ARE MANIFESTOS SIGNIFICANT IN AFRICAN ELECTIONS? -ASK
For any effective campaign that would establish the seriousness of political parties seeking power, messages must take the centre stage and lead the discussions with issues rather than insults.
Political parties are required to know the problems of the people and be able to define means by which such problems could be resolved. For this reason, every serious political party must have a focus on research and build strong teams that can help them collect data from the ground for serious analysis and presentation.
Significant to this political discourse is a well-crafted manifesto that addresses the common problems of the people. Manifestos are expected to give clear policy direction to the electorates of what political parties seek to deliver. It also represents the depth of social contract being sought from the people.
Considering the fact that these documents are mostly bulky, the electorates require ample time to be able to read and understand the various projected plans of each political party seeking power.
These documents become the benchmark against which the performance of any successful political party at the polls is measured. In the end, the critical minds in our society are able to match the promises prior to power to achievements when the power was given.
It is in this context that the National Democratic Congress (NDC) manifesto launch in Sunyani in the Brong Ahafo Region must be discussed.
Prior to the manifesto launch, the president of the Republic, His Excellency John Dramani Mahama delivered highlights of the manifesto to the people of Ghana at the State Banquet Hall. The event was used to present the content of the manifesto of what the party intends to do given the mandate for the next four years, as against what the party and government were able to achieve over the last four years.
Four thematic areas were tackled under the NDC manifesto; Investing in People, Expanding Infrastructure, Building a resilient economy and delivering Transparent and Accountable Governance to the people of Ghana.
On these four thematic areas, we can begin by touching on a few achievements in the various areas. On the theme; Investing in People, the government had expanded the net under the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) programme, expanded the School Feeding Programme, created jobs for hundreds of thousands of our citizens, the National Health Insurance Scheme had seen tremendous improvement, witnessing massive outpatient utilisation and paying huge sums of monies to service providers as against skepticism from a cross section of Ghanaians.
In the area of infrastructure, the government of the National Democratic Congress cannot be matched by any government under the 4th Republican dispensation. Huge structures in the areas of education are springing up across the country. The 123 Community Day Senior High Schools, the many schools under trees replaced with physical structures, the infrastructure that resulted in the abolishing of the notorious shift system in the capital city, Accra.
The roads sub-sector is seeing huge transformation. The construction of the Eastern Corridor Road is ongoing with sections completed. The completion and commissioning of the Fufulso-Sawla road, the Agona Junction-Elubo stretch, the completion of sections of the Accra Kumasi road, the Aburi-Nsawam road, the Cocoa roads being constructed, the Kwame Nkrumah Interchange project, the Kasoa Interchange, the asphalting of city roads across the country to mention a few.
Again on infrastructure, Ghanaians are witnessing the largest ever intervention in the health sector. A total of 6,000 hospital beds are being added by the time the various hospital projects being constructed are completed. Mention can be made of the 617-bed Legon Medical Centre, 612 Greater Accra Regional Hospital, 120-bed Dodowa District Hospital, 120-bed Fomena District Hospital, the Police Hospital expansion project, Regional Maritime Hospital, the Kumasi 37 Military Hospital at Afare.
In the area of building a resilient economy, this government had done tremendously well. The recently over subscribed Euro bond is remarkable. The government of Ghana entered the market with a bond of $750 million but had a return of $4 billion. Reasonably, no investor would risk investing such huge sums of monies in an economy that is not promising.
The revamp of the Komenda Sugar Factory, the Kumasi Shoe Factory, Pwalugu Tomatoes Factory, among others, is a clear attempt to bring back the productive sectors of the economy in shape. What we must all understand is that, no serious economy can survive without actively engaging in production. For this reason, we must always commend any government that is making frantic efforts to bring back factories that would produce to substitute import.
In the area of Transparent and Accountable Governance, we have witnessed transparency over the years. The Transparency International had consistently scored Ghana higher on the transparency curve. Governments are only able to score high on transparency when they open up government institutions for accountability.
Over the years, the NDC government had made it a policy to release reports of investigation for the public to see the rots being engaged in by people who were employed to serve the state. The National Service scandal is a case in point. We can also recount the prosecutions ongoing with regards to cases brought against appointees of government.
In all of these, we can begin assessing the extent to which political party manifestos impact on elections. Many have held the position that manifestos in Africa do not play in the decision on which personality is elected president. For me, speaking from my perspective as an active political watcher, manifestos are important in building consensus.
I say this because, if we all agree that we have common problems which need to be urgently addressed, and have had the chance of seeing and reading a manifesto that seeks to address those unique problems, then we can be in a better position to rally the people around to vote for a candidate that would resolve the many problems, taking away the situation where politics focus on trivialities as against substance.
As the NDC launched its manifesto on Saturday 17th September, 2016, we must all assess the document to appreciate its focus. The highlights have established the commitment to continously expand access to education, health, electricity, water, revamp the Abosso Glass Factory, and to reactivate some of the many factories abandoned after Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was overthrown in 1966.
As a citizen of this country, I am committed to reviewing the manifesto in my subsequent publications as soon as I lay my hands on a copy. I think I owe it a duty to make my opinions known based on my understanding of the content of the manifestos available into the 2016 elections. Same would be done to the various policies that would be proposed by other political parties as we seek to deliver the best of governance to the people of Ghana.