Free and Fair Elections: #1 Criterion for Development

Fri, 7 Dec 2012 Source: Owusu-Nkwantabisa, Nana

NDC and NPP party faithful have 3 tense days ahead of them as Ghana elects a new president and parliament on December 7, 2012. The National Democratic Congress (NDC) wants to retain power, and the National Patriotic Party (NPP) wants to regain power after losing narrowly to the NDC in 2008. The Ghanaian electorate has its economic and social fortunes pinged on the elections. The country, which became an oil producing country in 2009 and ushered in democratic governance in 2000, is hungry for growth and desires the right leadership to guide it to do so. The NPP boasts a stellar record between 2000 and 2008, but the NDC claims they’ve also been excellent custodians the last 4 years and need additional 4 years to execute the manifesto that ushered them in 2009. The NPP thinks otherwise and describes the NDC tenure as marred with incompetence and corruption.

Elections should settle the score, right? It should, except that because of electoral malpractices, the electorate is anxious that the credibility of the results would be compromised and there might be a stalemate. Electoral malpractice is symptomatic of the fundamental problem Ghana and by extension, other emerging democratic nations on the African continent face. Because of the history of dictatorship and corruption, there is so low confidence in government accountability and transparency that belief in the electoral process is nothing but an act of faith.

Africans are hungry for economic development. We want reliable infrastructure, the conveniences of modern homes, effective economic and social institutions etc. This author believes that above all priorities should be, a credible and trustworthy electoral system. We can penalize incompetence, corruption, etc. through the ballot box. Any party willing to rig elections is guaranteed to pursue corruption and malfeasance in office. We must therefore fight to ensure that the Electoral Commission is a paragon of efficiency for the public sector. A corrupt Electoral Commission would be symptomatic of government.

This is so critical that if the government ushered into office in 2013 accomplishes nothing but ensures that come 2016, the electoral system is sacrosanct, it will deserve to be returned to office.

Nana Owusu-Nkwantabisa

Columnist: Owusu-Nkwantabisa, Nana