Friday, June 20, 2008

Political parties have failed - Prof. Dumor

Professor Ernest Dumor, Executive Secretary of the National Identification Authority (NIA), on Thursday said political parties in Ghana and in Africa as a whole have failed their countries. He said "political parties in Africa, including those in Ghana have since independence failed to develop methodologies for recruiting qualified persons to occupy public offices, train leaders for the future and for uniting their countries much more the continent as a whole. "They have also failed to develop home-grown solutions for the economic problems of their countries."

Prof. Dumor made the remark at a symposium organised by the Ghana Academy of Arts and Science (GAA), on the theme; Ensuring Democratic Participation in Africa.

Speaking on the topic - The role of political parties, Prof Dumor noted that since independence, not a single political party in Africa and Ghana for that matter have instituted a clear set of standards for training future leaders and for recruiting qualified persons to public office.

"The style of politics in post independence Africa has left African countries more polarised than they were prior to independence. "Politics in Africa discourages sober and rational debate and has instead led to more social barriers than bridges among peoples," he said

He noted that recruitment into public office has been more on the basis of political party affiliation, ethnic origin and family ties rather than on the basis of merit.

Prof. Dumor observed that instead of focusing on a clear program of training future leaders, political parties seem to be content with having youth and school-based wings, saying that it was not enough for political parties to have branches in universities, especially where those branches did not provide any leadership training.

"Political parties particularly those in Ghana have failed to instil the fundamental national values of freedom and justice in the public as they hardly make reference to those values in their campaigns and programs," he said.

He said in addition to the failures of political parties, was the evidence of a disconnection between what political parties propose to do in their manifestos and what the fundamental needs of the people really are.

"Research conducted at the University of Ghana between 1996 and 2008 shows that there are fundamental needs of the greater majority of the people that the political parties are not talking about much more addressing," he said.

Prof. Dumor said the disconnection between the real needs of the people and what the political parties propose to do, was a clear evidence of the impression that African economies were managed by from overseas.

"Africa's economic problems must be managed from within Africa itself and not from without. We must be home grown solutions to our economic problems and the political parties have failed to provide a clear vision and plan on how to solve our problems from within," he said.

Prof. Dumor urged Ghanaians to hold political parties vying for the office of government in the 2008 elections accountable to their campaign promises and also to their required role as instruments of reform and development.

He said political parties must be held accountable to the issues of uniting the country, providing effective leadership both now and for the future and providing home grown solutions to the countries economic problems.

Touching on the up coming elections, he noted that the current political system usually excluded minority groups in the country from decision making roles.

He explained that, for instance, the First Past the post system, had the tendency of denying youth and women groups from being represented at the decision making level. Prof. Dumor therefore urged political parties to take a second look at that system and ask questions about its adequacy with the view to ensuring a more inclusive system.

He said for Ghana and Africa for that matter to take advantage of the opportunities of the 21st century and fully benefit from them, political parties in Africa must avail themselves of Mr. Kofi Anan's call for larger freedom, towards development, security and human rights for all.

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