Bizarre manifesto politics!

Author: Colin Essamuah
Political parties in Ghana

So many things are happening in and out of our dear country that one is wary and spoilt for choice as we all seek a general, binding theme to make sense out of all of them even as we get nearer to the presidential and parliamentary elections. In this country, we are awash in the new twist to the unending New Patriotic Party (NPP) quest for a new voters register, which is being played out in a serious contempt case at the Supreme Court, adjourned to next Monday for hearing.

Yes, the contempt case, serious and unfortunate as it is on its own merits, is just a variant of the clamour for a new biometric register by the NPP since the failure of the party to secure victory in its bizarre presidential election petition decided in August, 2013 by our Supreme Court.

 As a trained historian, I am convinced that future generations will read of this case as an addendum to the quest for a new voters register began by the NPP, and which quest has now been reduced to, or transmogrified into a judicial order to cleanse the existing register by removing the 56,000 plus voters who got their names on the register with their National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS)  identity cards. The court ruled that that mode of identification for the purposes of registration was unconstitutional.

But I am one of the few persons I know who truly believe that the actions of the Supreme Court since the inception of the 4th Republic in 1993 in relation to the Electoral Commission (EC) have been to strengthen and make it more fit for purpose in the pursuit of its duties. I make bold to say that as a result, our EC is now one of the best in the world. This level of efficiency has not necessarily been the result of some of the pointless litigations the august forum has been called on to resolve, but rather, the stark realisation by our judges that the EC must be seen by all of us as a credible and independent national institution.


Externally, the most important news this week for us as Ghanaians is the accession to office of the new British Prime Minister, Mrs Theresa May. Of course, as one of our largest trading partners with ties stretching back 144 years, we have cause to be interested in what happens in that country. For the wistful, we can even learn something about gendered politics in Britain, even as our own MP for Assin North is undergoing justified condemnation for his antediluvian views on the chairperson of our Electoral Commission. 

But the sudden emergence of Mrs May at the top of British politics only confirms the popular saying that a week is indeed a long time in politics. Our immediate concerns over the Brexit, our agreement to the EPA, and related commercial matters, now all seem to be filling the electoral plates of our own politicians. 

Platforms of political parties

We are barely three months to general election in this country, and none of the political parties, both major and minor, has deemed it fit to give us any inkling of their intentions in government if elected as they move feverishly seeking to wrest power at the upcoming November polls. This serious lapse of political judgement and purpose, has been defended in various ways on numerous fora in the past year, justifying this omission as if anything excuses this.

To be fair, the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) of President John Mahama need not do much beyond pointing out the pathways to completing the unfinished agenda spelled out in 2012, and which, it can be  persuasively argued, is what our current government rightly claims to be doing. The NDC need not bother itself with spelling out in elaborate detail, what exactly it plans to do for Ghanaians for the simple and straightforward reason that it is in the process of carrying out the manifesto promises captured in their previous manifesto of 2012.

The many and striking infrastructural projects going on apace in all corners of the country, are ample testament of the reality of these promises. The problem which I want to discuss today is the glaring fact of the lack of manifestos from the other political parties that are seeking our mandate to run this country from January 7, 2017. But why should we the people give such parties the mandate and on what basis?

On the contrary, absolutely nothing excuses the lack of, or studied avoidance of, manifestoes for the other parties as we get close to the elections. The most pathetic excuse proffered by the largest opposition party, the NPP, is the fear that its policies spelt out in a manifesto, may be copied by the ruling NDC! You cannot prepare for an examination, study hard and purposefully for it, then decline to take it for fear of having your excellent work copied by others! This is because we will all know at once who copied who in such a scenario and put this fear to rest without much trouble. Unless of course, one has not studied at all for any examination!

This pathetic excuse may be a ruse to cover up something more interesting and revealing about the two major parties; that they are meeting ideologically in the middle as far as the problems and solutions facing our country are concerned, and the NPP is wary and panicking that it may lose its distinctive flavor thereby, thus the refusal to tell us what it can do for Ghanaians politically. If this is the underlying motive, then it is clearly a cowardly way out of fulfilling an imperative in an election year, giving the electorate a reasoned set of policies to enable them to decide for your party. The earlier this is remedied, the better for both party and nation. 


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