political parties, apprenticeship, mentorship and grooming programmes. We should cast our own vision “from third world to best” and work towards attaining it.