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General News of Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Source: Graphic.com.gh

Passiveness of civil society groups bane of Ghana’s democracy - Rev. Martey

Ghana’s major challenge in democratic governance is the passiveness of civil society, the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, Rt Rev. Professor Emmanuel Martey, has observed.

Referring to civil society and the independent constitutional bodies such as the Electoral Commission (EC) and the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) Rev. Martey said they were principal actors that would not only promote reforms to increase political accountability but also had a crucial role to play in ensuring fair and credible elections to choose the nation’s leaders.

“It appears civil society has sold its birthright to greedy politicians and with only GH¢20.00 from a politician, a citizen will do whatever he or she is told to do to destroy the democratic process,” he opined.

Rev. Martey made the call at a day’s forum on “Fair and credible 2016 election,” organised by the local churches of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, in collaboration with the Muslim community, at the Faith Congregation of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, Madina.

Media management

On media management, he called on media owners to promote free, fair and credible elections by curbing the spate of insults, hate speech and negative propaganda spewed out by politicians, serial callers and spin doctors.

“The lack of applying stringent internal censorship to address these flaws and excesses sparked off conflicts and wars in Rwanda and in other countries,” he said.

Apathy of citizenry

Prof. Martey observed that one reason for low levels of political participation of citizens was that their parliamentarians and assembly representatives at the various levels did not know who those citizens really were, how they lived and what they needed.

“Ghanaians are, therefore, governed by leaders who have little knowledge, if any, of the people they govern and what their needs really are,” he said.

Political communicators

Speaking on intemperate language used by political parties, politicians and their spokespersons or communicators, the Dean of the School of Communication Studies of the Wisconsin International University College, Prof. Kwame Karikari, said it was surprising that political parties selected people whose specialisation was “to insult, lie, abuse, threaten the lives of decent citizens and preach violence to provoke division in the society” as spokespersons.

He said the most common abuse was the making of unsubstantiated allegations by political party communicators, hosts and representatives on radio programmes.

EC operates within law

The Chairperson of the EC, Mrs. Charlotte Osei, who walked the gathering through the electoral processes, said anything the commission duly informed and involved all political parties in whatever it did.

She said the EC was insulated from any influence under the Constitution and that whatever the EC did or was doing was backed by law.

Mrs. Osei urged Ghanaians to reject and shun politicians who told lies and wanted to take us to war and rather vote according to their conscience, adding “bad people were elected to govern when good people refused to vote”.

A Muslim Cleric, Sheikh Awal Larry, spoke on the violence in the name of Islam and expressed concern that most of the electoral disturbances in the country were perpetrated by Muslims, something the Qu’ran abhors.