It’s official – Ghana’s next parliament will not be dominated by any single party. The seats are evenly distributed between the two main parties – NDC and NPP but neither has the 116 seats needed to be considered as the “majority” party.
Last week, when I wrote “Let’s vote skirt and blouse” this is exactly what I had in mind – that we choose a parliament the president cannot easily control and manipulate. I dare not presume that the ‘skirt and blouse’ vote from last Sunday’s polls has anything to do with what I wrote last week.
But I feel very strongly that this has been one of the rare moments I have truly been able to capture the mood of the nation. The vote sends out a clear message that Ghanaians are clamouring for change that will move them nowhere but forward. It also demonstrates that we are all sick and tired of the petty politics, the selfishness of the political elite, the corruption and their abysmal failure to recognize that they work for us – not for themselves.
And so with this ‘skirt and blouse’ we have succeeded, for the first time in our nation’s history in exorcising the curse of the ‘rubber stamp’ parliament. The electorate has spoken and made it clear that if the politicians will not use common sense and goodwill to work together in our best interest, we will force them to.
The near dead-heat in the presidential poll is also a direct consequence of the ‘skirt and blouse’ vote. If the electorate had gone into this election with blind loyalties, we would have been spared a second round. But if this is the price we pay for wanting our politicians to use consensus to build our nation, so be it.
As we head for the presidential run-off, both the NDC and the NPP will soon roll out their well-oiled, campaign machinery in full force to scrape all the votes they can get from every nook and cranny of the country. The next three weeks are going to be very exciting.
But what happens after the run-off will be even more fascinating. As things stand now, whoever gets sworn-in as president on January 7 will rule this country without a parliamentary majority. What this means is that he cannot take dubious contracts to parliament for approval without the MPs subjecting it to the scrutiny all contracts deserve. MPs will not approve contracts they have not bothered to even read. All the people president appoints to serve in government will have their competence and qualifications diligently assessed before they actually take up the jobs. I will be surprised if the next parliament stages the same vetting charade that made it possible for someone like I.C. Quaye to become a regional minister after he had told that cock and bull story about how he lost his academic certificates. I do not expect our next parliament to endorse “profligate expenditure” (quoting Prof. Mills here) like the huge sums of money on the Ghana@50 celebrations – most of it unaccounted for till date.
What I’m not so sure about, though, is whether the next batch of MPs will think twice before fixing exorbitant salaries for themselves. I also don’t think they will have any qualms about issuing government guarantees for personal loans they have no intention of repaying.
But one thing is for sure: our parliament, enfeebled for many years by self-seeking, parochial presidents, can now assert itself as an independent arm of government – not a mere, hapless extension of the executive arm. And that’s good.
From every indication, we all truly wanted a ‘skirt and blouse’ government. Now, we have ‘skirt’. It’s slightly more of the NDC colours than those of the NPP. We need to go for a matching ‘blouse’. It might take on either the red, green, black and white of the NDC or the red, blue and white of the NPP. We shall see. On December 28, we will decide.