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The rise of second-generation politicians in Ghana

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President Akufo-Addo, Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia and the NDC’s John Mahama are all second-generation politicians.

Akufo-Addo’s father, Justice Edward Akufo-Addo was the ceremonial President in the second republic – Dr Bawumia’s father, Alhaji Mumuni Bawumia was MP, Minister and Chairman of the Council of State and John Mahama’s father, EA Mahama was an MP and Minister under the Nkrumah regime.

The current Parliament has a number of politicians taking after their parents in there. Dr Zanetor Rawlings (Daughter of President Rawlings), Farouk Aliu Mahama (Son of Vice President Aliu Mahama), Dakoaa Newman (Daughter of Political Activist Victor Newman) and Dr Betty Krosbi Mensah (Daughter of Former MP, Krosbi Mensah) are all following in the footsteps of their parents in politics.

For MP for Afram Plains North, Dr Betty Krosbi Mensah, irrespective of the fact that her father, Krosbi Mensah was also MP, her path into politics and Parliament was not easy.

“When I even went round, I saw that in the deepest of rural communities there were some level of infrastructure that the people attributed to my father, yet still the community came out to say that because my father did not perform, I wasn’t fit to handle the position and so to some extent, I wouldn’t say it gave me a lead but I believe sincerely as a person holding that office must have definitely had an impact,” she said

Ralph Poku-Adusei has just won the NPP primary to contest the safe seat of Bekwai, beating national police sensation, COP Rtd Alex Mensah. Three generations of his family have been involved in UP-NPP politics.

He owes his trajectory to the influence of his forebears.

“My father is a founding member of the Bekwai Constituency. As a matter of fact, when you look at the history, he was the first elected constituency chairman and then naturally brought my interest in politics up. Not forgetting that my father’s younger brother was the Member of Parliament elected in the year 2000 and 2001 and he served under His excellency the former President John Agyekum Kufuor for eight (8) good years.”

But is this a good trend? The views from the streets of Accra are varied. Samuel Kuma, a Civil Servant interviewed indicated, ”If we allow children of politicians to take charge, we still wouldn’t have a feel of the country and moreover we are complaining of embezzlement and mismanagement, and it is a trend. It will still go in that direction.”

Abena Sawyerr, a student differs in opinion. She says, ”Some of the politicians are very good and they pass this on to their kids and an example is late Jerry John Rawlings’ daughter. Zanetor Rawlings is doing so well as the MP for Klottey Korle constituency.”

In the UK Parliament, there are 67 MPs who are related to current or former MPs and in the US, the Kennedys, Bushes, Du Ponts among others are established political families.

For Political Historian at the KNUST, Prof Samuel Adu-Gyamfi, the phenomenon presents merits and demerits, but a lot more is expected of these second-generation politicians because they have to live up to their family names.

“It should not just be privileges to move to a certain height by virtue of family name or a kind of glory which your parents had some years ago. You rather have the privilege and opportunity to pursue your own ambition within the realm of what you have learnt from your father. When you come only by virtue of what your father has been able to do over the period, you may falter, fumble and may not live up to expectation” he argues.

Dynasties belong to the empires of yesteryears but in a democratic setting, politicians are re-inventing the wheel to position succession in the bloodline, albeit through the ballot box at elections.

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