Political parties must remove their torn banners, posters from the streets

Street Of Accra96.png Faded and frayed banners of political parties still hanging from poles on the streets of Accra

Wed, 28 Apr 2021 Source: Philip Afeti Korto

I took the picture above in the city of Accra but later when I went to other cities, the situation was the same or even worse. It depicts the faded and frayed banners of the two major political parties in Ghana, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC).

It has been the practice in every election year that various political parties use banners, billboards, posters and other materials to advertise their candidates, party slogans or just to portray the parties conspicuously to the electorates.

It is an electoral offence in Ghana to destroy, vandalize, deface, or remove the campaign materials of other contesting candidates or political parties. It is unlawful and the electoral codes frown on it.

Unfortunately, the political parties and the candidates contesting in the elections have not demonstrated enough commitment to environmental responsibility.

They are interested in adorning the streets with their campaign materials and other paraphernalia for visibility during an electoral season and once that is over, the cities become dirty and city aesthetic value distorted with torn posters, banners and other campaign advertisement materials. The political parties do not remove the faded and torn banners and posters from the streets.

Seemingly, there are no regulations relating to where to place posters and other campaign materials and when to remove them. Even the Political Parties Law, 2000 (Act 574) is silent on the need for political parties to be environmentally responsible in the conduct of their campaigns.

As such, campaign managers and other party officials display campaign materials (on walls, on the streets, on electricity poles, on walls of people’s houses etc) and anyhow. It is an operation to fill every space.

After every election, our cities and villages become dirty with faded and tattered political party banners, posters and other campaign materials. If the political parties were environmentally responsible, they would have been removing these materials from the streets after an electoral season. Ironically, some of the politicians who do this are the same people who make laws and expect others to obey those laws.

Article 36 (9) of the 1992 Constitution states, “The State shall take appropriate measures needed to protect and safeguard the national environment for posterity; and shall seek cooperation with other states and bodies for purposes of protecting the wider international environment for mankind.” Article 41 (k) of the Constitution also states inter alia, “…it shall be the duty of every citizen to protect and safeguard the environment.”

With the menace of the torn political party banners on the streets, can one justifiably argue that the political parties are not complying with the corresponding constitutional provisions regarding keeping the environment clean? I must be fair and indicate that it is not only the political parties that are contributing to this menace.

Funeral makers, advertising companies, religious organisations and many others are equally contributing to this environmental-related problem.

Regarding the political parties, one may think that the Electoral Commission (EC), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), or any other statutory body would ensure that the political parties sanitize our streets, walls and other surfaces by removing campaign materials after elections are over.

I am in a limbo as to which statutory body is not doing its work, thereby allowing political parties and other groups to make our cities dirty and therefore not attractive.

In fact, article 87 (2) (c) of the 1992 Constitution mandates the NDPC to make proposals for the protection of the natural and physical environment at the behest of the President or Parliament or as part of the NDPC’s own initiatives.

It should not be lost on us as a nation that we are working on the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) including SDG 6 which relates to clean water and sanitation with one of the targets that states, “Support and strengthen the participation of local communities in improving water and sanitation management.”

We have only been hearing political slogans or jargons like Vision 2020, Akosombo Accord, Better Ghana Agenda, Ghana Beyond Aid, Ye Sesamu, Making Accra the cleanest city in Africa, Incompetence, we have the men, Yutong Bus Driver, Kume Preko, Prof Do Little and many more. How meaningfully impactful are they on the lives of the people?

Perhaps in the absence of a regulator, the political parties themselves must make it a duty to tidy up the cities after every campaign season as a sign of commitment to physical environmental protection and exemplary leadership.

Columnist: Philip Afeti Korto