Our History

Our History

(A Company limited by Guarantee)

The Centre for Democratic Transitions-Ghana (the Centre) is a Ghanaian-based international Think Tank that focuses on political transitions world-wide. It is registered in Ghana as a company limited by guarantee. The 4 guarantors and members of the Centre are Nana Ato Dadzie, a private legal practitioner and one-time Chief of Staff to the President of the Republic of Ghana; Professor Kwamena Ahwoi, a Professor of Governance with a background in Law and Ghana’s longest-serving Minister of Local Government (1988-2000); Honourable Julius Debrah, a sociologist and immediate past Chief of Staff to the President of the Republic of Ghana; and Dr. Callistus Mahama, a land economist and planning expert and immediate past Head of Ghana’s Local Government Service and Coordinator of the Inter-Ministerial Coordinating Committee on Decentralization. Their profiles are enclosed.

The Centre advises Governments on how to organize transitions from one constitutional Government to another constitutional Government formed by a different political party; transitions from a military Government to a civilian, constitutional Government; transitions from a centralized administrative system of governance to a decentralized administrative system of governance; and public sector reforms generally.

The Centre has been established against the background of the very difficult transitions that Ghana has gone through since 1993 and the pivotal roles that the members of the Centre played in those transitions. Their advice is also based on the invaluable experiences they have gained working on those transitions as well as experiences gained by some of them working on transitions in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, Nigeria and The Gambia.

Because of the long periods of one-party systems and military rule, many African countries do not have any experience of constitutional transitions and are therefore left at a loss when under the new wave of democratic dispensations in Africa and other countries, they are suddenly confronted with situations when they have to organize transitions for which their Constitutions and their laws have no provisions and for which they have no precedence or conventions. If care is not taken, their transitions can be chaotic as Ghana experienced in 2001 when it became very clear that it was difficult for the actors in the transition to distinguish between a “change” in Government and the “overthrow” of a Government.

Countries such as the Republic of South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe have no experience of such transitions and are likely to run into the kind of problems that Ghana faced when it had to deal with such transitions in 1993 and 2001 and to a lesser extent in 2009 and 2016. The members of the Centre have immense experience dealing with such situations in the four transitions that Ghana has gone through and are willing to share their knowledge and experience with other countries of the world which may face such situations in the future.

The assistance given by the Centre includes but is not limited to the organization of dialogue between the contesting parties; providing a framework for the transfer of power including the preparation of Transition Laws; the transfer of state assets and properties from the outgoing Government to the incoming Government; and arrangements for the physical re-location of members of the outgoing Government from their official residences.

Two of the members of the Centre (Nana Ato Dadzie and Professor Kwamena Ahwoi) were direct participants in the transfer of power from the Ghanaian military Government of the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) to the first constitutional Government of the Fourth Republic of Ghana in 1993 and gained considerable experience in how to negotiate the terms of the exit of the military rulers; the compromises to be made with the supporters of the military Government who would otherwise make the transition difficult if not impossible; as well as the terms of indemnity that should be offered to the exiting military Government in order to assure them of a safe landing and encourage them to hand over power.

The Centre also has expertise in the management of transitions from centralized systems of administration to decentralized systems of administration and public sector reforms generally. It involves convincing the officials of the centralized system to give up or cut down on their perks and privileges; developing the capacities of the local level officials to receive the transferred functions and powers and perform and exercise them effectively and efficiently; preparing new legislations on the decentralized system; identifying revenue sources for the local governments in line with the requirements of fiscal decentralization; and installing a system of checks and balances at the local level so that the problems associated with centralized administration such as corruption, nepotism, cronyism, abuse and misuse of power and general administrative injustice are not replicated at the local level in the decentralized system.

With general public sector reforms, the Centre is in a position to advise on ministerial realignments, civil service reforms, capacity-building and incentive-packaging. It also has expertise in advising on an effective interface between central government and local government as well as central control of local government such that the cohesion of the nation-state is maintained while at the same time, the local autonomy required under decentralization is also assured.