24.10.2004 Feature Article

Ghana’s 2004 Election: A Plebiscite on Advancement or Retrogress Paradigm

Ghana’s 2004 Election: A Plebiscite on Advancement or Retrogress Paradigm
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The uncomplicated reason given by any military government that assumed power in Ghana was that the predecessor was not managing the economy well. The successive coups in Ghana led to multifarious economic and political ideology that had defined and shaped Ghana. Consequently, it can be argued that the nation lacks an efficient functioning system, however, things a improving.

The host of challenges that characterizes the nation today more or less emanates from the lack of continuation with solid streamline policies, and overhaul of existing policies; which may help explain why the IMF and the World Bank continue to dictate programs for the nation. Suffice to say in Ghana, a change in government means an embargo on, or abolishing of policies being undertaken by the previous government, a scenario, which retards progress.

Ghana's 2004 election is very critical, which the population must evaluate carefully. In recent months, various reports and studies have come out either to influence voters or educate them; the motives behind the releases are complex depending on who comments on them. One issue that is dominating the political showground is corruption. Clearly, the crux of NDC's campaign is corruption. A corruption survey conducted by the Center for Democracy and Development (CDD-Ghana) between May- June 2000, which was commissioned by the World Bank, suggests that most people including public officials and household agreed on the high prevalence of corruption, and perceived it as a serious problem. It is not astounding that the former vice president is critically campaigning on this issue in that it is ubiquitous and is one that voters can identify with swiftly. While the increase in corruption started on the watch of NDC, what was done to combat it, was and is still not clear. According to Transparency International survey in 2003, Ghana scored 3.3 according to their index, and was 70th most corrupt country given the number of countries surveyed, however in 2004, Ghana has improved to 64th with a score of 3.6. The inference is that while the improvement is modest, it strengthens the government's fight against corruption. Government's efforts to incessantly curtail corruption will gradually win the trust of the people of Ghana and the outside world. Unambiguously, more needs to be done in terms of government accountability to citizens, increase participation of citizens in the struggle against corruption, and education vis-à-vis their civic rights.

On the premise of streamline policies, it is interesting to note that the IMF progress report released in March 2004 about Ghana on her poverty reduction strategy program indicates that credit granted to the agricultural sector improved from 21% in 2001 to 52% in 2003. Keep in mind that Ghana is an agro-base economy. The reduction in inflation and interest rate cannot be over emphasized. Small business owners can go for loans to improve their businesses, and banks would not be reluctant to lend, as opposed to previously, where banks were investing in treasury bills because it was lucrative.

In the past when the criminal libel law was in effect, the citizenry was not haste to write or speak for fear of doing jail time. The present government took care of that obsolete law, the result; people are writing and speaking their opinions, no encumbrance. The PNDC government deserves credit for embracing democracy in Ghana. Some of the improvements would not have been possible. Granted the present government has not hit a “home-run” with their policies. The yard-stick for measurement and the operative word for assessment of prevailing conditions in Ghana, I think should be “improvement”.

Therefore, the question voters are puzzle with come December, 2004 is whether to continue to lay structure on the foundation that the present government has built, or vote to dismantle and initiate an alternative? In other words, vote for advancement, or retrogress? Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

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