The President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace at the Vatican, His Eminence Peter Cardinal Appiah Turkson, has called for a break in partisan politics to give the nation a reprieve from what he describes as ‘political turmoil’.
During that partisanship break, he recommended the establishment of a national government of technocrats to stabilise the ‘political turmoil’ and fashion out a national development agenda that would stand the test of time.
In an exclusive interview with the Daily Graphic, Cardinal Turkson said the establishment of the national government of technocrats should be in conjunction with the political parties and key stakeholders.
He said the interim government might consist of representatives of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and other identifiable bodies.
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He said one of its key mandates would be to set the ground rules for the re-engagement of political parties in national governance.
“I am making this suggestion with all humility, without compelling anyone, as a way of developing our democracy,” he said shortly before his departure from Accra to the Vatican.
Cardinal Turkson was in Ghana for a short visit after undertaking a three-nation tour of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea to ascertain the Ebola situation in those countries.
His suggestion, which was the essence of a New Year message delivered through the Daily Graphic, is not only a departure from the prosperity messages given on such occasions but also appears rather drastic and radical.
That inspired a prompting of the possibility that although he may be far away in the Vatican, he is likely to have heard strong voices of dissent back home.
“Never mind. If they lambaste me, fine; we are used to this. There may be a better solution to the problem but this is mine. After all, this is a democratic society.
“If the challenges facing the country require solution and we don’t have to postpone it, then we can call it radical,” he added.
Cardinal Turkson cited Italy as one of the countries that had taken a break from partisan politics at a point in time, adding that the exercise was successful.
Asked whether Ghana was ready to travel the path of Italy, he stressed the need to consider the peculiar issues in Ghana and “how we can solve them”.
“I am thinking seriously about how we can solve certain problems,” he said.
Tenure & referendum
Cardinal Turkson said the tenure of the national government of technocrats and when the implementation of the idea could begin after its acceptance could be fixed by the political parties and other stakeholders.
He said since the idea of an interim government was not provided for in the 1992 Constitution, its implementation would require consensus by the key stakeholders or a national referendum.
He said the ‘winner-takes-all’ system of government currently being practised was the source of acrimony in Ghana’s partisan politics.
“Whether you win or lose determines whether you eat bread or not,” he remarked.
He said taking a break from partisan politics for the establishment of an interim government would help address the challenges imposed by the ‘winner-takes-all’ system of government.
Cardinal Turkson said the national government of technocrats would be required to formulate a national development agenda from which political parties would fashion out their manifestos.
He said the essence was to ensure that whichever political party was in power would execute a particular national development agenda.
Furthermore, he said, it would enable the public to hold political parties accountable to their national development mandate whenever they were in office.
On the constitutional powers conferred on the President, he said it was important to consider whether there was enough control of such powers.
According to him, parliamentary control of the powers of the President, as provided in the 1992 Constitution, was not enough.
He said it was also time to consider a review of the constitutional provision that allowed the President to appoint majority of ministers of state from Parliament.
According to Cardinal Turkson, Members of Parliament should be freed from ministerial appointments and allowed to concentrate on parliamentary work.