Africa’s “Star Pupil” of Neo-Liberal Economic & Political Practices: An Assessment of Ghana’s Elections, US Style Executive Presidency and Parliamentary Governance (1992-2020)

Kwamina Panford


This paper has a dual purpose. First, it lays out the context: post-Cold War/ neo-liberal economic and political order through which western donors have indirectly become managers of African economic and governance institutions. As it were, African leaders have yielded responsibility for Africa’s development to western donors (The Gist 1986 & Panford 2001). The second objective is to use Ghana to show why and how neo-liberal policies are not only expensive to implement but may have exacerbated Africa’s problems wittingly or otherwise. These policies have diminished drastically Africa’s capacity to rise and face 21st century development challenges including massive youth unemployment; rising poverty; decaying infrastructure, massive technological deficits and rapidly accelerating income and wealth inequality (Konadu Agyemang & Panford 2006, Alston 2018 and Oxfam 2020).Key themes covered are prohibitively expensive legislatures in Africa including those of Ghana, Nigeria, Liberia, and Kenya with excessive salaries and perks with confusing and malfunctioning hybrid of US Executive Presidency incongruent with a British Westminster (Parliamentary) system Ghana has sought to practice since 1992. This study demonstrates dysfunctional governance which it connects to economic mismanagement, corruption or outright looting. This study illustrates how despite being acclaimed a leader in democratic governance, Ghana displays a dearth of creative, smart and practical solutions to Africa/Ghana’s problems. Lastly, we ask a contentious question: With excessive emphasis on elections and parliamentary systems, has Ghana or others “placed the cart before the horse,” exhibited wrong priorities and can African democracies be built on weak economies and can they be sustainable?This paper applies cases ranging from the Presidency in Ghana, which is front loaded with excessive powers, an unwieldy huge cabinet of 111 Ministers (from 2017 to 2021); MPs doubling up as Cabinet members; the use of party manifestos instead of legally mandated national development plans and what the author designates “excessive and fatal partisanship” (Panford 2017) and failure to check excesses of political appointees, “hacks” or operatives. Cases cited include: a Maritime Development Authority Executive who blatantly insists that his 4-Bedroom house needs 14 not 11 air conditioners paid for by the public; Parliament being a mere rubber stamp to ruling parties’ wishes and commands; and how an NDC majority ensured that oil was used as collateral for loans in passing Petroleum Revenue Management Act (2011) A major main conclusion is that Ghana ‘s unwieldy and expensive governance is a bulwark to development. Instead, the state detracts from meeting basic needs and tackling revolutionary economic and technological challenges like applying Artificial Intelligence, robotics, green energy and sophisticated manufacturing systems and 5G and 6G communications that will lift massive numbers of Ghanaians out of poverty.

Keywords: elections, democracy, governance, neo-liberal economics and politics, and Multi-partism

DOI: 10.7176/JAAS/73-02

Publication date:June 30th 2021

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