Some members of the public, governance institutions and political parties have expressed varied views about the delay in the unveiling of the manifestoes of some political parties, with just three months to the December 7 polls.
Dr Franklin Oduro, the Deputy Director and Head of Research and Programmes at the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana); Mr Franklin Cudjoe, the Chief Executive Officer of Imani Ghana; Dr Steve Manteaw of the Integrated Social Development Centre (ISODEC) and Dr Ransford Gyampoh, a senior lecturer at the Department of Political Science of the University of Ghana and Director of the Centre for European Studies, were unanimous in their view that the situation was not the best for the development of the country’s democracy.
Some members of the public who spoke to the Daily Graphic were, however, divided in their opinions regarding the late unveiling of the manifestoes by some parties.
Some said they would make informed decisions based on manifestoes; others said their minds had already been made up as to who they would vote for, while some were of the view that they would vote for the party that provides convincing oral plans and programmes for the betterment of their lives.
With 93 days to the December 7, 2016 polls, concerns have been raised over the delay in the ‘outdooring’ of manifestoes by political parties, especially the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP).
No governing law
While there is no law that requires parties to make their manifestoes public within a stipulated period of time before elections, concerns expressed by some people point to the fact that their ability to make informed decisions on which party to vote for would be contingent on what they read in the manifestoes of the various parties.
Another opinion is that since the inception of constitutional rule in 1992, two parties have alternatively won political power and, therefore, the contest for political governance this year is a straight fight between the NDC and the NPP.
Those who hold this opinion further argue that the traditions of the two major political parties are well known, for which reason with or without a manifesto, electoral decisions could be made.
Ms Mary Amenyo, a pharmacist who plies her trade within the Free Zones enclave in Tema and who described herself as a floating voter, said she had lost interest in the manifestoes of the political parties because what the parties put in those documents was quite often intended to woo voters, but when the parties assumed power, they chose to do whatever they wanted.
For her, with or without a manifesto, she was following developments in the media which would help her take a decision.
Mr Benjamin Prempeh, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Benberni Consult, a travel and tours consultancy firm, said manifestoes are very important in that they spell out clearly the plans and programmes that the various political parties have for the development of the country based on which the electorate make informed decisions.
Mr Sarfo Mensah, the Logistics and Information Technology Manager of Rowtel Company Limited, said his choice of who to vote for was predicated on the traditions of the two major political parties and that he did not need a manifesto to make a decision.
At the Agbogbloshie Market, Madam Faustina Adabala said all that she wanted was a party that would promise her better life for herself and her children and that her choice would be based on the party with the most convincing oral plans.
Good governance institutions
Dr Oduro opined that there was no law that obliged political parties to make their manifestoes public within a certain timeline but added that the convention in the Fourth Republic had been that the parties, especially the two leading ones, did provide their manifestoes ahead of the elections, adding that the timing for that had not been consistent, as it ranged between two and three months to elections.
But from a good governance perspective, he said, three months to the elections might be late for the parties to make their manifestoes public for Ghanaians to make informed choices.
He said the situation was not the best for political development, adding that while some might argue that the NDC was already in office and, therefore, did not have anything new to showcase, it was instructive for it to still come up with a manifesto to show the gaps that it left and which it intended to fill.
“I do not buy the claim that someone would steal another’s manifesto ideas. It is childish. Going round and campaigning, with people jubilating over campaign promises, is a manifestation of a contract and it is important that what they promise is well documented,” he said.
Dr Gyampoh was of the view that manifestoes were important accountability mechanisms which, when properly read and understood, could be used to hold leaders to what they said as they went soliciting for the mandate and votes of the citizenry and the electorate.
Dr Manteaw said the situation was not the best for the electorate and added that generally manifestoes did not help majority of the electorate but served as a guide for the decision of floating voters whom he described as the “deciders” in elections.
The acting General Secretary of the NPP, Mr John Boadu, said the party would launch its manifesto based on its own strategy and that the flag bearer of the party, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, and his running mate, Dr Mahamudu Bawumiah, were already propagating the content of the manifesto as they moved around the country.
He said not many people read manifestoes and that the party had planned to unveil its manifesto on August 4, 2016 but the change in the election date had affected its programme.
“Very soon we will come out with a date,” he added.
Till then, he said, Ghanaians should hold the NPP by what its flag bearer and his running mate would say.
The General Secretary of the NDC, Mr Johnson Asiedu Nketiah, during the launch of the party’s campaign in Cape Coast on August 14, 2016, had said the launch of the party’s manifesto would take place two weeks from that day in Sunyani in the Brong Ahafo Region.
From his projection, that date would have been August 28, 2016 but nothing has since happened. Efforts to reach him for further information were not successful.
Mr Kofi Asamoah Siaw, the National Policy Advisor for the Progressive People’s Party (PPP) which unveiled its manifesto in Accra on July 17, 2016, almost six months to the elections, said the decision to unveil its manifesto earlier was born out of respect for the good people of Ghana who the party believed needed ample time to assimilate the progressive policies of the party for the redemption of Ghana from its economic woes.
From Wa, Michael Quaye reports that all 10 interviewees said their political choices were not based on the content of a party’s manifesto.
The interviewees included a nurse, a graduate teacher, a journalist and a student, but despite their statuses as relatively informed persons in society, their opinions were the same as those of a trader, a hair stylist and some other artisans that party manifestoes were of virtually no consequence to the voter population.
Awudu Ibrahim, a businessman, said manifestoes were “mere paperwork of the political season”, insisting that he had voted in the past three elections without knowing whether the parties had manifestoes, let alone knowing the content of those manifestoes.
Prosper Kuorsoh, a trained journalist who holds a degree in Development Communication, said he had not put premium on party manifestoes and that his political decisions were based on the character and orientation of the parties.
“I believe in Ghana we know what the parties stand for; we know their orientations. Those are more important to me than well-dressed manifestoes which are mere window dressings to attract votes,” he said.
A hair stylist, who gave her name only as Linda, said she did not know how to find a party’s manifesto or where to find one and that her decisions were based on the candidates who led the parties.
She said a party’s candidate represented the quality of the party and that an honest, diligent, humble, incorrupt leader was enough to win her vote for a party.
Samuel Duodu reports from Tamale that some residents of Tamale have stated that they will vote based on the manifestoes that the political parties present to them for Election 2016.
According to them, manifestoes form an integral part of elections and also they are the blueprint or documents that spell out the policies and programmes of parties which they would implement when they are elected into office to form the next government.
They added that they were waiting for the political parties to come out with their manifestoes.
Mr Ibrahim Abubakar said he would vote based on the manifestoes that would be presented by the parties and it was his expectation that the manifestoes would tell Ghanaians how the parties would tackle challenges in agriculture, health, education and the economy.
Mr Sulemana Abdul Majeed, who works with the University for Development Studies (UDS), said manifestoes are plans by the political parties to deal with the challenges facing the country.
For his part, Mr Ussif Abdul Shakun, a fashion designer, said manifestoes contain the things that political parties promise to do when they are voted into power.
Some prospective voters in Tema are of the view that political party manifestoes in Ghana do not necessarily influence voting patterns, reports Della Russel Ocloo.
“Who reads manifestoes any way?” Phillip Avorga, a prospective voter, queried.
He told the Daily Graphic that many Ghanaian voters often voted along ethnic or religious lines and that the 2016 elections would be no exception.
A civil servant, Nana Yeboah, said he had inclination towards a particular party and would, therefore, not be influenced by what was contained in a manifesto.
A public relations practitioner, Mr David Young, for his part, said manifestoes serve as tools for the electorate to hold parties and their leaders accountable for what they said they would do.