Monday, March 30, 2009

GACC calls for transparency and accountability in transition process

The Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC) on Sunday said events that unfolded just before, during and after Ghana's recent transition requires that the country strengthens its fight against corruption to improve good governance delivery.

The coalition which is made up of various public, private institutions and civil society groups working to reduce corruption, said the country needs to ensure that every government adheres to strict rules and procedures that promote transparency and ensure a smooth transition process.

A communiqué signed by Mrs. Florence Dennis, Executive Secretary of GACC at the end of a two-day meeting of the Coalition, said successive governments had failed to carry out the measures in a transparent and timely manner and as a result, embroiled the changeover process in needless controversy.

It said the current situation has created a public perception of bad faith and corruption on the part of the past government and one of vindictiveness and vendetta on the incumbent.

The GACC expressed misgivings about the timing and circumstances surrounding the approval of the ex-gratia awards and other packages for the President, Members of Parliament and other office holders, which obviously did not ensure the necessary parliamentary scrutiny and transparency.

The Coalition called for the creation of the Office of the Administrator–General which would take inventory of all state assets, irrespective of which government was in power.

"It is evident that the lack of a clear-cut procedure for handing over by public officers, including the vacation of their official residences, has clearly resulted in unauthorized removal of state property.

"In addition, the coalition noted with concern, the drastic reduction of budgetary allocations to key accountability institutions, including Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) in spite of the government's avowed commitment to strengthen these institutions to fight corruption," It added.

The GACC called on the government to ensure the independence and efficiency of these anti-corruption institutions.

The meeting re-elected Reverend Dr Fred Deegbe as Chairman, Miss Anna Bossman as Vice–Chairperson and Dr Osei Boeh–Ocansey, Honorary Treasurer, for a four-year term.

GACC is made up of Ghana Conference for Religions for Peace, Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice, Serious Fraud Office, Ghana Integrity Initiative, Private Enterprise Foundation, Ghana Centre for Democratic Development, Institute of Economic Affairs, National Governance Secretariat and Ghana Journalists Association.

Source: GNA

Friday, March 27, 2009

Ghana Elections Disputes : Akwatia Electoral Dispute Adjourned?

An Appeal Court in Accra has adjourned indefinitely the Akwatia parliamentary electoral dispute case before it, raising concerns among the disputants according to Daily Guide.

When the case was called on Monday, the Electoral Commission (EC) which took the case to the court was nowhere to be found, apparently because the EC was not informed about the date, leading to the adjournment.

The EC had filed the appeal against a Koforidua High Court ruling on the electoral dispute occasioned by snatching of ballot boxes during the December7, 2008 parliamentary polls which the New Patriotic Party (NPP) was cruising home to victory.

The Koforidua High Court had dismissed an application by the EC and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) parliamentary for Akwatia, Dr Kofi Asare.

The application was to nullify a writ filed by the parliamentary candidate of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Babal Jamal and two independent candidates who are seeking a re-run of the parliamentary elections in the constituency.

The High Court presided over by Justice Surrebarreh threw out an application by the EC and the NPP candidate in its ruling, and awarded a GH¢500 cost against the NPP man.

The NDC candidate, Baba Jamal and two independent candidates, Basil Ahiable and Samuel Abrokwah, jointly filed a writ praying the court to order the EC to conduct fresh parliamentary elections since they believe there were serious electoral irregularities and fraud at most of the polling stations.

However, the EC wanted to conduct elections in only six of the polling stations located at Akwatia where the ballot boxes were snatched by some 'macho men' believed to be supporters of the NDC candidate.

In the course of the trial, Dr. Kofi Asare came in as a second defendant and filed a petition asking the court to dismiss the writ filed by the plaintiffs, citing that the case should have come on a petition.

The judge however dismissed the application and ordered that the writ should go through its normal course.

Giving reasons for his ruling, Justice Surrebarreh said since nobody had been elected at Akwatia to be gazzetted and presented to Parliament, the event could not be an election whose grievances should be addressed through a petition.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

EC Ghana aims for transparency and credibility of the electoral process

The Electoral Commission (EC) intends to carry out some electoral reforms as part of measures to enhance the transparency and credibility of the electoral process. Mr Alban Bagbin, Chairman of the Special Budget Committee of Parliament, in a report read on the floor of the House, said these reforms were expected to begin this year and it was to be financed from the service expenditure of the EC's budget.

"It was however, observed that the Commission's service budget has been significantly reduced. The 2009 approved figure is 294,763 Ghana cedis whereas the 2008 figure was 418,104, Ghana cedis, a difference of 123,341 cedis or 30 percent," Mr Bagbin, who is also the Majority Leader said.

He was seconding a motion for the approval 7,091,990 Ghana cedis for the services of the EC for the 2009 fiscal year. He said there was allocation for the conduct of only one bye-election in the EC's budget for the year. "It is the view of the Committee and the EC that past experiences make it imperative that there should be provision for more than one bye-election considering the fact that we already have one bye-election even though the year is only three months old, and therefore urges the Ministry of Finance to make contingency arrangements to provide the EC with funds for bye-elections whenever the need arises," Mr Bagbin added. The Majority Leader also seconded a motion for a sum of 5,044,605 Ghana cedis for the services of the National Commission of Civic Education for this year and said the Commission would this year, deepen the social audit programme of the Commission to educate the public on its rights and powers to hold both elected and non elected public office holders accountable, particularly at the district level. Earlier, Finance Minister, Dr Kwabena Duffuor, moved a motion for the approval of a sum of 146, 681,167 Ghana cedis for the services of the Finance Ministry.

He said the ministry would, for this year, improve upon revenue collection and tax administration to support the economy. The House also approved an estimate of 4,206,832 Ghana cedis for the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice for the year.

Media reportage vital during elections- CDD

The Centre for Democratic Development (CDD) and the French Embassy on Wednesday described media reportage as vital and indispensable in several efforts in securing a lasting and durable democracy in the country.

The media played a significant role in past elections and every commentator expressed some appreciation for the work the media did.

One thing media did so well collectively was to ensure that every Ghanaian knew there was a general elections coming on, to the extent that there was elections fatigue and people actually got fed up with election news.

The media also did well during the elections itself, sending reporters to practically every nook and cranny. Radio Stations and the TV Channels were clearly in competitions to see who could cast the net wider. And in cases where results delayed, reporters and presenters evidently made personal sacrifice to wait and keep the public informed.

Although Journalists played a significant role in the run-off Elections, some journalists and media houses did not live up to expectations. News items that could have plunged the country into conflict were transmitted.

Journalist must avoid partiality, misuse of power, defamatory languages in their reportage, she added.

Jeannette Quarcoopome of the Media Foundation for West Africa also made a presentation and said well trained journalists should be sent to the field to ensure professionalism.

Source: GNA

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Government to gazette assets declared by public officer holders

Government on Monday took a giant step in its effort to tackle sleaze in the public service with the gazetting of assets declared by political appointees and public office holders. 
     Currently, assets declared by public office holders are lodged with the Auditor General in a sealed envelop.
     Vice President John Dramani Mahama, who announced this at the Castle, Osu on Monday, said the current assets declaration was "quite meaningless" in dealing with the menace of corruption, which had been identified as a major factor responsible for Ghana's state of underdevelopment.
      He was interacting with a joint delegation of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana (PCG) and management of South African construction conglomerate, Power Group.
      Vice President Mahama pointed out that government would not relent in safeguarding the public purse from being dissipated by greedy state officials. 
      He said the decision to gazette or make public assets declared by public office holders was part of efforts being initiated by President John Evans Atta Mills to ensure the "highest degree of responsibility and accountability" in public service.
      Vice President Mahama said the newly minted code of ethics, which would soon take effect, would bring sanity into state financial controls and ensure that national resources were expended on the marginalised.
      He noted that government would focus on instilling in the public sector a high sense of moral integrity in line with President Mills' transparent and ethical leadership.
      Vice President Mahama said public officials who transgressed the new code would be punished, as the core principle of the code was to ensure that timely actions were taken in punishing erring officials.
      He reiterated the commitment of President Mills to demonstrate through actions, his loathing for sleaze in both the public and private sectors by ensuring that those who fell foul of the law were dealt with swiftly but firmly.
      Vice President Mahama commended Right-Reverend Dr Yaw Frimpong-Manso, Moderator of the General Assembly of PCG for being at the forefront in developing a culture of industriousness and clean living in Ghana.
      He said the visit of Mr Graham Power, Chairman of Power Group of Companies and his lead role in tackling corrupt practices in the corporate world would serve as an inspiration to efforts geared towards rooting out the bad practice in Ghana.
      Vice President Mahama said the canker of corruption had helped unfortunately to divert public money into private hands, but was hopeful that through the collaborative efforts of organisations such as the PCG, government would come at grips with the problem. 
      Rt-Rev. Frimpong-Manso reiterated the commitment of PCG to work towards a "holistic ministry" in Ghana that required its congregants to pursue business goals with integrity.
      He said introduction of Mr Power in Ghana was due to his sterling leadership in insulating businesses from sordid deals which tended to exacerbate poverty on the continent.
      Mr Power, an advocate of the Global Day of Prayer, a platform that blends entrepreneurial practices with Christian teachings, challenged his colleague businessmen to help turn a page of the "horrible statistics' of corruption in corporate boardrooms in Africa.
      He posited that the biggest problem confronting Africa was the problem of corruption, alluding that efforts to tackle poverty would only become successful when the problem of corruption was firmly tackled.
      Other members of the delegation included Rev. Herbert Anim Opong, Clerk of General Assembly of PCG and Rev. Professor Emmanuel Martey, Chairperson of Ga Presbytery of PCG.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Government to deepen democracy at local level

Mr Joseph Yieleh Chireh, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development on Wednesday said government was committed to deepening democracy at the local level.   
     He said local government institutions would be strengthened to mobilize and generate revenue to improve the welfare of Ghanaians.
     The minister said this when the US Ambassador to Ghana, Mr Donald Teitelbaum called on him in Accra to discuss bilateral relations between the two countries.
     He said local government officials ought to interact with their people to enable them understand and appreciate the policies of government so as to encourage diverse contributions.
     Mr Chireh said government would implement reforms to accelerate the work of the local institutions to deepen the decentralization process and accountability.
     He called on the US government to support Ghana in her efforts to improve the decentralization process.
     Mr Teitelbaum commended the Ghana government for the reforms in the decentralization process and pledged the US support to further improve the system.

Afari-Gyan: Biometric registration for 2012 elections

The Chairman of the Electoral Commission, Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan has hinted that a completely new voter registration exercise would be undertaken to derive a new register for the 2012 general elections according to Joy FM.

The exercise will employ the best of technologies, including the use of biometric registration to beat fraudsters who attempt to exploit the voting exercise to their advantage.

Afari-Gyan maintained that a lot of allegations during elections are unfounded, and those who make such claims more often than not fail to provide evidence to support those claims, maintaining 'that the name of the game is evidence."Agreeing that Ghana is lagging behind in the use of technologies in the electoral process, he said any new improvements in the system will have to include the best technologies, including biometric systems that will beat the fraudsters,.

He expressed the hope that the population census for the country would be conducted for 2010 to form the basis for the new registration exercise.Arguably Ghana's most celebrated elections referee, Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan admitted he prefers to watch cartoons while political parties and their followers boil up their temperatures in their own schemes.

He assured that he will be around for Ghana's next general elections in 2012, 'God willing', explaining that he had not yet reached the retiring age and subject to his resignation, he should be around to supervise yet another election, one he expects would build on the successes of the past and see shortfalls corrected for a better poll.

Afari-Gyan has supervised five successful national polls in the country since 1992, and said most of the allegations that seek to subtract from the credible elections have lacked substance and mainly come from losers who instead of analyzing the what went wrong, look for people to blame.

"Let us remember that in the realm of elections, the name of the game is evidence, you can allege all kinds of things if you don't have evidence you are just playing around. Yes I would admit that various allegations have been made and when you ask for the evidence… and everything that we do at the Electoral Commission is subject to judicial review so if you have the evidence, even after the election results have been released, you could go to court and get justice and the reason why this has not been done is that in many cases they themselves realize that they do not have the evidence."

Dr. Afari-Gyan said while Ghanaian politicians have not done too badly in the area of political behaviour and playing by the rules, there is still a lot of improper behaviour, likening the situation to the resort to Judo tactics in the game of football.

He said sanctioning and prosecution of infractions lie mainly with the law enforcement agencies and the law courts, while the EC is reduced to only reporting such infractions to the authorities.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

NPP for early congress

Unassailable information reaching The Statesman indicates that there are moves on the part of the New Patriotic Party leadership as well as some members for an early National Congress, possibly early December 2009. March 2010 is the latest the advocates of an early congress will settle for, The Statesman understands.

The move, which was reported to have been engineered by a section of the leadership who believe in unity as a key ingredient in preparing the party sufficiently for its 2012 successful bid, has among its advocates high-ranking NPP personalities, including Jake Obetsebi Lamptey, a leading member of the NPP Campaign Team since 1996, and former Chief of Staff Kwadwo Mpiani.

The Congress is expected not only to elect a National Executive, but also the Flagbearer of the NPP.

The idea, according to sources within the Party, has gone down well with every interested faction in the NPP, with the two-in-one Congress idea intended, according to advocates of the move for early Congress, to save costs and resources for an earlier and more effective national campaign in the effort to convincingly unseat the National Democratic Congress at the next elections.

The Constitution allows an early Congress, two years ahead of elections, when the party is in opposition and 11 months, when in power. An early Congress in this case is ideal, since the emerging Flagbearer would have a longer period to campaign and also afford the Campaign Team enough time to market the elected Presidential candidate.

Another reason for the call for the early Congress, according to an insider, "is for the Party to have ample time to patch up possible cracks which would have bedeviled the party during the Congress and Flagbearer Campaign, which is expected to be fiercely contested".

"Once the Party has a flagbearer, it gives the entire membership a sense of direction and hope," our source concluded.

Initial calls on the part of a section of the membership for a review of the Constitution to expand the electoral college according to our sources, seem not to be getting the nod, with ex-President John Agyekum Kufuor reportedly leading the crusade to maintain the current tradition. However, there are favourable indications that those campaigning for the expansion may have the last laugh for more paid-up members to determine the future and course of the party through that mandate given in the reviewed NPP Constitution.

So far, according our reliable sources, this deal of an early Congress has found acceptability with all interest groups in the party.

In spite of the surprise loss of power on the part of the NPP to the NDC led by Professor Evans Atta Mills, the leadership of the party believes the NPP still enjoys tons of goodwill unheard of in the history of opposition politics in Ghana - which puts the NPP on a pedestal of hope in terms of a formidable come back in 2012.

The theme of the December Congress, The Statesman was told, would reflect that fact and thinking in gingering rank and file members of the party and in uniting them towards the objective of an envisaged return 'to power in 2012.

Source: The Statesman

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Almost 50 days gone, how much has Mills achieved?

The president, Prof. J.E.A. Mills will hit half of the 100 days within which he promised significant changes in many spheres of national life, on Thursday.

He promised to clear the filth in the capital, fight armed robbery, reduce fuel prices, give 40 per cent appointments in his government to women, and run a lean government. He also promised to initiate processes that would see the passage of the Freedom to Information Bill into law.

As the clock ticks, those who remember the promises and have the time are counting the days and asking whether the work done by the government so far gives an indication that the president can fulfill his 100 days promises.

While it is completely outrageous to use 100 days to judge a four-year term for the government, the president is being held to his own promises.

The president has appointed some women into office, reduced fuel prices albeit insignificantly, and reduced the number of ministers from 88 to 75.

But some argue these are tepid and cosmetic as they are a far cry from what was promised.

Panelists on Joy FM's Super Morning Show examined the president's 100 days promises and work done so far to fulfill them.

Journalist and lawyer Egbert Faibille Jnr. believes the president has hit the ground crawling contrary to his assertion that he would hit the ground running.

He says the president's pledge was "just political talk."

A more optimistic David Ampofo of the Convention People's Party, says since the country is not immune from the global economic crisis, the government should be allowed space to work.

He nonetheless is not enthused by the delays in reconstituting boards of government agencies and institutions.

The situation, he regrets, has led to a lull and a virtual paralysis in such institutions which is at a great cost to the nation.

Deputy Information Minister designate, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, on the contrary believes the government is fulfilling all its promises in record time.

He thinks government's actions have not been properly publicized, blaming the media for rather concentrating on mundane issues.

Mr. Okudzeto catalogued a number of things the government is doing to cut down on extravagant expenditures citing cocktails that used to be orgainsed after the delivery of State of the Nation Addresses and Independence celebrations.

Pollster and election monitor, Mr. Ben Ephson stresses that the 100 days tradition is only a psychological game.

He says voters will use the overall performance of the government in the four-year term to judge it by juxtaposing their present living conditions with the period before the government in question came to power.

The issues to consider, according to him, will be the availability of jobs, security and salary levels.

As the debate rages on, some are continuing to count the hours or even minutes and ticking their checklists of unfulfilled promises of the government.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Election offenses should be prosecuted

Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, Chairman of the Electoral Commission (EC) on Tuesday said those who flout the country's electoral laws should be prosecuted in order to end "political impunity" during elections.
     Speaking at the special Regional Inter-party Advisory Committee (RIPAC) meeting in Ho under the Commission's "safeguarding the integrity of the ballot" project, he said it was the duty of the police to bring such offenders to book.
 The meeting was organized in collaboration with the Canadian International Development Agency and the KAB Governance Consult.
 Dr Afari-Gyan made the call in response to a catalogue of concerns raised mainly by representatives of the National Democratic Congress and New Patriotic Party (NPP) representatives regarding abuses during the last elections in the region.
 Asked by the Ghana News Agency whether it was not the responsibility of the Commission to initiate such prosecutions, Dr Afari-Gyan said that was the duty of the police to whom the Commission has made several complaints.
 He said both the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) were guilty of polluting the election atmosphere in the country.
 Dr Afari-Gyan said abuses of the country's Electoral laws seemed to arise from the leeway the Commission had given to the political parties.
 "We have been too transparent with the parties, sometimes we have to step back," he said.
      Dr Afari-Gyan said if only the political parties would adhere to the country's electoral arrangements every election report would be verifiable.
      He said both the NDC and the NPP when in power turned the police into political and government police during elections, and did not allow them to act professionally.
      That he said created problems for the Police establishment and its personnel when the reins of government changed.
      "We are not treating them fairly," he said.
      Dr Afari-Gyan told the political parties that the calibre of people they appointed as party agents were essential to safeguarding their interests during elections.
      Ms Laurentia Kpatakpa, Volta Regional Director of the EC said the integrity of Ghana's Electoral process rested in the checks and balances within the system which when operated properly would produce outcomes that are acceptable, verifiable and could be audited at every stage.
     She said the 2008 elections should be a learning experience for the country, using best practices accepted globally to improve on subsequent elections in the country.
     "We wish to re-iterate that when we make regulations and laws we have a duty to uphold them. Non-compliance could result in chaos.
     "If party executives fail to submit lists and information on agents appointed by them for accreditation, we do not see how the returning officer could certify the agent's application authorizing him to work at a Polling Station or Collation Centre," Ms Kpatakpa said.
     The meeting called on the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), the Information Services Department (ISD) and the EC to collaborate and that adequate resources should be made available to them to carry out education on elections.
     It was also suggested that Chiefs should be included in stakeholder forums on elections such as the RIPAC meeting because of the influence they wielded over the conduct of their people in the last elections.
      The meeting agreed that people could capture events at the polling stations on their mobile camera phones as proof of allegations that might be raised.
  It was explained that there was no law that limited political parties to choosing their agents from localities in which they would be guarding the elections, but it was important that such agents were conversant with the people and localities where they would be representing their parties' interests.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

President appoints Council of State members

The President His Excellency, John Atta Mills has appointed eleven persons as members of Council of State. 

The action is consistent with Article 89(2) (d) of the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana. 

This was put across in a statement signed by the President's Spokesperson, Hon Mahama Ayariga. 

The members of the Council of State are as follows


1. Mrs. Victoria Addy

2. Mrs. Cecilia Johnson

3. Prof. Akilakpa Sawyerr

4. Prof. Kofi Awoonor

5. Daasebre Kwebu Ewusi VII

6. Alhaji Asoma Banda

7. Hajara Musa Ali

8. Alhaji Mahama Iddrisu

9. Nana Akuako Sarpong

10. Otumfuo Badu Bonsu XV

11. Rev. Nii Amo Darko


Meanwhile the President, His Excellency John Evans Atta Mills has withdrawn the nomination of Dr. Nartey Siaw-Sappore.

Dr. Siaw-Sappore was slated for the Ministry of Communications as deputy to Hon. Haruna Iddrisu, the substantive sector minister. Details of the president's action remain sketchy.

This brings to two the number of nominations the President has withdrawn, the first being Hon. Moses Asaga, then the President's choice for the Works and Housing Ministry.

Citi News Parliamentary Correspondent, Richard Sky reports that the statement from the castle was read on the floor of parliament.





Tuesday, March 3, 2009

CPP exists as mere vehicle for election

A leading member of the Convention Peoples Party (CPP) and a lecturer at the University of Ghana, Dr Kojo Opoku Aidoo, has said the party currently exists as a mere vehicle for election.

"When it is time for elections, we elect a presidential and assemble parliamentary candidates to contest elections. We are humiliated and then sit down and wait for the next election only to be humiliated again," he stated.

"In the Limann regime, we saw how our party members in leadership positions thwarted party unity which led to the fall of Limann in 1981, again in 2004 we saw also how certain persons in leadership positions decided to vote 'skirt and blouse' by which they campaigned and voted against the CPP's presidential and parliamentary candidates."

Addressing some party supporters at the 33rd Remembrance Day celebration of the overthrow of the first President of Ghana, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, in a coup on February 24, 1966 last week, he said "in the just ended election, we saw the same attitude where some individuals within the party campaigned against CPP's presidential and parliamentary candidates, which resulted in the poor performance of the party in the presidential and parliamentary elections."

He said concerted efforts were needed to rebuild the CPP into a vibrant mass political movement.

He said Dr Nkrumah placed a great deal of emphasis on human development to enhance the capacity of the people to develop themselves.

"Illiteracy eradication, higher education, healthcare enhancement, skill development, management training, among other things, were Nkrumah's democratic development strategy," he added.

Dr Opeku Aidoo said for Osagyefo, development was about the process by which people created and recreated themselves to attain higher levels of civilisation in accordance with their own choices and values.

The chairman for the occasion, Dr Nii Noi Dowouna, said the election of Samia Nkrumah as the only Member of Parliament was a victory for the CPP as this was the first time the CPP had contested an election without any alliance with any political party and won.

Source: Daily Graphic

Monday, March 2, 2009

NDC in manifesto scam?

The National Democratic Congress (NDC) is alleged to be have surreptitiously withdrawn the manifesto signed by the then candidate John Evans Atta Mills, with which the party ran its 2008 political campaign for last year's elections, replacing it with a new one they refer to as 'The New King James Version.'

Just a few weeks into the ceremonious first 100 days of the government, the ruling NDC has substituted the endorsed manifesto and put in circulation a brand new one with different content and devoid of the signature of President Mills.

As it appears now, the belief of Ghanaians that they voted for the NDC based on a manifesto that would serve their interests has apparently been short-changed with the withdrawal of the original one.

The matter of the two contrasting manifestos became a subject of acrimonious debate on the floor of Parliament last Friday when the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament (MP) for Bimbilla, Dominic B. A. Nitiwul, in an attempt to quote from portions of the NDC manifesto, quickly sent almost all the ruling party MPs to their feet.

The NDC MPs argued in unison that Hon. Nitiwul, was not quoting from their manifesto and that the document he was referring to, which had the signature of President Mills had been withdrawn by the ruling party because of certain errors in it.

However, Hon. Nitiwul, a teacher by profession, who was contributing to the debate on President Mills' State of the Nation address on education, insisted that he was actually quoting from the NDC manifesto which had been endorsed by its leader to indicate what the ruling party promised to do for the education sector.

After a heated debate and protestations on the issue between the Minority and Majority sides, the NDC MP for Avenor Ave and First Deputy Speaker who was in the Chair for the day, ruled that Hon. Nitiwul, should use the new version of the NDC manifesto as the old one had indeed been withdrawn, re-affirming the submissions of his colleagues on the Majority side.

Obliging with the Speaker's ruling, Hon. Nitiwul then started to quote figures from the new manifesto, which the Minority described as the 'King James Version'.

Surprisingly however, the first objection by the majority was just a sequel to another denial, as the NDC MP for Ningo/Prampram and Majority Chief Whip; E. T. Mensah, rose up on his feet to challenge Hon. Nitiwul that he was still not referring to the revised NDC manifesto.

Nonetheless, having been challenged to refer to page 78 of the manifesto and after realizing that the young and eloquent Bimbilla MP had not manufactured any figures but just simply quoting those from the 'King James Version', Hon. E. T. Mensah concluded that the figures were typographical errors and not what the NDC intended to put in the manifesto.

In the said document, the NDC had promised to build 20,000-seat capacity stadium for each regional capital as well as 7,000-seat capacity for each district capacity, which the party said it was a typo error.  

This conclusion left many tongues wagging on the floor of Parliament, especially from the minority side as to what commitment the ruling NDC is making to the Ghanaian electorate.

Nitiwul in a sarcastic way told the house that it was very difficult to quote from the NDC manifesto because of the inherent shortcomings.



Source: Daily Guide

Media severely criticised over bad reportage

The media's coverage of the recent general election has been severely criticised.

The criticisms which were levelled at a round-table discussion on the elections at Koforidua last week, accused journalists, most of whom were said to be unqualified and media houses of being bias, partisan and influenced by politicians.

The event which was organised by the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (COD-Ghana) on the theme "Towards a freer, fairer and a more credible elections 2012" was to examine all aspects of the 2008 elections with the aim of making recommendations that would do away with or reduce negative traits at the 2012 elections.

It brought together experts made up of seasoned media and legal practitioners, lecturers from the universities, top officials from various organisations such as COD-Ghana, CODEO, the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), the Ghana Bar Association(GBA), the National Media Commission and representatives of the European Union Election Observation Mission.

The group which pointed out Radio Gold and Oman FM for broadcasting news items that could have led to chaos called on the government to hasten the passage of a broadcasting law to regulate the activities of radio stations.

A lecturer of the School of Communication Studies, University of Ghana, Dr Audrey Gadzekpo, who set the ball rolling, stated that the media, before and during the elections did not perform well and that news items were based on rumours to incite the public.

She said apart from that, the reports which were partisan in nature featured prominently on the two main political parties, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) while the smaller parties had little coverage.

According to Dr Gadzekpo, such negative traits which nearly plunged the country into chaos must be avoided at the 2012 elections to sustain the country's fledgling democracy which had made Ghana the beacon of hope in Africa.

"Some of the media houses, especially the FM stations such as Oman FM and Radio Gold, due to some circumstances came up with news items that heightened tension and nearly plunged the country into chaos and these must be avoided in 2012", Dr Gadzekpo stated.

Dr Gadzekpo, however, said the media highlighted certain aspects of the elections that made the event successful and called on media houses, especially the private radio stations to recruit qualified and competent staff to be able to perform creditably.

She expressed the hope that the participants would come out with recommendations that would stand the test of time.

Mr Kofi Asante of the CDD said if was not media houses alone whose performance negatively affected the elections and that district chief executives and other public officials should also be blamed because they erected billboards for candidates of the ruling government.

He also wondered why there should be strongholds for certain political parties where others could not freely operate.

The acting Commissioner of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Miss Anna Bossman, said a study conducted by her outfit in some constituencies during the elections brought to light abuse by the ruling government.

She was also not happy that ballot papers had to be collated or counted more than twice in some constituencies, which according to her, were recipes for chaos.

For his part, the Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Dispatch, Mr Ben Ephson, called on owners of private media houses to engage qualified staff and suggested that the editors of such media outfits must be held responsible for any lapses.

The Executive Secretary of the NMC, Mr George Sarpong said although political parties cheated in the elections, they condemned others.

The General Secretary of the GJA, Mr Bright Blewu, who was of the view that the NMC should be well resourced to be able to do its work, said something must be done to prevent chaos during the 2012 elections.

The EU representative, Mr Nicholay Miadenov, said although the recent elections met international standard, there were some shortcomings and suggested a review of the voters' register and that district chief executives must not campaign for the candidates of the ruling government.

Other contributors were Mr John Larbi of the CDD; Mr Afriyie Badu of Cab Governance Consult; Mr Kofi Owusu of Joy FM; Mr Kwasi Ennin, a conflict resolution expert; Mr Justice V.C.R.A.C . Crabbe, a constitutional expert, Maulvi Wahab Adam, Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Mission in Ghana, and Professor K.A. Ninsin of the University of Ghana, Legon.

Source: Daily Graphic