General News of Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Source: The Finder Newspaper

Parties blow GHC549 million on adverts and gifts

An estimated amount of GHC 549 million has been spent by the country’s political parties on all forms of advertisements and inducements aimed at wooing the electorate to vote for them in the forthcoming Presidential and Parliamentary elections.

The money is being spent on advertisements, promotions, billboards, vehicles, motorbikes and bicycles, and as direct monetary gifts to voters.

According to investigations conducted by The Finder newspaper, about GHC 350 million has been spent so far on advertisement on television, radio and newspaper while billboards have consumed some GHC21 million mainly in the Greater Accra Region.

About GHC 120 million is said to be spent on vehicles, including four wheel drives, for party supporters and so-called opinion leaders.

Our investigations also revealed that the various political parties have spent an estimated GHC 50 million on various types of inducements on voter canvassers and voters. Some of the inducements have been in the forms of motorbikes, bicycles, T-shirts and souvenirs, among others.

The main beneficiaries of the motorbikes beneficiaries of the motorbikes and bicycles are believed to be party foot soldiers.

According to the investigations, most of the billboards are sited within the Greater Accra Region, especially along the Mallam-Kasoa Highway, the Osu Oxford Street, the Independence Avenue, the Kojo Thompson Road, the 37- Madina road and Airprot, among others.

The two main political parties – the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) – are obiviously the biggest spenders on the campaign trail, with the NDc on top, reversing the situation during the last elections when the NPP dominated in adverts and billboards.

Speaking to The Finder, a member of the communication team for the Convention People’s Party (CPP), Mr. Thomas Abroni alleged that he had personally seen money being given out to potential voters in his constituency.

“I can confirm that that in Amasaman, my constituency, the ruling party is giving GHC 50 per person and in some of the tertiary institutions like University of Ghana,” he alleged. He lamented, “These monies and gifts are being given to the people now for sake of attaining power and they are using our taxes to buy their votes.”

He described the situation as worrying, adding that it amounted to the monetization of democracy in Ghana.

National youth organiser of the Progressive People’s Party (PPP), Mr. Divine Nkrumah decribed the situation as “blatant abuse of incumbency.”

He wondered how the two major political parties were funding their campaigns, adding that “dubious” sources of funds for political campaigning had the tendency to breed corruption.

Mr. Nkrumah reiterated his party’s call for political parties to come out with their sources of funding. “We are saying that other parties should tell Ghanaians how they are funding their campaign activities as the PPP has already done.”

The Finder in April this year put political party expenditure on advertisements and other promotional materials for 2008 Presidential and Parliamentary elections at GHC128 million, based on figures supplied by media houses and agencies.

This year’s figure, therefore, represents a huge climb over the 2008 figures and is likely to be the highest election spending in the country’s history.