Referendum: ‘Our political parties have robbed people their right to think differently’ – Manasseh uses Ras Mubarak as a case study.
Investigative Journalist, Manasseh Azure Awuni, has expressed disappointment in Member of Parliament for Kumbungu, Ras Mubarak for not standing by his decision to vote “Yes” in the upcoming December 17 referendum.
The Member of Parliament had tossed out his party, the National Democratic Congress’ ‘No vote’ position and publicly campaigned for a ‘Yes’ vote.
However, less than six-hours after making his decision public, the vocal MP was summoned to appear before the party’s Functional Executive Committee (FEC).
The encounter whipped him into party lines, compelling him to make a U-turn to vote ‘No’ in the referendum.
The move appears to have tickled nerves in the Investigative Journalist. Azure, who says he will vote ‘No’ in the referendum, was less than charitable in his reaction to the MP’s latest decision.
“Ras Mubarak, I’m disappointed in you. I am voting “No”. Your party is voting “No.” But you decided to go for “Yes”. I respected you for that. That is what we call democracy, the freedom to have independent minds, the freedom to choose and disagree with the position of others without being coerced.”
“I have read a post in which you said you have decided to go by what your party says and not what you believe in. That is dictatorship, and you must not allow it. You belong to a party but that does not mean you should cede your mind and your right to make your own choice to the party.”
“What this means is that very soon, if we allow the local level to be partisan, the assembly members and unit committee members cannot oppose anything in the assembly even if they think it is wrong, but their party thinks otherwise. They simply have to go by their party’s position, like what currently happens in parliament.”
“This is the reason all well-meaning Ghanaians should VOTE NO! Our political parties have robbed people their right to think differently. You either belong to NDC or NPP. You either support your party’s position or you’re a traitor. This is not democracy.
To amend the constitution to allow political parties to participate in local government elections, at least 40 per cent of eligible voters have to turn up with at least 75 percent of the voters thumbing ‘Yes’ for the campaign to succeed.
The constitutional requirement underscores the need for the government to gather bi-partisan support and form a coalition of stakeholders in civil society, traditional authorities and religious groups to back the YES campaign.
But there are developing fractures among stakeholders. The National House of Chiefs appears divided. The NDC, which during the consultative stages pledged support for political party participation in local polls, now says it will campaign against it.
The opposition party wants some concerns addressed if it is to change its stance.