Government has been urged to take steps to amend Ghana’s Local Government Act 1993, Act 462 (7) to prevent partisanship during elections of assembly members to the metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs).
A lecturer at the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ),Dr Paul Herzuah, who made the call said although the law barred people from contesting on partisan basis, the reality was that there is subtle political contest as candidates use party colours for their campaign posters.
The Local Government Act 1993, Act 462 (7) (1) states that: “A candidate seeking election to a district assembly or to any lower local government unit shall present himself to the electorate as an individual, and shall not use any symbol associated with a political party.”
Dr Herzuah, said given that people were using colours and symbols identifiable to political parties, particularly the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), it was important the law was amended in order to remove grey areas around the law.
Presenting the findings of a study titled “Enacting identity in local elections in Accra: A multimodal critical discourse analysis,” Dr Herzuah said the study found that a greater number of people who put themselves up for the 2015 District Assembly elections in some selected areas of Accra, linked their campaign to the partisan cues of the two political parties.
The presentation was organised by the Directorate of Research, Innovation and Development (DRD), the research department of GIJ.
Among the audience were lecturers from the Journalism and Media Studies Faculty of GIJ, journalists, as well as the President of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), Albert Kwabena Dwumfour.
The study was conducted within Ga East (Agbogba, Abokobi, Taifa), Ayawaso West, as well as the Accra Metropolitan Assembly.
According to the collected data, 30 of the posters were designed in NPP colours; 28 in NDC, 20 had the Ghana flag, tagged as “National”, while 32 posters did not follow any colour pattern, hence were categorised as “Undefined.”
Dr Herzuah indicated that from the research findings, it was obvious that people were using the party colours associated with the NPP and NDC in the design of their posters to appeal to the conscience of the electorate; a situation which clearly contradicts the letter and spirit of Section (7) (1) of the Act.
“The Local Government Act 1993, Act 462 (7) 1 to 4, should be amended to eliminate grey areas in future MMDA elections because, like we saw, the law says that we shouldn’t use any symbols, but they beat the system by design.”
“They didn’t use any symbols, but I mean, they used the colours in a way that you cannot fault them because it’s design work.”
“It is, therefore, important the law is amended in order to remove grey areas to prevent these things from happening,” he said.
He suggested that in future MMDA elections, “all posters must come in black and white”.