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Opinions of Thursday, 31 May 2007

Columnist: Hayford, Kwesi Atta-Krufi

2008 elections will be fought on proven track record

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…not empty rhetoric

The Economist Intelligence Unit, the internationally-reputed research arm of the Economist newspaper, has issued its report on Ghana and it makes an interesting reading. A highly balanced and dispassionate report, it gives the political and economic outlook for Ghana in 2007-8 and sets a poignant scenario for the 2008 elections. It has prised open the difficulties that the main political opponents in our country face. It taints Professor Mills as being too close to the old NDC regime and may carry its previous baggage of human right abuses and poor economic performances. It equally attacks the NPP administration on its in-fighting for the successor to President Kufuor and its inability to get on top of the energy crisis. Thus both protagonists for 2008 are badly battered by the report but not beyond recovery. As a result the EIU report predicts that 2008 would be too close to call. "Overall, we expect the 2008 vote to be reasonably close", the report stated.

It is against this background that the author predicts that 2008 will be fought on the balance of proven track record. The nation is going to do a quick rewind to 1992, fast forward to 2001 and pause for reflection. From that pause, they are going to go through 2001-2008 with a fine tooth comb and spot the similarities and differences, and then make a valued decision. An interesting analysis, but that will be the analysis of the floating discerning voter, totalling about 12% of the voter population. 43% of the voting population will not need that analysis anyway and vote for the NDC because they are flesh and blood NDC. To them nothing changes. Another 45% will equally be blind to any analysis and vote NPP because to them the NPP government is the only government that can save Ghana irrespective of record.

It is the fight to win the hearts and minds of the 12% that makes the EIU report an interesting read.

"Positively for the government,” the report states that “real GDP growth is forecast to remain reasonably strong, owing to a high international price for gold and a good cocoa harvest. Against the background of a stable inflation rate and a steady cedi, the NPP will be able to campaign on a sound macroeconomic record."

For the opposition, the report states “the NDC will continue to challenge the NPP on a number of issues, particularly corruption and governance." The recent crisis meeting by the NDC at Coco-Beach was to plan and launch this campaign on a more solidified ground.

The EIU report touches on the record of the two administrations, NDC and NPP. On NDC, the report states that Professor Mills “As a former vice-president of an NDC government, is tainted with links to an administration that has been accused of human rights abuses and economic mismanagement.”

On NPP the report stated that the NPP on the other hand, has declared that it wants to focus in particular on economic and business management but the EIU has had to revise its figures on economic growth. Gross Domestic Product is now expected to rise by just 5.7 percent, down from the previous forecast of 6.2 percent. This means the economy is slowing down not because of poor economic management but because of the recent power outrage. I believe the NDC and Prof. Mills are going to continue to court the media with a savvy campaign aimed at hitting the NPP where it hurts e.g. the current energy crisis which I believe is a 50-year-old-neglected-business of all past and present governments of Ghana.

I believe on the balance of probability the jury might return a verdict on behalf of NPP in 2008. This is because the NDC have largely become sycophantically opportunistic to media attacks on government and has begun to play into the hands of political rhetoric without much substance. The NPP have on the other hand tangible economic and social signposts like the education reforms in the areas of Capitation Grant, School Feeding Project; economic regeneration programmes like the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA), National Youth in Employment Programme (NYEP); economic achievements to reach the inflation target of below 10% for the first time in over twenty years and a stable cedi in the face of spiralling world crude oil price increases. The “Cash and Carry” health programme pursued by the NDC is dwarfed by all standards by the NHIS introduced by the NPP.

The NDC constructed roads in the country and have to be given credit for it but it pales into insignificance when compared to the myriad of major trunk roads undertaken by the NPP administration. Currently the country’s foreign reserves has crossed the two billion dollar mark for the first time ever in the nation’s history, compared to the 141 trillion cedi debt and the two weeks’ fuel reserve that the NPP inherited in 2001.

Sports does bring good feeling among people and this feel good factor is likely to assist the NPP in CANN 2008 when the new stadia are outdoored and Ghana opens its borders for footballing glory.

A tricky one is the age-old “no money in our pockets,” but the micro financing programme if managed well especially for the benefit of mothering women and the minimum wage rising above the two dollar ($2) mark for the first time in the nation’s history will bring some smiles to the faces of the “floating voters”

Kwesi Atta-Krufi Hayford (London)

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

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