A senior political science lecturer at the University of Ghana says the New Patriotic Party (NPP)’s decision to allow the late Mfantseman MP’s wife to run on its ticket is a dicey one.
Prof Ransford Gyampo said despite allowing Ekow Kwansah Hayford’s wife, Ophelia Hayford to replace him is politically wise, there are several downsides to it.
In an opinion piece, he said, “in such a situation, where a ruling party’s occupancy of a parliamentary seat is not too secured; and where the incumbent MP from the ruling party, has been allegedly murdered, what “politically wise” thing would any serious political party interested in capturing political power do?
“They will, by all means, appeal to sympathy, and it would be a fundamental misunderstanding of how political parties in fledgeling democracies operate, to fault the NPP for imposing the mourning widow as a replacement of the MP, and slating the MP’s funeral rites one week to the 2020 parliamentary elections.”
This practice, he said is expected, as political parties grow and the country’s democracy develops; Mrs Ophelia Hayford is only the second widow to replace her deceased husband in Parliament after Lydia Alhassan of Ayawaso West Wuogon.
He was, however, quick to point out that despite the apparent good side of the practice, amongst other things, it was simply a display of partisan selfishness and a disregard for the interest of the widow and surviving children.
Also, the practice sacrifices culture and customary protocols for political opportunism.
Prof. Gyampo explained that “Widows and family members who go through such experience, are denied the rite of mourning their loved ones, just because a group of people need a certain parliamentary seat at all cost.”
He added that, the future of the widow and her children post-elections weren’t financially secured as, in the case of Ophelia Hayford, she had quit her job in the Police Service in order to be to fill her husband’s shoes.
“The widow, is being made to sacrifice her job as Police Officer, for a non-Ketu-South-like seat, that she can easily win in 2020 because of sympathy, but cannot be guaranteed victory beyond the victory.
“Will the party take care of her and the children when she loses her seat and no longer has a job with the police service?”
He further warned that the practice if further encouraged could possibly lead to future contract killings of MPs, this time, instigated by their spouses.
“We must also be careful not to perpetuate this precedence. Else, very soon, some unscrupulous people who have marital issues with their spouse, may be plotting murder as a mean of getting selected to parliament,” he said.
Finally, he questioned the quality of representation these widows would give their constituents, considering the fact that the only reason they were even suggested for the position was because their husbands had died.
He said this could seriously undermine quality representation in parliament.
“We must be in the know that, the practice of asking widows to replace their dead husbands in parliament, may be dangerous and soon undermine quality representation, particularly, if the only driving force to push a certain segment of the citizenry to parliament, is the loss of their spouse,” he said.
Prof Gyampo called on political parties to be committed to their ultimate purpose of capturing political power, however, cautioned that “the quest for political power must not usher us into a regime of sacrificing timeless principles, institutions, rules, customs, and traditions for political expediencies.”