NDC supporters besiege EC offices during 2008 elections
“Ghana which has enjoyed stability for a long time is on the verge of sacrificing this feat due to the weakness in its structures. But the single most significant threat to this stability will be the 2012 elections.”
This was contained in a report published by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, a US based think tank. The report examined the risks of instability in 10 African countries over the next 10 years.
But, Asare “Gabby” Otchere-Darko, Executive Director of the Danquah Institute, believes the nation rather has an excellent opportunity to reduce electoral violence in 2012, with the introduction of biometric registration and verification.
The CSIS report mentions the two main political parties in the country, NPP and NDC, as having “a faceoff with each other”, warning that “a contested election is possible” in 2012.
The report notes further that the stakes in the 2012 election remains very high in view of the desire by each of the main political parties to have control over the nation's new-found oil wealth, especially during the peak of production.
The report concludes that the two main parties, through their leaders especially, will be key factors in deciding a free and fair elections, urging them to “tolerate the views of each other” to save the nation from a possible electoral violence.
The report notes that even though Ghana has served as a beacon of hope for the rest of Africa through its good governance, entrenched democratic norms, as well as an active civil society, the success story faces serious danger “due to massive unemployment.”
The US based think tank fears that with the massive unemployment, especially among the youth who are often exploited by politicians, the weak structures in the economy which encourage corruption, and also fuel ethnic rivalries, electoral violence could be expected “if the losing side fails to recognize the results.”
But, Asare “Gabby” Otchere-Darko, Executive Director of the Danquah Institute, believes even though the stakes in the 2012 elections are higher, “it is not necessarily true that the chances for violence in the 2012 elections is higher than in the 2008 elections.”
Mr Otchere-Darko explained to the New Statesman yesterday that “the posture of the opposition today is not different from the posture of the opposition in 2008.”
The DI boss added: “What is better is the significant enhancement of the electoral process with the introduction of the biometric registration and verification. If this is implemented well, there will be a great opportunity to reduce violence.”
The report paints a gloomy picture about the nation's future prospects in the agricultural sector, which it says has not received the required attention from the government.
The think tank acknowledges the fact that Ghana's economy is on the brink of economic change, with oil poised to replace cocoa as the main driver of economic growth.
“Interestingly cocoa reached an all time high of 75,000 tons in 2009-2010. But this promising trends looks to be a nine day wonder as soil fertility is declining and the cocoa sector is failing to attract new farmers,” the reports notes.
It offers the reason for the negative development: “The reason for this is that the Government has failed to implement the necessary innovations for long term competiveness. The industry has made little effort to invest in high yield varieties or the infrastructure that will allow Ghana to process its own beans. Unless these systematic weaknesses are addressed, the country's cocoa industry is likely to find itself mired in a long term decline in the decades to come.”
On the structural weaknesses in the governance system, the report identified the too much power granted the president as a problem, stressing, that he “has been handed so much power to appoint and disappoint; he alone directly appoints 4,050 individuals, including the executive officers of the 110 districts assemblies. Due to this, there are enormous dismissals of civil servants anytime government changes hands which disrupt the smooth running of the state machinery.”
The reports again noted that Parliament lacks the will to provide effective oversight of the executive and a vibrant committee system which will be authorized to introduce financial laws, adding, “the benefits that parliamentarians get from the presidency make it difficult for them to closely scrutinize the president's agenda.”
On the judiciary the report noted that though the third arm of government is free from political control, “the two main parties complain of the other party trying to influence the courts when they are in opposition.”