Established amongst the farming communities that constitute the majority of the Ghanaian hinterlands is the practice known as “by day,” it is a custom that is as old as time. It involves the engagement of farmhands for a stipulated period to help a farm owner with the processes involved in the preparation of farmlands for planting.
The defining characteristic of this practice is its payment structure which requires that the engaged farmhands are given a daily wage ergo they are paid “by-day”. This essay will consider whether the philosophy of this old custom used in farming communities may prove a promising prospect for the salvation of democracy in Ghana.
Toward the end of the medieval period, papal rule begun to lose its grip over Europe and the politico-legal identity of Europe was turning away from natural law. By the Renaissance period, Enlightenment theorists such as Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, and Kant had established positivism as the leading political thought in Europe and across the Atlantic. The idea of the emerging social contract theory was that governors of states occupied such office due to the acceptance, unequivocal or implied, of the governed that enabled said governors to make laws to provide rights and ascribes obligations to them. An important question that became apparent following the popularization of the social contract theory was that of sovereignty. Who makes the rules and why do subjects follow the rules that this person makes?
It is pertinent in a quest for these answers to look to the writings of A.V Dicey and John Locke. Dicey in his Introduction to the study of the law of the Constitution (1885) distinguished between legal sovereignty and political sovereignty. The former comprises the sovereign as recognized by the constitutive rules of a particular legal system thence Parliament is recognized as sovereign in the United Kingdom and the Constitutions of republics will self-proclaim their sovereignty (see for example Article 1(2) 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana).
Political sovereignty, on the other hand, is primarily vested in the people themselves and is perhaps best exemplified in democracies by the use of “universal adult suffrage”. It is the basis for which several liberal sources have touted political participation as inexorable from good governance.
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