By Samuel Ansah Boateng
Contributions of political parties to Ghana’s development over the years, notwithstanding its divide cannot be overlooked despite the huge setbacks experienced. Infrastructure wise, there have been few projects the two top political parties; the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), can boast of.
However, rivalry between and within the political parties for control over the management of infrastructure projects can be debilitating, with opposing parties rarely completing projects initiated under other administrations, Dr. Cadman Mills, brother of Late President John Evans Mills, has said.
According to him, the $3 billion Chinese Development Bank Infrastructure facility that was negotiated under the NDC, despite the critical importance of the facility for the then-nascent oil and gas sector, railways, fisheries, and agriculture, the opposition parties were, expectedly, very hostile to the facility.
‘’Moreover, there was intense competition among leading members of the NDC to represent Chinese contractors. The result was that contracts awarded under the facility rarely went through any meaningful competitive bidding. Some planned projects were simply abandoned due to difficulties in arbitrating between rival NDC representatives of Chinese contractors’’, he noted.
Giving a brief narration of the Ghanaian politics and how it had affected democracy, former World Bank Macroeconomic Policy Sector Manager, who also doubles as former Senior Economic Advisor to the Vice President of the Africa Region of the World Bank hinted, that notwithstanding the benefits of democracy, though, some aspects of the democratic process in Africa can insert inefficiencies in policy formulation and implementation, ethnic affiliations had played much less a role in Ghanaian politics than elsewhere in Africa.
Particularly in Ghana, Dr. Mills explained that Party support in the country is often compared to the fan base of football or sports clubs. Party affiliations are strong and passionate but are rarely based on the ethnicity of the political candidate
‘’The political parties define themselves by ideology. The NDC claims social democracy while the NPP is liberal democratic. There are also differences in the geographic support base of the two dominant parties. The Ashanti Region is NPP’s stronghold while the Volta and Northern Regions reliably vote for the NDC’’, he affirmed.
“The Accra Metropolis as well as the Central and Western Regions are typically swing regions. The parties also attempt to distinguish themselves by touting “competence,” past record, and the character of their leadership (honesty, corruptibility, charisma, and modesty). Remarkably, neither the NPP nor the NDC draws its support from any identifiable socio-economic group. In fact, party supporters appear to be no more than associations of prominent individuals and their followers or “fan clubs”, he added