The Coalition for Democratic Accountability and Inclusive Governance, also known as Citizens’ Coalition, has asked the government to render comprehensive accountability to the citizenry for state funds, interventions and offices.
It says, it actively opposed “state capture by party or other private interests; public and private corruption, nepotism and patronage; abuse of power and impunity; ethnocentrism and misogyny; religious extremism; violence against citizens and groups by security agencies; coups d’etat; authoritarianism and government repression; electoral corruption, the use of violence and or vigilantism to resolve disagreements of any kind and/or to win political office.
It is made up of 34 civil society organizations and 10 individuals, including lawyers, lecturers, media practitioners among others.
It said that “the socio-economic and governance challenges have reached critical dimensions. Ghanaians have, in recent months, been experiencing a very rapid deterioration of their living conditions occasioned partly by the persistent depreciation of the cedi; leading to a severe weakening of the purchasing power of most working people, and the unprecedented steep rise in the cost of living as food prices continue to soar.
“Prices of petroleum products are on the rise; affecting the cost of transportation amongst other things. Rent is equally high. These factors have invariably affected the cost of health care amongst Ghanaians, as well as other basic necessities. Then there is the monster of mass youth unemployment. Sadly, measures taken by authorities so far do not seem to have the potency to mitigate these serious challenges.
However, “the popular refrain by our political leaders is that the prevailing socio-economic challenges are a global phenomenon occasioned by the combined effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia/Ukraine war. This rhetoric by our leaders is almost to suggest that until these two separate events have ceased, nothing can be done to mitigate the challenges we face. It’s also an implicit suggestion that Ghanaians should simply live through the crisis with stoic silence. This posturing of government has created widespread discontent among citizens and a majority of Ghanaians have become desperate.
It said corruption in the public secto,r remained an existential threat to democracy which had eaten dangerously into party politics, public procurement and threatened to overwhelm the country.
“Despite the government’s interventions like the Office of the Special Prosecutor the provision of resources to some anti-corruption agencies and the passage of the Right to Information law had not made progress in the fight against public corruption,” the Coalition lamented.
Nana Asantewaa Afadzinu, the Executive Director of West Africa Civil Society Institute, and member of the coalition, who made the call at the launch of the coalition in Accra, echoed the call on the Auditor General to exercise his powers under the 1992 Constitution to issue surcharges and disallowances against persons cited for various financial irregularities in the 2019 and 2020 Auditor General’s Reports.
She recounted that in 2018, Daniel Domelovo, then Auditor General, recovered more than GH¢66 million back to government coffers through surcharges and expressed the Coalition’s worry over recent publications of the media in May and June 2022, which showed wanton disregard of already weak asset and liability declarations.
Nana Afadzinu, revealed that according to information from the Auditor General published by the media, about 10,000 public office holders, had declared their assets and liabilities, but demanded the Auditor General direct all defaulting public officers to comply with the constitutional requirement immediately.
She urged the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice to take appropriate action against defaulting public officials which included initiating legal action against defaulters to enforce compliance or in lieu of compliance, have the courts impose sanctions on them, pursuant to its mandate under the Constitution and the Commission’s ACT.
“It is our firm expectation that by the end of August 2022, all defaulting public officers would have fully complied with the asset and liabilities declaration regime,” Nana Afadzinu noted.
“Sadly, measures taken by authorities so far do not seem to have the potency to mitigate these serious challenges. The popular refrain by our political leaders is that the prevailing socio-economic challenges are a global phenomenon occasioned by the combined effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia/Ukraine war. This rhetoric by our leaders is almost to suggest that until these two separate events have ceased, nothing can be done to mitigate the challenges we face. It’s also an implicit suggestion that Ghanaians should simply live through the crisis with stoic silence. This posturing of government has created widespread discontent among citizens and a majority of Ghanaians have become desperate.
Although, it admits that the country’s economy has challenges which have clearly been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the effects of the Russia/Ukraine war, the problems go much deeper than these two factors.
It said “the underlining causes of these problems relate to the way in which, over the last three decades, successive governments and the bureaucracy have run the country and managed the economy, without any coherent planning. Our challenges are exacerbated by the indiscipline with which projects are implemented, poorly thought through public investment and a lack of any persistent and deliberate serious attempt at promoting local production capacity and industrialization.
Our public expenditure is characterized by a needless waste of public resources without due regard to fiscal responsibility rules. What is more frustrating and to put it bluntly, annoying/provocative, is the insensitive in-your-face opulence ‘V8-lifestyle’ of our elected/appointed public officials and bureaucratic elite—a lifestyle funded by the taxpayer. Abuse of power and impunity have become a way of life of the political class, irrespective of which party is in office.
“Political party patronage, plain grand theft and corruption in high places have characterized successive governments. Electoral promises to fight corruption in government continue to remain just that—promises. We continue to witness one corruption scandal after the other; with the recent ones being more astonishing than the previous scandals. A recent example is the infamous criminal land-grabbing scandal of the immediate-past CEO of the Forestry Commission and Former General Secretary of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP), the late Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie (known in political circles as ‘Sir John’). This way of life of the political and bureaucratic elite can be traced to various causes including, but not limited to, the near monopoly of executive power in appointments to the public service and parastatals, which continues to be a conduit for political patronage and cronyism.
“Meanwhile, the two main parties have captured the media landscape by allocating to their members and cronies, radio and television frequencies that they use to hunt down and let loose their hordes of paid party communicators to silence patriots who dare raise their voices against the continuing rape of the nation.
“To compound the crisis of leadership, the ugly role of unregulated party campaign financing has made our fledgling democracy hostage to moneybags, who are not publicly declared and whose source of finance remain unknown and unseen. The danger with this mode of campaign financing is that criminal rackets may soon and easily become the major source of party financing which would further compound our governance challenges.
It said, “We are gravely concerned that these developments, if not checked, would continue to pose an ever-increasing existential threat to our democracy. It would embolden misguided political actors and elements and even sections of our population, particularly our youth, who see no relief in the existing state of affairs, to consider as appropriate, disruptive and authoritarian alternatives to constitutional democracy.
This is why a number of civil society organisations and individuals, have come together to form this non-partisan coalition/movement which would harness democratic processes of mass education and mobilization to stem the dangerous trend and assure democratic renewal, economic and social justice. This movement shall be known as the Coalition for Democratic Accountability and Inclusive Governance, CITIZENS’ COALITION for short.
“We invite all citizens and non-state organizations to join us in this quest to halt our democratic decline and secure inclusive governance and development. In that regard, every organisation or individual who wishes to be a member of the Coalition for Democratic Accountability and Inclusive Governance (Citizens’ Coalition) shall subscribe the principles of putting the interest of Ghana first, above all else; accountable and transparent governance; a living wage for working people, youth employment, training and capacity building; an inclusive society and diversity; social and economic equity in allocation of national resources, strategic planning and meaningful decentralization of power and resources
“It also committed to freedom of expression and dissent including media freedom; respect for fundamental human rights generally an ethical conduct; gender equality and equity in appointments and allocation of public resources and in public life, including economic participation; meritocracy in appointment of public officials; promoting local manufacturing and industrialization; democratic, transparent and accountable political parties and key policy and constitutional reforms to make our democracy work and produce dividends for the people; active support for Ghanaian farmers and entrepreneurs;
“The broad access to quality education and health for all irrespective of social and economic circumstances; Preserving and conserving environmental integrity and natural resources regional and continental integration.