Political Polarisation Can Spell Doom For Ghana –Afenyo-Markin  

The Majority Leader of the Parliament of Ghana, Alexander Afenyo-Markin, has sounded the alarm bell on the rising impunity in Ghana, warning that it poses a significant threat to the country’s democracy.

In a passionate speech in Parliament on Wednesday, July 3, 2024 Afenyo-Markin highlighted the growing trend of political polarisation, where the political class is more focused on outdoing each other than working together for national progress.

Mr Afenyo Markin- Majority Leader in Parliament

He lamented that the youth, who are often touted as a critical driver of development, are being left behind due to scarce entrepreneurship and employment opportunities. Even in sectors like construction, Ghanaian artisans are losing jobs to foreigners, he noted.

“While the political elite focuses on electoral battles and building political capital, a significant portion of the population, including the youth, is being left behind.

“Consequently, the demographic potential of our youth, often praised as a critical driver of development, remains largely untapped. Entrepreneurship and employment opportunities are scarce, and even those few opportunities face challenges”, he noted.

Afenyo-Markin acknowledged the government’s efforts to address these challenges through social intervention programs, but emphasized that more needed to be done.

He urged the political class to put aside their differences and work together to address the underlying causes of public discontent.

“Without the united support of the political class, many fall short of delivering the comprehensive results needed, resulting in counterproductive outcomes to our reasonable gains over the years. The consequences may be dire for our stability”, he posited.

He warned that frustrations and disillusionment among the masses, especially the youth, could lead to social and political unrest, citing the recent Gen Z activism in Kenya as a stark warning.

Afenyo-Markin who is also the MP for Effutu, called on his fellow lawmakers to recommit to a national agenda that leverages the potential of the youth and unlocks the massive development potential associated with the demographic dividend.

His speech echoed the concerns of many Ghanaians, with lawmakers from both sides of the House applauding him and contributed to the statement.

Haruna Iddrisu, former Minority Leader

MP for Tamale South and former Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, noted that even though Ghana is celebrating 30 years of parliament democracy, its dividends have not been to the satisfaction of many Ghanaians, citing the actions and inactions of the political class as the reason to buttress his argument.

“We expose ourselves to public ridicule and humiliation. And we expose ourselves because of mutual respect. It is simply because in Ghana we have reduced our politics to a contest of persons and not a contest of issues and ideas.

“It is no longer what is your merit and contributions to the governance process. It is now about who you are; where you come from? No, Mr. Speaker”, he accentuated.

He urged the political class to demonstrate respect for their persons if they want the public to respect them.

He also urged the lawmakers to be mindful of what they do on the floor of Parliament, which has consequences on the citizenry, noting that if their actions do not satisfy the expectations of the public, they may not be able to prevent the outcome of their anger.

The MP for Abuakwa South, Samuel Atta Akyea, emphasised the need to respect the rule of law in the society, underscoring that he will not endorse any form of violence in addressing grievances.

“When we have dissent; when some people believe that they are not having the best as they want to have, what is the recourse? Is violence an instrument of social engineering?

“We should answer that question. I am of the humble view that so far as people are elected under a constitution, you cannot use violence to improve upon the constitution”, he asserted.

MP for Odododiodio, Nii Lantey Vanderpuije, on his part shared his experience in Nairobi, where he, together with four other lawmakers, were caught in the middle of the demonstration staged by the youth.

“Sometimes, people will do the wrong thing for the right reason because when we push people to a level and they reach their zero-tolerance level, they will definitely react. Let’s not be deceived. Everybody wants peace; everybody would want to go by the right procedure to address issues. “But when people have the feeling and a sense of judgment that they are not being given a fair and level playing field, they will definitely react. It is a human reaction and there is nothing you can do about it”, he stressed.

He added “Mr Speaker, we were in Kenya, two weeks prior to 25th of June, the youth and the Gen Zs have demonstrated and demonstrated. What broke their heart was that that on Tuesday, in spite of their protestations, the National Chamber and the Senate sat and passed the Finance Bill. That is what we call impunity; that is when we the political class decide not to listen to the feelings and the cries of the people”.

Energy Minister and MP for Manhyia South, Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, also contributing to the statement said it is important for leaders of the society to ensure that food, shelter and clothing are provided.

He noted that it is even more dangerous to society when people purport to support democracy but end up being worse than they came.

“If we all claim to believe in society, we must be tolerant of each other. We must be each other’s keeper and prevent the fact that because you are not in leadership, the country must burn. That is the problem we are experiencing.

Some can’t tolerate hardship and the instantaneous gratification that we must always be in power is what leads some to agitate. The lesson from Kenya has been taught in Ghana before. Let us vow as leaders that we have to collaborate and compromise as leaders and be patient to wait for your time”, he said.

By Stephen Odoi-Larbi


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