Home Politics Yaw Nsarkoh Criticizes Ghana’s Democracy as Ritualistic Political Tokenism

Yaw Nsarkoh Criticizes Ghana’s Democracy as Ritualistic Political Tokenism

You have a democracy that claims to be for the people but the people’s participation is a cyclical four-year token ritualistic element

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Yaw Nsarkoh Criticizes Ghana's Democracy as Ritualistic Political Tokenism

Yaw Nsarkoh’s critique highlights significant flaws in Ghana’s democratic process and calls for a shift towards more inclusive, merit-based, and long-term-focused governance. His insights challenge current leaders to rethink their approach to politics and governance, aiming for a system that truly benefits all Ghanaians.

Yaw Nsarkoh Criticizes Ghana’s Democracy as Ritualistic Political Tokenism

Yaw Nsarkoh, former Executive Vice President of Unilever Ghana and Nigeria, has offered a scathing critique of Ghana’s democratic system, labelling it as “ritualistic political tokenism.” His remarks were made during an unaired episode of “FRANK TALK,” hosted by Fred Avornyo on the Accra Times’ flagship current affairs show.

Nsarkoh’s primary concern is that Ghana’s democracy is failing to genuinely involve its citizens. He stated, “You have a democracy that claims to be for the people but the people’s participation is a cyclical four-year token ritualistic element where they come out to cast their ballot and they are forgotten.” This statement underscores his belief that the democratic process in Ghana is superficial and excludes meaningful citizen participation beyond elections.

Santa Claus Democracy and Its Implications

Nsarkoh coined the term “Santa Claus Democracy” to describe the current political climate, where popularity and short-term gains are prioritized over merit and long-term planning. He criticized the selection process for leaders, emphasizing that “because someone was famous on the campaign trail, they are the ideal candidate for the job? I don’t think we need to overstate the obvious: it’s a bad recipe.”


He argued that this approach undermines meritocracy and leads to the collapse of competent governance. The result is a government that struggles to uphold its legal obligations, creating a vacuum filled by various funding sources that weaken political culture.

The Robinson Crusoe Society

Nsarkoh described Ghana as a “Robinson Crusoe society,” where values and principles have collapsed, and the nation drifts without ethics. He linked this state to the combination of an incompetent government and a superficial democracy, which he believes leads to significant societal problems.

Populism and Political Short-termism

Nsarkoh also highlighted the prevalence of populist positions among politicians, particularly during election seasons. He noted that politicians tend to avoid substantial issues, such as land reforms, due to the fear of losing votes. “There’s a real fear that if you bring up these topics, you’ll lose some votes because of the short-termism that permeates our politics these days,” he explained.

Class-based Politics and Incomplete Decolonization

According to Nsarkoh, Ghana’s politics are primarily driven by the upper class, who are focused on their own interests rather than the broader national interest. He argued that post-independence Africa, including Ghana, has not fully decolonized, leading to a scenario where a new indigenous black elite replaced the colonial rulers, capturing the state apparatus for themselves.

Call for Genuine Leadership and Engagement

Nsarkoh emphasized the need for leaders who genuinely engage with the public and are held accountable. He questioned the effectiveness of Ghana’s democracy, stating, “It’s a fact that people today can’t focus for longer than two weeks, so if you’re the leader of Ghana, you have to get through two weeks before people forget what the problem was.”

Path Forward for Ghana’s Political Leadership

For Ghana to progress, Nsarkoh believes that strong political leadership is essential. Leaders must prioritize fostering citizen trust, accountability, and transparency. They should also support autonomous institutions that uphold the rule of law and provide effective services. Additionally, there is a need for leadership that unites the diverse nation and focuses on improving the quality of life for all its citizens.

Vesta Daily
Author: Vesta Daily

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