Does Ghana have a true democracy?

“Ghana First” meeting on 15 May 2011 discussed the issue whether there is indeed in Ghana, a true “democracy”?To answer this question the group referred to different studies about democracy and what is required to be present in a country to qualify as “democratic”.

For a country to be described as having democracy, it must have at least four elements, they include:

A political system for choosing and replacing the government through free and fair elections;
The active participation of the people as citizens, in politics and civic life;
Protection of Human rights of all citizens;
A rule of law in which the laws and procedures apply equally to all citizens.

Evidence from Ghana clearly shows that Ghanaians do have a political system for choosing and replacing government. Although we are not 100% confident that the system is totally free and fair, at least we do have a system in place where the electoral commission supervises elections and Ghana has changed governments on two occasions through the ballot box and not by the barrel of the gun. Therefore we can say that Ghana meets this test.

Next, whether in Ghana we do have active participation of the people as citizens in politics and civic life? On this point it was overwhelmingly agreed that this is present in Ghana and not like other countries where some sections of citizens are barred from participation in elections, this was not present in Ghana and that to the best knowledge of the group, Ghana does indeed meet this test.

The next issue was whether we as Ghanaians can confidently say that there is protection of Human rights of all citizens? On this point there was again a unanimous agreement that this does not exist in Ghana. Several examples of incidence of abuses of the rights of citizens were cited. For example more recently in or about early 2010, one Nana Darkwah was arrested simply for stating words to the effect that “Rawlings burnt his house”. He was immediately hauled from the radio station where he was as a panelist and kept in custody for expressing his right to speak. He was not given the opportunity to substantiate his allegation or even justify those comments. There are many instances where even journalist have been beaten up simply for doing their work by thugs of politicians and the perpetrators are never brought to book. The group concluded that there is no such thing in Ghana as protection of Human Rights of all citizens in Ghana. Ghana therefore fails this test.

The final point was whether there is the rule of law in Ghana where the laws and procedures apply to all citizens equally?

On this point everybody concluded that this does not exist in Ghana. In fact several examples were cited as clear evidence that there is NO SUCH THING AS RULE OF LAW in Ghana where individuals are treated equally under the law. The group cited more recently, the case of Rawlings stating that he has evidence of those who killed the Yaa Naa, (a case that has caused so much tension in the country) and yet nobody arrested him or even invited him to provide the evidence. But in the case of poor Nana Dankwah who claimed that the Rawlings’ burnt their house, he was immediately whisked away, charged and kept in custody and later brought before the court. The way the laws of Ghana are selectively applied makes a mockery of the concept of Rule of Law. This is clearly evidence that in Ghana today if we say that there is the rule of law and that all citizens are equal before the “law”, then we are only kidding ourselves; and that as in the animal farm situation, some are more equal than others.

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