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Oquaye calls for reforms in party financing

BY: Vincent Amenuveve & Abigail Sedinam Kortiah
Prof. Mike Oquaye, a former Speaker of Parliament, delivering the keynote address at the inauguration of the Centre for Constitutional Studies at the Institute of Economic Affairs.
Prof. Mike Oquaye, a former Speaker of Parliament, delivering the keynote address at the inauguration of the Centre for Constitutional Studies at the Institute of Economic Affairs.

A former Speaker of Parliament, Professor Mike Oquaye, has called for reforms in party financing in the country’s democratic dispensation.

He described as dangerous the rise of unbridled financial expenditure in both intra-party competition and national elections and emphasised the need to address the problems of political party financing.

He made the call at the inauguration of the Prof. Mike Oquaye Centre for Constitutional Studies at the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) in Accra last Tuesday.

Concerns

Prof. Oquaye, who is a constitutional scholar, said areas that needed to be examined included limitations on money to be expended during party primaries since the Constitution required that the internal management of the affairs of political parties should be in accordance with democratic principles.

The reforms, he said, must, therefore, provide against vote-buying.

At the national level, he said the screws must be tightened on the financial accountability of political parties with sanctions provided for and applied.

“Third, state funding of political parties needs a reconsideration. The process must be just and equitable to all political parties. But it cannot be a shield of mere survival for parasitic political parties which spring up on the eve of elections only to collect state largesse,” he stated.

Prof. Oquaye, who is also a former Member of Parliament for Dome-Kwabenya, said the principles to qualify and all relevant controls must be clearly identified together with appropriate offences and principles.

He explained that the constitutional process must be inextricably linked with good governance and development in the country.

“We should seriously re-examine our governance as a people so that wherever a lacuna is found, we tighten the constitutional screws to achieve desired goals,” he said.

Citing the membership of MPs as board members of public corporations, he said although no provision specifically provided against that, “it is clearly a case of conflict of interest as those who are to hold public corporations accountable are themselves members of the boards of such institutions.”

That, he added, flouted the principles of probity and accountability under the Constitution.

“To avoid all doubts, a constitutional mandate should be provided to prohibit this. Then no one can blame the President,” he stated.

Prof. Oquaye, who is also a former Ghana High Commissioner to India, said “constitutionalism must beget good governance; and good governance must manifest, reflect and echo the glory of constitutionalism.”

Reforms

He recalled the Constitutional Review Commission set up under late President Prof. John Evans Atta Mills to revisit the Constitution and come out with recommendations for improvement.

“Since then, floods of water have flowed under the bridge and this is a call to revisit constitutional issues which touch and concern the republic.

Prof. Oquaye said the exercise proposed was not to rewrite the whole Constitution “but to study and recommend areas where appropriate amendments, additions and subtractions may be made to strengthen the process towards democratisation, good governance, the rule of law, equity, justice and development in the republic.”