The Chief Whip of the Majority Caucus of STUDENTS’ PARLIAMENT OF GHANA
UNIVERSITY OF EDUCATION, WINNEBA
KUMASI CAMPUS HOUSE schooled the house on Democratic politics and governance in Africa in his statement laid on the floor of the house at the 4th Sitting of the 12th Parliament.
Below is full statement presented.
STUDENTS’ PARLIAMENT OF GHANA
UNIVERSITY OF EDUCATION, WINNEBA
KUMASI CAMPUS HOUSE
Statement to be laid by the Majority Chief Whips to Students’ Parliament of Ghana, University of Education, Winneba-Kumasi Campus House for the 1st Sessions of the 4th Sitting of the 12th Parliament.
Agoma Abengiba Simon
TITLE OF STATEMENT
The rotten nature of democratic politics and governance in Africa
1st November, 2018
Tel: 0242- 35 72 69
Definitions of key terms
Presidential and parliamentary systems
Features of presidential form of government
Features of parliamentary systems
Differences between parliamentary and presidential system of government
Essential characteristics of the presidential system of government
The rot in African leadership
Suggested ways by which African’s can strengthen their presidential system of government.
DEFINITION AS OF KEY TERMS
Democratic According to the Merriam web star dictionary: is a form of government in which the people choose leaders by voting.
According to the Merriam Webster dictionary is activities that relate to influencing the actions and polices of a government or getting and keeping power in a government.
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary is the what that a city, company or state is controlled by the people who run it.
Presidential and Parliamentary Systems
Presidential system by Wikipedia, A presidential system is a democratic and republican system of government where a head of government leads an executive branch that separate from the legislative branch. This head of government is in most cases also the head of state, which is called president.
Features of Presidential form at Government
The president is the real executives
The powers of the three (3) organs namely legislature, executive, and judiciary are separated and vested in different persons.
Though the three organs of the government are kept apart, they are also connected by the system of checks and balances.
The tenure of the president is fixed.
Parliamentary System by Wikipedia
A parliamentary system is a system of democratic governance of a state where the executives’ branch derives its democratic legitimacy from its ability to command the confidence of the legislature branch, typically a parliament, and is also held accountable, to that parliament. In a parliamentary system, the head of state is usually a person distinct from the head of government. This is contrast to a presidential system, where the head of state often is also the head of government and most importantly, the executive branch does not derive its democratic legitimacy from the legislature. Countries with parliamentary democracies may be constitutional monarchies, where a monarch is the head of state while the head of government is almost always a member of parliament.
Countries such as the United Kingdom, Denmark, Sweden and Japan or a parliamentary republic, where a mostly ceremonial president is the head of state while the head of government is regularly from the legislature such as Ireland, Germany, India and Italy.
In few parliamentary republics like Botswana, and South Africa among others, the head of government is also head of state, but is elected by and it’s answered to parliament.
Features of Parliamentary Systems
Legislature and executive are closely related and share powers with each other.
Cabinet is formed by the parliament and parliament is the superior organ.
There are two executives i.e. the elected president or king and the prime minister.
Cabinet is responsible before the legislature.
Differences between Parliamentary and Presidential Government
The major difference between these two systems is that in a presidential system, the executive leader, the president, is directly voted upon by the people through a body in charge of elections, specifically, for the purpose of electing the president, and no other purpose. While the executive leader of the parliamentary system, the prime minister, is elected form the legislature branch directly.
In the presidential system, it is more difficult to enact legislature, especially in the event that the president has different beliefs than the legislature body. The president only responds to the people. The legislature branch can’t really do anything to threaten the president. As a result, he can make it more difficult for the legislature body to do anything. Countries with the presidential system include:[Brazil, Benin, Mali, Sudan, Cameroon, Ghana and other 79 countries].
In the parliamentary system, if the parliament doesn’t like the prime minister, they can cast a vote of no confidence and replace him. This tends to make the executives leader subservient to the parliament. [Countries with the parliamentary system includes: [Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Australia, etc.]
The bottom line is that, if you believe that government should have more checks and balance, and then a presidential system will give you that. Then if you believe that it should have the power to enact lower quickly, then you should go for a parliamentary system.
Essential Characteristics of the Presidential System
It is very important to ask about the characteristics of the presidential system. Numerous authors have dealt much in these topics, few of the like is;
Maurice Duverger [1950s to 1970s] stated that the presidential system is characterized by the principle of the separation of powers, presidential appointment and removal of ministers and if these appointees are not politically responsible to the parliament, and then there will be checks and balances.
Joseph La Palomar wrote that in the presidential system.
The president who is both the head of state and that of government is independent of the legislature branch and therefore does not depend much or continuously on this branch for his existence or survival.
The legislative and executive branches are independent the legislature is not obligated to approve the bills sent by the executives and the executive can veto bill from congress
The president has the power of appointing people to certain position.
The executives can appeal directly to the people through plebiscites and referendums
The legislature branch can judge and remove the president.
The president has the power of appointing his cabinet members, presenting bills and preparing the budget.
The people elect the president and expect him to be their leader.
3. Paul Maurice Gaud met [1960s -1970s] characterizes the presidential system as one in which;
The president brings together the integrity of the executive jurisdiction and is both the head of state and the head of government.
The heads of the ministerial offices solely depend on the presidential authority, which is why they are usually called ministers.
The principle of separation of power is strictly applied.
The president is not politically responsible before congress but he cannot dissolve it either.
All of these notable points are not observed in African presidential systems, much less in their pure form but establishing their principles serves to determine whether a system is presidential or parliamentary or whether it is predominantly presidential or vice versa.
The gap between African presidential systems from that of the original Latin British presidential system
In presidential system, that is the balance of power tends to be more transparent since it aims at defining the limits between the executives and legislature, In Africa the party for that matter the president is the sole bearer of these three branches using their discretionary powers. Branches, even though seem to a have collaborative alliance, also portray characteristics of none independence at the same time though there are exceptions.
The presidential system in Africa has lost it relevance, it is been compromised. At the end of the 1980s a special interest in analyzing government system arises in an attempt to study the working of the presidential and parliamentarian regimes in depth as well as the problem of their stability. These studies have brought about renewed interest in knowing more about them. The distinguished scholar Juan Linz made headway in this sense.
All characteristic the presidential system in the following analysis, an attempt was made to point out which the essential elements of the system were; those that truly correspond to it and what differentiate it from other forms of government. Therefore, for Lint, the representative characteristics of presidential system are
Dual democratic legitimacy, due to the fact that both the president and the congress are elected by the people. This characteristic is not impaired even when the president is appointed by an electoral college, the members of which are elected by the people for that sole purpose.
The rigidity of the system since both branches are elected for a predetermined term and the president’s performance in office does not depend on the will of the legislative branch, whose existence, in turn does not depends on the presidents will then obviously will have a compromise system of government.
The Rot in African Leadership
The leaders of African country withdrawing from the international criminal court (ICC) meant the lack of accountability on the part of African leaders. This is one of the biggest reasons for African’s continuous underdevelopment, failing states and civil wars.
In Africa, the protection of corrupt, murderous dictatorial leadership is often more sacrosanct than the right of ordinary citizens, the public interest and the country’s well-being. Thus African presidents, institutional managers and the likes exhibiting bad leadership style, like dictatorship, over use of discretional powers, breaching of the constitutions, covering of corrupt officials, interfering in independents bodies and the arms of governments among many others.
In fact, impunity is one of the main reasons for instability in Africa. There are seemingly no consequences for autocratic behavior of leaders in corruption or stoking ethic divisions to stay in power forever.
International criminal court (ICC), however offers ordinary Africans a real alternative to hold their leaders accountable and stop them from getting away with the most brutality acts of crimes.
It is an undisputable fact that, since independence from colonialism, the judiciaries in many African countries have been controlled, suppressed and manipulated by corrupted presidents, leaders and governing parties. Continental and regional African judicial tribunals, courts and commissions, such as the Africa court of justice and human right, are often dismissed, ignored and laughed off by leaders.
In fact, in 2010, Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe led a charge to suspend the SADC Tribunal, because it had ruled in 2007 and 2008 that the expropriation without compensation of white Zimbabwean farmer Mike Campbell’s land was illegal. Campbell had approached the regional tribunal because he was refused the right to approach Zimbabwe courts.
The SADC Tribunal was set up to ensure member states adhere to the regional blocks SADC treaty, which obliges members to act “in accordance with human rights, democracy and the rule of law”. However, in 2012, SADC leaders decided that citizens could not lay complain against their own governments. We equally see some of these acts in many African countries, where presidents’ ordered for the arrest of individuals who criticized their government.
Strengthen the African Presidential System of Governance
Allowing the systems to work. The laid down principles of presidential governance should be observed.
The presidents of Africa must allow the independent arms of governments to operate on their own.
The electoral commission
The judiciary thus the law courts must be allowed to operate
The legislature must function
Between October, 1787 and May 1788, Hamilton Madison and JAY published seventy-seven articles in three different newspapers to explain and defend the constitutions of U.S African leader must therefore also respect and defend the constitutions.
African leader for that matter the presidential system should trance back to the original Latin British presidential system and avoid the abuse of the constitutional instrument.
African presidential systems should be ruled with the original mission and vision at our independence.
African presidential system needs to be strengthening by obeying the clear laid out boundaries of the three arms of government.
Collaborative leadership style should be adopted by African presidential systems where leaders listened to their subordinates.
Africans should change our mentality.
African states should take sole responsibilities of sponsoring political parties
Political parties should avoid sponsorships from individuals
The African constitution should be strictly amended to clearly spell out the number of ministers of state and government appointees per government.
African citizens should avoid pushing government officials into corruption thus by demanding much from them in terms of funerals, weddings, naming ceremonies among many others.
In order for us to allow the African governmental systems to work, we need to clean the current African governmental systems, thus by making very clear road map of long term national policies where any government that comes to power will have to strickly follow that in a very economic way.
Duverger, Maurice, Institutions, Politics Denech Constitutional, Barcelona, Ariel, 1962, P 319.
Linz, Juan J., “Presidential or Parliamentary Democracy: doesit Make a Difference”, inLint, Juan J. and Valenzuela, Arturo (Eds), the Failure of Presidential Democracy. Comparative Perspective, Baltimore, the John Hopkins University Perspectives Press, 1994, Val. 1, P6.
Lapalombora, Politics within Nations, New Jersey, Prentice-Hall 1974, Pp 198and 199.
Gandemet, Paul Marie, Le Pouvior Exéculit Duns Les Pay Accidentanx, Paris, Editions Montebrestien, 1966.P.16
This Statement Is Based On That of Loewenstern, Karl, Teoria dela Constitution, Barcelona, Ariel, 1965, Pp.105-107.
William Gumedc (2017), Restless Nation; Making Sense of Trouble Times.