General News of Wednesday, 17 August 2016
Anti-corruption group, Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII) says the distribution of outboard motors to fishermen by President John Mahama in the Western Region is worse than vote buying.
It is akin to abuse of office, Executive Director of GII, Linda Ofori Kwafo told Joy FM’s Francis Abban, Wednesday.
This comes as President Mahama began his campaign tour of the Western Region with a gleeful distribution of outboard motors to some fisher folks.
At a durbar with the fishermen in Sekondi, the president did not miss the opportunity to distribute the outboard motors to help improve their working conditions.
Spokesperson of the NDC Campaign, Joyce Bawa Mogtari told Super Morning Show host Kojo Yankson the outboard motors are part of a government intervention and not intended to buy votes.
She said the outboard motors were purchased with state funds and distributed by the president who was performing his duties as a president and not as a candidate..
“It is something we have been engaged in for quite some time. The president has made these donations across the country specifically targeting fishing communities across Ghana.”
But this is raising the eyebrows of GII.
Executive Director of GII, Linda Ofori Kwafo said the move is “actually more than vote buying.”
She said if the items were bought with state resources and they are being distributed on a campaign trail then it amounts to abuse of incumbency.
“We have two aspects of abuse of incumbency; coercive abuse and corrupt abuse and corrupt abuse, is using state resources to fuel or fund such activities.
“If the president told the whole nation that he is embarking on a campaign, then how on earth is the party using state resources to buy such gifts which the woman referred to as donations,” she queried.
Mrs Kwafo said regardless of the clarification by Mrs Mogtari the president presented the items in his capacity as president, and that has the potential to confuse the electorates due to the time in which the donations are being made.
“If they are receiving them at this time then it means you are using state resources to buy votes and we don’t do that. If you do that you don’t create a level playing field in an election and it is not going to amount to free and fair elections,” she added.
The president should be able to draw a line between his official duties and his duty as presidential candidate “because your opponents will not be able to get the same resources.”