The vice presidential debate, organised in Takoradi last night by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) became a two-way affair between the running mates of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), Paa Kwesi Amissah-Arthur and the opposition New Patriotic Party's Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia.
The NDC running mate, at a point, lost concentration as questions had to be repeated for him to come back to life.
The women running mates on the tickets of the People's National Convention (PNC) and the Convention People's Party (CPP), Helen Senorita Dzatugbe Matervi and Cherita Sarpong-Kumankuma respectively, were practically out classed.
The debate started with a highly technical session swelling on macro-economics and solutions to inflation and proposals for solving the free fall of the cedi.
These technical questions clearly did not fall in the comfort zones of the women with expertise in areas of social services.
They both groped for answers as they turned to their notes and read copiously to answer the questions.
“This has been a very technical session and I am surprised we didn't have calculators and blackboards; etc. Unfortunately, those women at a point in time, were reading, and this is supposed to be a debate so it takes from their delivery,” admits Nana Oye Lithur, a lawyer and human rights advocate, who analyzed the debate on a television panel.
“The two women were slightly disadvantaged,” admitted Dede-Esi Amanor-Wilks, a CPP Parliamentary candidate who was also on the TV panel.
The vice presidential debate was a follow-up to an earlier debate organized for the presidential candidates of the four political parties, and this was the first time women participated in the debate.
Bawumia Vrs Amissah-Arthur
Right from the beginning of the debate, the NDC vice presidential candidate assumed a defensive posture, trying to parry virtually all the points raised by his opponent from the NPP.
“The vice president was not debating as far as I am concerned. He spends too much time reading to what Bawumia says and has very little time to address the questions,” Nana Oye-Lithur noted.
The high point of the face off between the economists was how they handled the technical questions about stemming inflation and the cedi depreciation.
In answering questions about his solution to the apparent lack of correlation between the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) and the real cost of living, Dr. Bawumia stuck to his position that the NDC was cooking cosmetic inflation figures, hence the relatively low inflation figures in the country contradicted the high cost of goods and services and interest rates.
Dr. Bawumia observed that all the factors were ripe for Ghana to be an economic powerhouse.
However, the vice president, who was the governor of the Bank of Ghana, rebutted the analysis of Dr. Bawumia, a former deputy governor, saying the high interest rates and its associated high cost of living was the handwork of the banks.
The composure of the vice presidential debaters was generally shaky at the beginning of the event, but Dr. Bawumia quickly regained his poise when the issues of economics were discussed.
A substantial part of the debate saw the women debaters struggling along in all the questions posed. Indeed, the CPP's Cherita Sarpong-Kumankuma admitted that she did not understand the technical questions and chose to simplify her responses.
Mr. Amissah-Arthur, at the latter part of the debate, drifted off as he asked for a repeat of a couple of the questions posed, particularly on his solution to the situation at the ports where importers spend days and weeks to clear their goods.
The vice president also misfired when a question of tourism was put to him, mentioning animal reserves instead of games reserves.
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