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General News of Monday, 8 August 2016

Source: Myjoyonline.com

Partisan tagging is ridiculous occupational hazard – IEA, CDD

Two of the country's leading think-tanks on politics and economy say accusations of governments that they are always in bed with the opposition are ridiculous and preposterous.

According to Governance and Legal Policy Officer of the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) Kojo Pumpuni Asante, established think-tanks like his, have no time to think partisan when they are conducting research or publishing findings which do not flatter the government.

The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), Center for Democratic Development (CDD), Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG) and IMANI-Ghana, have all incurred the wrath of the governing National Democratic Congress (NDC) after it accused them of working for the New Patriotic Party (NPP).

The NDC has severed ties with the IEA and has withdrawn from this year’s presidential debates. The NDC's withdrawal is not a precedent. President Kufuor as NPP flagbearer for the 2004 elections did not participate in the presidential debates for that election.

But according to Kojo Pumpuni Asante finger-pointing from government is not new. ”I had clashes all the time during the NPP time,” he referred to the 8-year NPP administration from 2001 to 2008.

A former Board member of the IEA Naana Opoku Agyemang is now Education minister under the NDC government, he reminded.

Kojo Pumpuni Asante explained that the work it does follow research principles and a methodology that is published to entrench its attention to objectivity.
“Thank God for the internet. Thank God for publications,” he said on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show, people can trace years of their work, evaluate their objectivity and come to a conclusion on whether they are being partisan.

For a professional researcher and a lawyer, Kojo Pumpuni said he found it “insulting” for government spokespersons to suggest the CDD-Ghana is politically partisan.

"I am really at a loss when people say these things because we don’t have time to think about this" he expressed frustrations.

If it was for money, he could have made it in the private sector, he said. But advocating for good governance and democracy is what makes him tick. “We are passionate about what we do”, he stressed.

“Ghana needs our work more than before” Dr. Kojo Pumpuni Asante said and expressed determination to focus on the think-tank’s core mandate.
Dr. Kwesi Jonah who is a Fellow at IDEG backed the objectivity of established think-tanks. “No Civil Society Organisation, I can speak for IDEG, IEA, will set out to deliberately attack government”.

He nonetheless accepts that such tagging may not go away any time soon. “It is an occupational hazard”.

He noted that government's unaccomodating posture towards civil society organisation is a "very very African problem" because of the selfish interest of particularly African politicians.

In the US, President Obama "would not lose sleep over" a publication that said his administration is poor on foreign policy.

Dr. Jonah observed that African politicians are "short-termist" and are interested in making money in government in order to enjoy a sustainable level of comfort in opposition.