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04.11.2004 General News

DCEs exploiting office to promote ruling party - CDD

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Accra, Nov. 4, GNA - The Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) has noted that District Chief Executives (DCEs) were using state resources to campaign for the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) towards Election 2004.

"DCEs are either campaigning for incumbent members of Parliament or lending public resources under their control to representatives of the governing party's re-election campaign," Professor Emmanuel Gyimah-Boadi told Journalists in Accra.

Presenting the first of a series of CDD-Ghana monitoring Reports on the political landscape titled: "Abuse of Incumbency, State Administrative Resources, and Political Corruption in Election 2004," Prof. Gyimah-Boadi called for ways "to reduce this disjuncture between the ideal of a DCE and the practice of a DCE.

"It would help to clarify the role DCEs play in the government of the country and remove the pretences and unrealistic expectation of DCEs non-partisanship".

Citing instances, Prof. Gyimah-Boadi said some DCEs used vehicles to join a campaign rally for aspiring NPP candidates and used official residences for NPP executive body meetings.

On what CDD-Ghana terms "politicisation of access to public facilities", the Executive Director said the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA) allowed the erection of NPP signboards inside two main roundabouts at Asafo in Kumasi, an act it described as "illegal and intolerable"

"It represents a clear abuse of incumbency, for the KMA to allow the incumbent party to use a public facility not available to others." The CDD-Ghana also cited instances of official events being turned into partisan functions and campaign rallies.

In Nabdam, a Skills Training and Employment Workshop turned into a pro-NPP event and in Okaikoi South, a sitting MP inaugurated publicly funded streetlights and launched an NPP branch office at the same event.

Prof Gyimah-Boadi said while some events were intended to be non-partisan, representatives of government in their official capacities took the opportunity to entreat potential voters to keep the incumbent administration in office.

"This behaviour," according to Prof Gyimah-Boadi, "is not only unprofessional but blurs the line between the role of these public servants on the one had and political operatives on the other." On distribution of public posts and resources for partisan gains, CDD-Ghana said contracts were awarded to individuals "not for reasons of professional competence but for reasons of political partisanship". The Report cited the Non-Formal Education Division of the Ghana Education Service for giving 100 raincoats to NPP supporters in Wa Central.

On the abuse of the state media, the CDD-Ghana monitoring report said Ghana Television, GBC Radio, Daily Graphic and the Ghanaian Times gave the ruling NPP more coverage than other opposition parties.

"...It is difficult to determine whether this reflects abundance of exciting NPP-organised newsworthy events, or conversely, a paucity of newsworthy opposition party-organised events or a predisposition on the part of the state media to cover officialdom and incumbent party activities."

Prof Gyimah-Boadi said democracy did not require that all contestants for an office received equal amounts of airtime or space. However, media organisations should not have a carte blanche to ignore opposition and minor parties just because opposition and minor parties had not organised big and expensive events. "Nor should the media consistently portray opposition parties in worse light than incumbents. To do so would greatly undermine Ghanaian democracy."

Journalist must go beyond organised politically driven news and be proactive in seeking and covering all contending political viewpoints. "It is particularly important that gate-keeping processes in state media houses do not lead to the marginalisation of opposition parties and over-projection of the ruling party."

The Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD) of the United Kingdom funded the Report covering September 18 to September 30 2004. It focused on the abuses of administrative and state media resources, as well as budgetary allocation.

The monitoring covered 12 constituencies in the Ashanti Region, nine in the Greater Accra, and four each in the Western, Northern and Upper East Regions.

The rest were three each in the Brong Ahafo and Volta Regions and two each in Upper West, Central and Eastern Regions as well as four state-owned media houses - Ghana Television, GBC Radio, Daily Graphic and Ghanaian Times.

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