“The Electoral Commission’s filing fee for presidential and parliamentary candidates, for instance, is restrictive, and I have heard the NPP deputy general secretary say, ‘Yes, the fee should be hiked so that smaller parties that are not serious will be cut out.’
“For me as a woman, it’s discriminatory, because women have a lower need for power than men. And what happens is that women would have to go and raise money, which opens us up to a lot of threats, including favours, sometimes sexual.
“So, for us women, it is discriminatory and restrictive.”
No values, more money
Dzogbenuku was speaking at a forum by the Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG) on the topic “Demonetising Electoral Politics, Strengthening Accountable Governance: Which Way Forward for Ghana?”.
She said the restrictions women face have contributed largely to making politics unattractive to them.
Although women represent about 51% of Ghana’s population, their representation and participation in politics have not undergone any significant change since the introduction of multiparty democracy.
Dzogbenuku told the forum the problem of women’s exclusion from politics is growing, hence the need to address it urgently. She recounted how her own clansmen denied knowledge of her in her home town because she did not give them money in the run-up to the December 2016 election.
Dzogbenuku said: “When first of all the people have been kept in poverty and they seem to think that the only value now is money and not values of pride and taking responsibility, we have the effect of monetisation.”
Dzogbenuku wants citizens and civil society to consider supporting smaller parties to give them a fair chance in the political landscape.
Speaking at the same forum, the Majority Leader in Parliament, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, described how the political parties’ internal structures give room for reinforcing the monetisation of politics and deepen corruption.
“Where we are heading towards is very slippery ground. Especially I shudder to think what may happen to this country two elections away from now. The parties don’t need polling station executives. If they do, it may be to … police the ballot boxes and make sure people turn out to vote,” he said.
“The polling station executives, the electoral area co-ordinators, constituency executive, all now see themselves as kingmakers and position themselves to extort money, to have kola nut, to have drinks and perhaps demand some fat envelopes.”
For his part, Alban Bagbin, the Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament, said: “We have had this since the 1996 election. There has been an increment in filing fees for prospective candidates for the presidential and parliamentary positions. Monetisation is real and its effect is disastrous.”