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General News of Thursday, 1 November 2012

Source: myjoyonline.com

President Mahama, NDC cited for abuse of incumbency

President John Mahama and the National Democratic Congress have been sighted for abuse of incumbency in the latest report by anti-corruption body Ghana Integrity Initiative and the Centre for Democratic Development as well as the Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition. 

Since May 1, 2012, GII, CDD-Ghana and GACC assisted by trained observers have been monitoring abuse of incumbency in the period leading to Ghana’s up-coming 2012 elections. 

The report cites the president for using his recent thank you tour after the death of President Atta Mills for electoral campaign. 

The aim of the exercise is to monitor and expose the extent of both the occurrence and variety, of abuse of incumbency and pre-election political party corruption in Ghana, as a tool for promoting clean and fair elections in the upcoming 2012 elections. 

Specifically, the project tracks the abuse of institutional resources, budget resources and state media resources by the ruling party, sitting members of parliament and other government appointees; as well as monitor electoral corruption. 

Below is the press release on the report

Second Report on the Monitoring of Abuse of Incumbency Project in Ghana’s 2012 Elections By GII, CDD-Ghana and GACC

Friends of the media, the Coalition of civil society organizations “Monitoring the Abuse of Incumbency in the 2012 Elections”, comprising the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), the Ghana Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) and the Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC) is happy to release its second report for your information and public discourse. 

Introduction 

Since May 1, 2012, GII, CDD-Ghana and GACC assisted by trained observers have been monitoring abuse of incumbency in the period leading to Ghana’s up-coming 2012 elections. The aim of the exercise is to monitor and expose the extent of both the occurrence and variety, of abuse of incumbency and pre-election political party corruption in Ghana, as a tool for promoting clean and fair elections in the upcoming 2012 elections. Specifically, the project tracks the abuse of institutional resources, budget resources and state media resources by the ruling party, sitting members of parliament and other government appointees; as well as monitor electoral corruption. 

Methodology and Scope 

The thirty-five (35) trained observers work in three constituencies in each of the 10 regions of Ghana and five media observers observe state media in Accra. The observers send weekly reports to the coalition and a draft report is produced by the Steering Committee of the Coalition and reviewed by the Project’s Review Committee.

Main Findings: 

The coalition presents in this second report various incidents of abuse of incumbency and electoral corruption. These incidents fall under three categories; the use of official public/state-supported or state-organized events for campaigning by the incumbent party; engagement of public office employees in campaign activities during business hours in favor of incumbent party and vote buying.

These incidents were observed in the following regions and constituencies: Central Region, Cape Coast Constituency, Greater Accra Region, Odododiodio Constituencies, Western Region, Ellembele Constituency and in the Eastern Region, Abuakwa North Constituency. 

Abuse of incumbency: 

Use of official public/state-supported or state-organized events for campaigning by the incumbent party:

On 17th July, 2012, our observer in Cape Coast in the Central region reported that, H.E President John Dramani Mahama during the state sponsored “Thank You Tour” of Cape Coast following the death and burial of the late President used the platform to urge the people of Cape Coast to elect him to continue the “better Ghana agenda”. This occurred when he visited the Mosque at Kotokoraba at 1.00 pm that day. 

Engagement of public office employees in campaign activities during business hours in favor of incumbent party

Our observer in Western region reported that, on the 11th of July, 2012 in Ellembelle, one Mr. Clearance Morkeh Abizi who is an NDC activist and also a member of Ellembelle Constituency NDC communication team participated as a panelist on Ankobra News paper review on Ankobra FM. Mr. Clearance Morkeh Abizi works at the Ellembelle District Education Office, a public office. The program was aired as is always done between the hours of 7:30 am - 10:00am and is hosted by Mr. Kwabina Amofa. The issue of abuse of incumbency is arising from the fact that, Mr. Clearance Morkeh Abizi, who is a public officer, used office hours for the business of his political party on Wednesday, 11th of July, 2012.

Electoral Corruption

Vote buying: 
1. Our observer reported that, in the Tema West Constituency, the major streets of the Lashibi community area have been fixed with high powered street lights. The project was reported to be an initiative of Hon. Samuel Ofosu Ampofo and has been commissioned. The commissioning ceremony was attended by the NDC constituency executive members. The Minister appealed to the electorates to vote for him in the December elections during the commissioning ceremony. The timing of the project and the attendance of the commissioning ceremony by party executives as well as the appeal for votes are the issues of concern. 

2. Our observer in the Upper West region reported that, when the presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Addo Danquah Akuffo Addo, was on his six day tour of the region, anybody who had either a motor bike or a car and was interested could freely draw fuel from the “Ramubus” Goil filling station at the T-Junction on the Wa- Hamile road, to welcome Nana and follow him round the region on the tour. This is seen as indirectly buying votes as some of the beneficiaries were not necessarily party of his entourage,

3. Our observers in the Upper West region also reported that, during the “Thank You Tour” by President John Dramani Mahama to the region, following the death and burial of the late President, some motor bike riders were allowed to collect fuel for free at some filling stations including the “Ramubus” Goil Filling station located at T-Junction on the Wa-Hamile road. The president also promised that the regional hospital was going to be constructed with loans that have been secured from Barclays Bank. This was state-sponsored event and the Coalition wonders why fuel was accessed for free. The question is: who is going to pay for the fuel? 

Fair and Equal Access to State Media Resources

The findings from the media observations cover the period July and September 2012:

News Distribution 
• In July 2012, news distribution in terms of stories aired and published on the political parties revealed that, the Ghanaian Times, the Daily Graphic, the Spectator, and the GTV allotted to the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) an equal share of 17% each in July. While the Convention Peoples Party (CPP) had 7% news coverage, the Progressive Peoples Party (PPP), had 6%. The Peoples National Convention (PNC) also had a total news share of 6% in July, 2012. In September, Uniiq FM, GTV, Ghanaian Times, and Spectator overall gave the NPP the highest share of 13% followed by the NDC with 12%; PPP received 8% coverage while the CPP and PNC received 5% each. 

• In July, the Spectatornewspaper allotted to the NDC the biggest news share of 40%, while the NPP was allotted 27%. The CPP and PNC had an equal share of 13% each while the PPP had 7%.

• In September, however, the NPP secured the highest share of 36% whiles the NDC’s coverage dropped to 7%.

• In July the Daily Graphic newspaper allotted to the NPP the highest coverage of 36% followed by the NDC with 30%, PPP 12% while the CPP and PNC had an equal share of 11% each.

• The Ghanaian Times in September allocated to the NDC the highest share of 45% coverage and while it gave the NPP, 23% news coverage share, showing a drop of 22% in attention as compared to what it gave the ruling party in July, 2012. The CPP and PPP equally secured a 14% share with the PNC securing 5%.

• In July, GTV allotted the highest news share of 30% to NDC. However, in September, the NPP secured coverage of 32% and the NDC 23%. 

Space Allocation and News Air Time


The monitoring also measured fairness and equal access of space given to all political parties and length of airtime to their stories. 

• In July, the Spectator newspaper allotted to the NDC the highest space share of 36% and the NPP 33%. In September, the newspaper allotted the highest news space share to NPP with a total of 36%, followed by the NDC with 30%. It gave the CPP 15% space in July and 23% in September while it allotted to the PPP 13% in July and 11% in September. The PNC also had 13% in July, 2012.

• In July, the Daily Graphic allotted the largest space of 33% to the NPP followed by 31% to the NDC and PNC 14%. The PPP and CPP recorded 13% and 9% respectively in the same month. 

• In September, the Ghanaian Times newspaper gave the CPP the highest space. It allotted a total of 36% to the CPP followed by NDC with 32% while the NPP had 10%.

• In July, the GTV allotted the highest airtime to PNC with a total of 1 hour, 32 minutes and 35 seconds. The NDC and NPP were allotted equal share of 5 minutes and 5 seconds each. The CPP and the PPP also were given an equal share of 1 minute and 50 seconds each. It is instructive to note that campaigns had been suspended due to the death of President Attah-Mills dung the month of July.

• In September, the state TV gave the highest air time to the NPP, as the party recorded 4 hours and 16 minutes, followed by the NDC with 21 minutes, PPP with 4 minutes whereas the CPP and PNC received equal share of 2 minutes each.

• In September, the Uniiq FM gave the highest air slot to the NPP with a total of 6 hours, 7 minutes and 15 seconds. The NDC was given 5 hours and 9 minutes by the state–owned radio followed by the CPP with 3 hours, 15 minutes and 35 seconds. The PNC had 2 hours and 15 minutes while the PPP was given 2 hours and 1 minute air time in the same month. The station also gave the NDP a total of 1 hour and 36 minutes. The Ghana Freedom Party (GFP) and New Vision Party (NVP) had an equal share of 12 minutes each whereas the Independent People’s Party (IPP) and the United Renaissance Party (URP) had 9 minutes and 5 minutes respectively. Other parties like the GCPP, UFP, YPP, and RPD had 2 minutes and 45 seconds, 2 minutes, 2 minutes and 1 minute, respectively. 

Media Coverage of Presidential Candidates 

• In July, the Spectator newspaper allotted to the NDC Presidential candidate the highest slot of 40% and the NPP’s Nana Addo Danquah Akuffo Addo 27%. The PPP Dr. Paa Kwasi Nduom and Dr. Abu Sakara of CPP had equal share of 13% each and PNC’s Hassan Ayariga had 7%. 

• In September, however, the Spectator allotted the highest coverage to Dr. Paa Kwasi Nduom with a total of 43% followed by Nana Addo Danquah Akuffo Addo 29% and an equal share of 14% to President John Mahama and Dr. Abu Sakkara. 

• The Daily Graphic gave the highest news share of 33% to the NPP Flag bearer in July, 2012 followed by PNC’s Hassan Ayariga with 30% news share. The NDC candidate was not featured as a flag bearer during the month of July following the death of President Attah-Mills.

• The Ghanaian Times allotted the highest news share to NDC’s Presidential Candidate John Mahama with a total of 50% in September. The NPP’s Nana Addo had 30% while the CPP’s Dr. Abu Sakara had 13% only. 

• GTV The NPP’s flagbearer secured 36% followed by NDC’s John Mahama and Dr. Paa Kwasi Nduom with 19% each.

• Dr. Abu Sakara of CPP and Madam Akua Donkor of GFP had equal share of 6% each while Mr. Hassan Ayariga had 4%. Mr. Kofi Akpalo of the Independent Peoples Party (IPP), Prophet Dan Nkansah of NVP, Kwabena Agyei of RPD, Kofi Wayo of URP had 1% each for the month of September.

• Uniiq FM also during the month of September allotted the highest news coverage to the NPP Presidential candidate, Nana Addo with 29% followed by the NDC’s Presidential candidate with 25%, PPP’s Dr. Paa Kwasi Nduom with 11%, CPP’s Dr. Sakara and PNC’s Hassan Ayariga had equal share of 8% each while GFP’s Akua Donkor had 7%, URP’s Kofi Wayo had 4% and NDP’s Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings had 3% and GCPP’s Henry Herbert Lartey also had 3%. 

Airtime allocation

• In the month of September, Uniiq FM gave the largest airtime to the ruling NDC’s candidate, John Mahama with a total of 7 hours, 6 minutes and 9 seconds, followed by the Nana Addo Danquah Akufo Addo with 6 hours, 22 minutes and 9 seconds time slot. CPP’s Dr. Abu Sakara had 3 hours and 55 seconds while PNC’s Hassan Ayariga had 1 hour and 51 minutes.

• The state radio also allotted Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom a total of 9 minutes and 30 seconds , GFP’s Akua Donkor a total of 4 minutes , NDP’s Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings a total of 3 minutes air slot and GCPP’s - Henry Herbert Lartey a total of 1 minute and 45 seconds in September 2012

• In July, GTV allotted the highest slot to the PNC’s Hassan Ayariga with 1 hour, 30 minutes and 30 seconds air time and NPP’s Nana Addo with 1 minute and 30 seconds.

• However, in September, GTV allotted the highest air time share to the NPP’s, Nana Addo with a total of 4 hours, 1 minutes and 22 seconds and gave the NDC’s Presidential candidate a total of 3 hours and 33 minutes, CPP’s Abu Sakara had 1hour and 34 minutes, GFP’s Akua Donkor was allotted 1 hour and 24 minutes. URP’s Kofi Wayo was allotted 1 hour and 20 minutes, PPP’s Kwasi Nduom 10 minutes, PNC’s Hassan Ayariga 4 minutes, and IPP’s Kofi Akpaloo 3 minutes. However, RPD’s Kwabena Agyei was allotted only 2 minutes and NVP’s Prophet Dan Nkansah 1 minute air time.

• The Daily Graphic in July allotted the NPP’s Nana Addo the highest news space of 40% followed by the CPP’s Dr. Sakara with 31%. Dr. Ndoum was allotted 15% and NDC’s Mahama 14%. 

• The Ghanaian Times in September allotted the NDC’s John Mahama the highest news space of 44% and the NPP’s Nana Addo 32%. CPP’s Dr. Abu Sakara had 16% and the PPP’s Dr. Kwesi Nduom had 8%.

RECOMMENDATIONS

1. It has been the practice in the past that close to elections; politicians give gifts to influence both old and young people to vote for them. Through this monitoring exercise, our observers have observed the distribution of, valuable gifts such as motorcycles, searchlight dishes, money donations to and renovation works of churches. On certain occasions, distribution of fuel for motorbikes and distribution of bicycles have been observed. The Coalition also wants to draw attention to this practice viewed as ‘vote buying’ that seems to have eaten deep into our electioneering process, which impacts negatively on the integrity of elections and the legitimacy of government. It is a practice that makes democracy very expensive and creates an unequal playing field for candidates contesting in the elections. The Coalition wants to advise politicians to put a stop to this practice of increasingly influencing voters with money and gifts as it is gradually creating a system where only the rich/affluent and sometimes the corrupt will be elected as the representatives of the people and this has the potential of sidelining the interest of the poor and the marginalized. 

2. The Coalition will also want to draw attention to the practice of “last minute” promises and even introduction and implementation of new government policies and projects close to elections. Some projects are even launched while some communities are promised projects that are dear to the hearts of voters that never see the light of day. For example, during this monitoring period, our observers observed that the ruling NDC government indicated through its Deputy Minister of Energy, Hon. Alhaji Inusah Fuseini that, it was going to distribute gas cylinders to the rural folk - the criteria for the distribution has not been made known yet. It was also observed that during the President’s “Thank You Tour”, he promised the people of Upper West region, that the regional hospital was going to be constructed with loans government has secured from Barclays Bank. This is a project that was promised the people of the region by the NPP administration which never materialized. The NDC government also cut the sod for the same project in the first year of its administration but the project never took off except the clearing of the site. This practice must stop as it is viewed as subtly using government projects during campaigning period to solicit votes from the electorate and does not exhibit integrity in our electoral processes.

3. The Coalition is, however, happy with the coverage of political parties and their candidates by the state media as no clear bias has been demonstrated towards any particular political party. It is our hope that this will continue until the elections.

In conclusion, the Coalition wishes to appeal to the ruling National Democratic Congress to avoid any acts that are actually or are perceived by the electorate to be abuses of incumbency. In the same way, the Coalition appeals to all political parties and politicians to ensure that they display fairness in all their campaigns towards the elections. The Coalition notes with satisfaction that no instances of intimidation by the security agencies have been reported although quite recently a demonstration, for which permission was given, was stopped at short notice. We call on all people of influence, including the members of the Council of State, religious and traditional leaders, and other well-meaning Ghanaians to condemn abuse of incumbency and acts of electoral corruption so as to have a fair and level playing field from now to the elections. 

Thank you!

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