Surest (only) way to stop election violence - Enimil Ashong writes
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Surest (only) way to stop election violence - Enimil Ashong writes

Peace FM’s Kwame Sefa Kayi was flabbergasted. His statement, on ‘Kokrokoo’ last Tuesday, was both a question and an alarm: “This level of violence, just because we are writing our names!?” It was in reference to this year’s limited voter registration. 

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To his mind (though he did not give it voice), the conclusion was that the Ghanaian psyche must really have sunk to sub-normal levels for this to be a reality; after all, no-one’s name in the voters register bears a party identification.

But if you heard New Patriotic Party’s (NPP’s) Sammy Awuku speaking to teenagers in a particular constituency, then there is something in the soup! He was warning the under-18s against being bussed and incentivised by politicians to go write their names.

Has it come to this: that under 18-year-olds in Ghana have learned the art of vote selling! The tadpole will metamorphose into a frog one day. In Ghana, parents are too busy with stomach matters, and the politicians are too preoccupied with International Monetary Fund (IMF) to be bothered by how children and the youth are being brought up.

The boundary between morality and evil is so blurred now nobody seems to care what anybody of whichever age is watching on TV, particularly those music videos. Content Classification has become a mere paper-tiger.

The media managers know that the more pornographic the content, the more the eyeballs, and the more the advertising revenue. The fare is being consumed on the children’s phones, anyway.  

So, corruption has made its masterpiece. In the process, the end justifies the means by which people become politicians; hence, the violence. Youths have been hired to commit the most unimaginable crimes in the name of politics – just to get somebody into power.

Quality

The aim of my lamentation today is the quality of politicians we are producing. Certainly, there are a few exceptionally hard-working MPs and ministers, but on the whole, it is becoming increasingly difficult to tell the usefulness of voting people into Parliament and to Jubilee House.

To the masses, the lifestyle jump from the “osimesi” in the community to “Honourable” is way too dizzying. The “osimesi” in the community has suddenly arrived, morphed into a celebrity.

If that is what politics does to a person, then all his classmates will be politicians, and they will die trying! The Winner-Takes-All has made it possible for Presidents to have a kitchen Cabinet made up of people nobody has elected who teleguide the awarding of contracts and loans.

This can only happen in a country where one person, the President, backed by the winning political party, can change your economic and social standing overnight. By the Winner-Takes-All route, guaranteed by the 1992 Constitution, all Ambassadors, all CEOs of all state-owned enterprises, all board members, etc., are appointed by one person - the President.

The system has proved so disruptive of the Public and Civil Service structures that the Civil and Local Government Staff Association is threatening to head to the Supreme Court to seek redress on the issue. 

Change

Whom can we count on to spearhead the campaign for a change? Certainly not the present political actors: they won’t touch a system of which they are the chief lucky beneficiaries.

Once a while, there will be a  Osei Kyei- Mensah-Bonsu, a Sam Nartey-George and an Okudzeto Ablakwa. Once a while, a President Kufuor will come along with NHIS, Capitation Grant and School-feeding programme; an Akufo-Addo with Free SHS. But outside of these rare policy initiatives, how has all the noise and political violence benefitted us? 

Leadership

Political leadership has not translated into policies that breed scientists, so we manufacture nothing and import everything, even onions and plantains. Our hotels are importing beef.

The exchange rate is in a free-fall. From Kufuor’s GH¢1.50 to US$1, the cedi jumped to GH¢6 under Mahama and is now GH¢14!!! Ghana imports 50,000 metric tonnes of palm oil annually. We spend between US$600 and US$800 to import a tonne of the same palm oil which Ghana taught Malaysia how to produce during our First Republic.

Today 60-plus years later, Malaysia owes its transformation to oil palm so much that the produce is now called “Red gold!” Today, 5.9 million hectares of land in Malaysia is under oil palm cultivation, providing employment to more than half a million people. Our hotels import hundreds of thousand dollars’ worth of chicken.

So, what’s all the electoral violence in Ghana about?

What our politicians have succeeded to do is to widen the rich-poor gap. MPs – perhaps everywhere – are like gods. As Professors Harvey and Barther wrote in their seminal ‘British Constitution’ (1968), “they (MPs) can do everything, except change a man into a woman”.

The masses of Ghana are expecting that this awesome power would be used to reduce their poverty levels.

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The writer is Executive Director,
Centre for Communication and Culture.
E-mail: [email protected]

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