General News of Sunday, 21 August 2016
Deputy Education Minister, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa has confessed all political parties are guilty of vote buying.
He said the governing National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) are both guilty of the offence.
A survey conducted by the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), found that all the political parties in Ghana are engaged in vote buying.
The governing NDC was cited as the most guilty with 51% percent of the respondents identifying the party as buying votes.
The opposition NPP followed with 32% of the respondents identifying it as buying votes whilst the Convention People’s Party (CPP) and Progressive People’s Party (PPP) tie at four percent.
Before the survey results were made public, the NPP had held a press conference accusing President John Mahama of abusing incumbency.
Acting General Secretary, John Boadu told the press the President was distributing outboard motors and head pans procured with state funds to fisherfolk in the Western Region as part of his campaign.
He also raised issues with charity work being done by First Lady, Lordina Mahama.
The NDC parried the criticisms by pointing to similar donations by Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo, wife of NPP flagbearer Nana Akufo-Addo.
Various provisions of the Representation of the People Law, 1992 makes vote buying a criminal offence.
Section 33 of the law, titled, Bribery, says: (1) A person commits the offence of bribery—
(a) if he directly or acting through another person—
(i) gives money or obtains an office for a voter in order to induce the voter to vote or refrain from voting; or
(ii) corruptly does such an act on account of a voter having voted or refrained from voting; or
(iii) makes a gift or provides something of value to a voter to induce the voter to vote in a certain way or to obtain the election of a candidate; or
(b) if he advances or pays money or causes money to be paid to or for the use of a person with the intent that the money or part of it shall be expended in bribery at an election, or knowingly pays money or causes money to be paid to a person in discharge or repayment of money wholly or in part expended in bribery at an election; or
(c) if before or during an election he directly or indirectly, by himself or through another person acting on his behalf, receives, agrees or contracts for money, gift, a loan or valuable consideration or an office, place or employment for himself or for another person for voting or agreeing to vote or for refraining or agreeing to refrain from voting;
Discussing the CDD’s survey results on Joy FM/MultiTV’s news analysis show, Newsfile, Mr. Ablakwa who is part of the NDC’s campaign communications team, said, “I’m a believer in improving systems; we ought to work towards perfection; I do not believe playing the ostrich and scoring cheap point.”
“Which political party in Ghana,” he asked, “doesn’t distribute free T-shirts free of charge”?
Commenting on the NPP’s accusations about abuse of incumbency, he said the distribution of outboard motors to fishermen was done as part of the president’s officials duties.
When he was reminded that the president was wearing party shirt and that some of the recipients were clad in NDC colours, he said it was immaterial.
“We can’t stop our party people from wearing party T-shirts to public events,” he stressed.
Contributing to the discussion, Shaykh Mustapha Abdul Hamid, the Spokesperson for NPP flagbearer, Nana Akufo-Addo, said the abuse of incumbency by president Mahama was palpable it was inescapable.
He said a president who distributes items to voters during an advertised campaign tour cannot convince anyone that he was performing official functions.
He argued that branding the items in NDC colours made even vulgar.
If the president was minded, he could have allowed the Fisheries Minister to distribute the items, Mustapha Hamid maintained.