Opinions Sun, 28 Aug 2016

Why I am not attracted by imanifesto or manifestoes

It’s hundred days to elections or should I say 4 months to elections and some are worried about the absence of manifestoes by at least the two leading parties.

This sent me searching the timelines for release of party manifestos in an election year. Since many Ghanaians are fond of American democracy, I went to USA. The Republican Party was the first to launch its manifesto; they call it Party-platform. The Republican party-platform 2016 was released on July 18, four (4) months to the November polls.

The Democratic party-platform 2016 was also released on July 25, same month and same period to elections. Again, I have gone through both manifestos and I must say not much is said about Africa except to continue with some existing networks like AGOA for the Republicans and to help in the fight against Terrorists. No free lunch baby! They care more about themselves.

Noticeably absent is COST analysis. The party-platforms do not provide any cost or figures to the initiatives or promises. However, it lays out how such a promise can be achieved. The Democrats for instance, promises to protect and expand social security. It provides that it will do so by taxing some of the income of people above $250,000.

It promises to build 21st century infrastructure including establishing a national infrastructure bank to give out loans. No cost is attached or even how to do it. On education it promises debt-free college and ensure that every student is able to go to college debt-free. It also says working families should not have to pay tuition to go to public colleges and universities. It does not provide the cost analysis in the MANIFESTO.

What’s the point here?

I think in this country, we talk too much. In a - way it’s good because many things do not work here; systems don’t work the way they should except we make some noise. It may be useful to demand manifestos.

It will not be terribly late if our political parties produce their manifestos this month or early next month, unless our argument is that we are a developing country and require manifestos to be out early-at least 6 months to enable the public-who hardly read these things anyway” scrutinise them.

That would be understandable. As noted elsewhere, manifestos do little in who wins the elections, but can serve as a great yardstick to measure government progress or otherwise and also hold them accountable. I am also not attracted by the argument that, every project or promise must have a cost analysis. It is sufficient but not adequate if they provide how to achieve it as noted in the democratic-party manifesto.

I am of the considered opinion that the vituperations and unhealthy criticisms of the IMANI PROJECT must not be encouraged. What do you expect from civil society groups?

This is one way of getting the parties to sit up. You do not also expect IMANI to abandon a project they have sourced funding for. That will be a disaster. I think it’s a wonderful initiative which can greatly be improved.
Columnist: Samuel Darko Appiah