After Independence, Nkrumah Gave Us Democracy Not a Republic | ILAPI

The name Nkrumah is sensitive and most “Nkrumahists” are quick to react to anything mentioned about Nkrumah. Reading this article with a defensive mind would not allow you to appreciate the cabal system we have as a nation. The cabal is reaping the country at everyone's expense. This is because we have democracy, not a republic.

Ghana after gaining independence in 1957 continued to exhibit itself as a democratic country though we gained a republican status on 1st July 1960. There was little or no control of power in the democracy created at the time. Power was yield without limitation leading to the immense human rights violation in Ghana. The absolute power reign under a system of parliamentary supremacy, therefore, the only limitation was that the parliament could not pass a law to change the gender of a man. There were laws enacted specifically mentioning the name of individuals to be deported which is Deportation (Othman Larden and AmaduBoda) Act 1957 (Act No. 19). Also, under section 55 of the constitution 1960, the president was given special powers to do anything he considers to be in the national interest by legislative instrument. Significantly, under section 2 of the Prevention Detention Act, 1958, allowed for detention without trial, as demonstrated in the case of Re Akoto.

Having the opportunity to set a better tone of the nation, what Nkrumah gave us was the democracy with little check on the usage of power. It is not surprising that in modern Ghana, journalists are beaten because it is a matter of national security. Your property can be taken from you or demolished just because power is not in your court. You can be frustrated as a businessman because someone has political powers to do so. Political party's chairmen and executives have more powers than what the constitution accords to political parties as an institution of democracy. The whole country is organized around the next election. An action is only wrong if it will not help to win power in the next election. Democracy is expensive however, that is the underlying orientation the country is set on.

The founding father of the United State of America never envisioned a democracy but a republic. It is easy to confuse oneself because the word 'Republic' is used by countries wielding unlimited powers. This is because, in the 20th century, countries that yield powers more than traditional monarchical state claimed usage of the word 'Republic' hence saturating its meaning wrongly. The American Revolution and French Revolution among others contributed to breaking away from absolutism in the 17th and 18th centuries, yet some countries went back to creating regimes that were powerful than traditional monarchs. Countries like the Republic of Chile under Augusto Pinochet, totalitarian regimes like the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and highly rated the Democratic Republic of the Congo under Mobutu SeseSeko Kuku NgbenduWaZaBanga are among few.

Jean Bodin defines a republic as 'the rightly ordered government of a number of families, and of those things which are their common concern, by a sovereign power'. This definition excludes tyrannies because the object is not on common good but private gains. When individual families are better off, the country as a whole becomes better off. James Madison draws a distinction between a democracy and a republic in one of the 85 essays, thus Federalist papers, pure democracy is "a society consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the government in person," and a republic is "a government in which the scheme of representation takes place." Many people whine about America's electoral college system but it is one of the schemes that their founding fathers envision to give minority groups a bigger say than democracy would have given.

After the 2016 election in the USA, which got president Donal Trump to be White House against popular votes, revealed the significance of the electoral college. Walter Williams in his article 'why we a republic not a democracy' in 2018 made a comparative analysis of the power given to the state with few populations. Walter aptly puts it that Wyoming states with 600,000 population have three electoral college votes thus one electoral vote per 200,000 people, however, California state with a population of 39 million have 55 electoral votes thus approximately one electoral per 750,000 people. Therefore, people in Wyoming have nearly four times the power in the electoral college as Californians. Not deciding who becomes the president by majority rule is not democracy.

The view to found America as a republic is one that has a lasting connotation. No wonder that after independence, coup de tat became common as breakfast although breakfast was not so much. The coup de tat phenomenon was a feature in most African states as PLO Lumumba noted. Ghana has had 21 years of military regime and this could have been avoided if the nation was set off as a republic and not a democracy. America as a republic has lasted for about 229 years and this can be attributed to the foresight its founders had.

Also, institutions work effectively in a republic. Politics in Ghana and Africa is a great venture to amass wealth and political crimes are massaged, not dealt with. Even justice is expensive. You cannot progress without kickbacks. This is because our democratic institutions are weak. The truth is I am not the first to say it. In a democracy, institutions are married and at the whims of the reigning majority in power.

We have a duty to re-orient our society to depict a true republican status and not just as part of its name as 'The Republic of Ghana'. The system we have just as a cabal benefits few and little will be done to change its orientation because the system allows the few to be all-powerful and control everything once in power. Education is the key to gain one's freedom. Happy 63rd Independence day.


Article by

Nathaniel Dwamena

He is a free-market enthusiast and the Research and Development Manager at the Institute for Liberty and Policy Innovation (ILAPI).

Source: ILAPI