We as citizens of the United States observe politics from afar and the vast majority of us may participate in the political process only to the extent that we go to the polls once a year to vote. We may endeavor to follow the news accounts of our nation's politics as they unfold, and of the consequences those political actions yield, but we have little power to influence our "democratically" elected officials. Perhaps we write an occasional letter to our senator or representative, but we almost inevitably receive a vague and impersonal response explaining why they will vote in our opposition.

Over the decades, our representative democracy has been systematically undermined and has ultimately failed in preserving the well being of the people of this nation. The system that the founding fathers painstakingly devised in order to best serve the interests and the will of the people has been corrupted and the systems of checks and balances on power that they instituted have been stripped away. Most of us accept this reality as being beyond our control and continue to observe, comment, and complain without aspiring to achieving any real change, without any hope of instituting a new system of governance that would instead take directly into account your views, and the views of your neighbors, and would empower you to make real positive change possible in your communities.

This site will attempt to explore in depth the places in the world where people are successfully bringing about that type of change in the face of similar odds, where an alternate form of democracy, which is called participatory or direct democracy, is taking root. Initiative, referendum & recall, community councils, and grassroots organizing are but a few ways in which direct/participatory democracy is achieving great success around the world.

Our system of representative democracy does not admit the voice of the people into congressional halls, the high courts, or the oval office where our rights and our liberties are being sold out from underneath us. Our local leaders and activists in our communities, and even those local elected officials who may have the best of intentions are for the most part powerless to make real positive change happen in our neighborhoods, towns and villages when there is so much corruption from above.

In places like Venezuela, Argentina, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Brazil, South Africa, India, and the Phillipines, new experiments in grass roots community based governance are taking place. There is much to be learned from these and other examples of participatory democracy from around the world when we try to examine how this grass-roots based governance could begin to take root here in our own country in order to alter our political system so that it might better serve the American people.

In the hope that one day we can become a nation working together as a united people practicing true democracy as true equals, we open this forum…


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

GHANA: Non-Partisan Committee to Promote Participatory Democracy

Two articles about a newly formed local non-partisan oversight council in Ghana which has as a stated aim the promotion of participatory democracy. - Editor

APRM oversight committee inaugurated in Nkoranza


Donkro Nkwanta (B/A) Oct. 3 GNA - Mr Paul Baffoe-Ansah, Chairman of the Oversight Committee of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) Governing Council in Nkoranza South District in Brong Ahafo has noted that the under-development of many African countries was due to the slave trade that took away energetic and reproductive youth to work in foreign lands. He called on African leaders to unite to enable them to come out with better ideas, policies and measures that would enhance the development of their countries. Mr Baffoe-Ansah, who is the Secretary of Nkoranza South branch of Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), was addressing chiefs and people of Donkro Nkwanta at the inauguration of the oversight committee in the district. Other executives of the committee are the Reverend Emmanuel Osei, Vice Chairman, Miss Agartha Osei, Secretary and Mr Kwame Osei, Financial Secretary.

The rest are Miss Margaret Ankomah Mansah, Nana Amah Pokuaa, Mr Kwadwo Ansah, Miss Grace Baffoe and Mr Daniel Ohene Djan. Mr Baffoe-Ansah expressed regret about how coups d'etats and poor leadership had rendered some African countries unstable and advised Ghanaians not to allow partisan politics to divide the nation and stall its development. He explained that the APRM was a non-partisan body formed in the various communities to assist in promoting participatory democracy among the people so they could participate in the decision-making process. The District Chairman urged the Ghanaian leadership to let the welfare of the people and the country's development be a priority and to initiate policies that would help improve the living standards of the people.

Mr Baffoe-Ansah called for effective collaboration among political parties, traditional and religious authorities in organizing the people to contribute their quota towards national development. Mr Yaw Effah-Manu, District Director of National Commission for Civic Education, appealed to the nation's leadership to ensure that poverty, diseases and hunger were eradicated so the people could live comfortably. He urged the people to support the committee to achieve its target of promoting democracy in the country. Farmers at the forum appealed to the government to construct feeder roads to help them to convey their produce to marketing centres.


MMDA’s cautioned


The Chairman of the Governing Council of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), Reverend Professor S.K. Adjepong, has cautioned Municipal and District assemblies against interfering in the activities of oversight committees of the council since they do not belong to any political party.

He was speaking at the inauguration of oversight committees for Kintampo North, Kintampo South and Nkoranza North districts at Kintampo.

“The committees are independent bodies challenged with the responsibility to find from the people their views about the governance of the nation, as stakeholders in national development”, he said.

The Rev Professor Adjepong explained that the APRM was aimed at monitoring and tracking the programmes of some African governments who are expected to give account of their stewardship to their people at a given period to enhance participatory democracy.

He urged members of the oversight committees to be good role models but to guard against partisan politicking, be loyal and submissive to win the support of the people.

A member of the governing council, Professor S.K.B. Asante, commended the committee members for offering to take up the voluntary but Herculean task to serve the state, saying they were establishing legacies as responsible citizens.


[2008-05-12 02:24:38]

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