The Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Chamber of Bulk Oil Distributors (CBOD), Senyo Hosi, has bemoaned how the operators of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana have plunged the country into a spiral of misgovernance in a manner that is depleting the hope of realizing the promises of liberty, equality of opportunity and prosperity to the common Ghanaian.
According to him, this spiral of misgovernance, which is motivated by the non-conformity to the values of the constitution, is giving birth to the very same environment and justifications which led to the death of previous constitutions.
Mr. Hosi observed that Africa’s 2021 coup leaders justify toppling governments and constitutions with allegations of corruption, mismanagement, social injustice, tyranny, and poverty. These reasons, according to him, are similar to those advocated by the coups of Ghana’s past.
Mr. Hosi made these remarks when he delivered the second edition of the Constitution Day Public Lecture. This year’s was on the topic: “Avoiding the impending death of the 1992 constitution.”
In a well-researched speech that was greeted with riotous applause from the large audience of political actors, civil society organizations, members of the academia, as well as students, Senyo Hosi stirred the conscience of the nation with some of the most fundamental problems of Ghana’s democracy and proposed solutions.
He posited that while he unreservedly believed in democracy, he also held firmly that no governance system was one-size-fits all. “Democracy must, however, be adapted to fit our circumstances. I call that a ‘Ghanacracy’,” he stated.
Success of the 1992 Constitution
Mr. Hosi began with reflections on some presumed successes chalked by the 1992 Constitution. He observed that Ghana was an oasis of peace in a region that was still recovering from the scars of debilitating insurrections that served as a chilling reminder of an inglorious past.
“Ghana’s reality is projected as an expertly managed transition from the turbulence of military rule to a political culture whose by-products have seen more sustained periods of democratic rule, democratic consolidation and political stability,” he said.
Mr. Hosi agreed that one main legacy of the 1992 Constitution was Ghana’s political stability. “This is important because it was the most sought-after commodity in the period between 1960 and 1990,” he justified.
Delivering the promise of the Blessings
Assessing the delivery of the various ‘blessings’ promised by the constitution, Senyo Hosi concluded that none of the blessings have been delivered as promised.
Regarding the blessing of liberty, Mr. Hosi bemoaned how a number of people are discriminated against in the access to public goods and services. He revealed the strategy to getting contracts under a particular government—having a party card.
According to him, Ghanaians easily exercise political and social power against persons considered non-aligned. “Criticize a government fiercely, even if constructively, and see how the machinery of state, from regulators to the security services, EOCO and the GRA, may come after you,” he said.
Mr. Hosi expressed alarm at the deep inequality in the various sectors of government. He noted how government sector jobs from ministries to state-owned enterprises have been overwhelmed by the term “Protocol”.
He wondered how Ghana would be able to have strong institutions like the security services and the judiciary.
He noted that the entire public sector system was everyday being shattered by partisan politics and the disregard for meritocracy. “The fastest way to rise through the ranks now is to paint every other person a sympathizer of an opposition party.”
Mr. Hosi doesn’t quite seem to understand why Ghana is blessed with abundant natural resources and yet wallowing in poverty and lack. He attributes this to “corruption, poor leadership and wastage inspired by the Governance frame of the constitution which yields close to no accountability.”
He also marveled at the failure to develop a common economic agenda to guide the country. According to him, the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) has been rendered a white elephant replacing each national development plan with a party manifesto.
Sham of Separation
“Ladies and gentlemen, the suggestion that we have separation of powers to serve as a check in governance is almost a sham,” Mr. Senyo Hosi stated.
According to him, separation of powers existed only in form but not much in practice. He pointed out how the other arms of government depended heavily on the executive due to the extreme powers the executive has been given by the constitution.
“Everybody wants to catch the eye of the President! This incestuous relationship between the Executive, Parliament, and the Judiciary makes it extremely difficult to ensure proper checks and accountability in our governance frame.”
He further bemoaned how the structure of the constitution had created a winner-takes-all system that has ensured an adversarial democracy and not a consensual one. In his view, this had made it possible for the executive to unfairly utilize the powers of the state against any adversary it identified.
He also believed that this trove of power and its wanton usage had made meritocracy and institutional development clearing the way for political fanaticism and social corruption to fester.
Senyo Hosi also revealed how party financing had become an entrepreneurial investment, in hopes for opportunities to be included in the economic discretion of the executive, and opportunities to plunder the state.
“Corruption is the currency for our democracy”
Just as money serves as the currency for which we are able to exchange goods and services, Mr. Senyo Hosi believes that corruption is the currency that keeps Ghana’s democracy running.
According to him, the powers given to the executive arm by the constitution was imprisoning our public institutions. He said these executive powers have cowed the private sector into remaining cautious of the capacity of the presidency and its political henchmen to negatively impact their businesses through regulatory bodies, government agencies and negative bias in the access to public services and government procurement.
“Do not be fooled, under this constitution, corruption will go nowhere. It is what keeps the wheels of our democracy moving,” he said.
Senyo Hosi explained that corruption was not simply a financial loss to Ghana. In his view, it was the theft of livelihoods, the destruction of the future of real lives and the perpetuation of hopelessness.
“I raise these issues on corruption so passionately because it is a major driver in the depletion of hope that the promises of the constitution will be delivered,”he said. “It is the easiest and most resounding excuse to justify the toppling of constitutions, especially when faith in the judiciary and accountability institutions wane so badly.”
Proposed Constitutional Reforms
“I propose to you a new democracy, a consensual democracy and not an adversarial democracy. A democracy of a loser-wins-some and not a winner-takes-all; a democracy that makes politics a call and moment of service and not a career of total economic dependence; a democracy that promotes the strengthening of our institutions and reflects the inclusiveness of our people and professionals; a democracy in which being out of government means nothing to your economic sustainability,” Senyo Hosi stated as he looked around the faces of the distinguished guests listening to him intently.
In his estimation, the reforms may require three broad interventions to avoid the death of the constitution. These reforms include an urgent constitutional reform to reflect the democracy Ghana needed—consensual democracy; the establishment and management of a bipartisan national economic development agenda, one owned by all stakeholders; and, lastly, a re-conscientization of the Ghanaian with the values needed for our social and economic transformation.