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Feature Article of Monday, 2 April 2012

Columnist: Aidoo, Ato

Ghana’s Crocodile Politics

By Ato Aidoo

Though relatively short, one of the most shameful revelations in contemporary American politics – McCarthyism, appears to be finding a permanent space in Ghanaian politics as accusations and commentaries on the economy have proven to be untrue.

Guided by realism or so-called practical politics, Ghana’s ruling political party seeks to consolidate power for its own sake. This represents a threat to the country’s fragile democracy, and the world must wake up to resist the introduction of realpolitik in Ghana.

Not too long ago, Ghana started a biometric registration exercise to rid its electoral data of ghost names, and to curtail double registration which is common knowledge in a country that continues to tout its democratic credentials, and yet not much has been done to restrict such infractions. Much as Ghana has achieved a measure of political stability in a turbulent continent in which elections easily spark violence, critical minds and global democratic watchers should prevail upon the government to act right. There is a thin line between peace and violence.

Ghana’s election cycle indicates a phenomenon – that the people have accepted the process of democracy as the determinant of their future, choose their own leaders, and set the course for their own nation. But a potential threat remains, as reckless political slippages and inept management of information are damaging the government’s expression of peace and responsible security machinery. A simple process of biometric registration has already claimed the life of a 12-year-old boy, whilst some injuries have been recorded in perceived electoral strongholds of the government and the main opposition party.

Recently, Senegal chalked a milestone by passing what the Brookings Institute termed as a “stress test” of democracy after anxious moments of debate and tensions, culminating in the defeat of the incumbent, President Abdoulaye Wade by Macky Sall. The African Union did not waste time in praising the maturity of Senegal’s democracy, and how it played out smoothly. This serves as a reminder, that the credibility of democratic processes should also resonate in the Ghanaian electoral posture to protect our people.

The search for a common ground, debating matters of governance, providing jobs, expanding the Ghanaian economy, and ensuring peaceful elections should generate a concrete schedule that would give the people adequate information on critical issues and development paradigms that make sense.

For this to happen, politicians local authorities, and civil society should not be hindered, but allowed to play an active role in ensuring that biometric registration and the electoral process are free from intimidation and pettiness. In the interest of national cohesion, peace and reconciliation, governments support democratic and economic institutions to ensure peace before and after elections. Good governance also means strengthening election-related work.

Majority of Ghanaians are frustrated by the government’s minimal progress, citing growing insecurity, lawlessness, and declining quality of life caused by high prices of basic commodities, infrequent power and water supply, skewed unprecedented achievements, and falling health standards as key elements of their dissatisfaction. The government of Ghana has also not helped the situation as it continues to exacerbate these problems by making more promises based on achievements that cannot be supported with actual developments, or which have not taken into account the possible negative consequences of such examples.

As Winton Churchill once said “politics is the ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month and next year. And to have the ability afterwards to explain why it did not happen”. In Ghana, the promises have not yielded the desired results, even a fundamental medical intervention – free maternal healthcare delivery has been truncated.

More than any time in history, humanity faces crossroads; one path leads to despair, the other - utter hopelessness and fear mongering. But the good news is that Ghanaians can continue to pray, that through their wisdom they can choose a new leader who can reverse these difficulties bereft of “crocodile politics” – an arrangement full of excuses, but are less convincing.

What then prevents the politically-inclined from saying that the opposition’s Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is well positioned to become the next president of Ghana in the light of these avoidable difficulties? An occasional glance towards the summit keeps this hope alive.

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