General News of Tuesday, 23 June 2015
Ghanaians will be badly disillusioned to think that the current economic difficulties confronting the country, which has resulted in untold hardship for the masses, could be addressed before the end of the second term of the current National Democratic Congress administration, now under the leadership of President John Dramani Mahama.
According to the latest, June 2015, Country Report of the Economist Intelligence Unit, “The president, John Mahama, has endured a torrid time in office, presiding over severe economic under-performance.”
The Report sees “the discontent at the rate of improvement in living standards”, as “the main threat” to the governing NDC which “will be a key election issue in 2016 and could cost the NDC power.”
The report, sighted by the New Statesman, is categorical in its assertion that the “severe economic under-performance” of the six-and-half-year old NDC government “has left many Ghanaians deeply unhappy with the situation.”
The severity of President Mahama’s economic under-performance, coupled with the extreme hopelessness of the country’s current situation, is what compelled the NDC administration to go for a bail-out from the International Monetary Fund, in a desperate attempt to rescue the ailing economy before the next elections.
But, as to whether or not the suffering Ghanaian can have any iota of hope for better times under the Mahama administration, this is the position of the EIU: “There is little time for Mr. Mahama and the NDC to turn the economy around before the December 2016 presidential and legislative elections.”
According to the Report, edited by Philip Walker, the Economist Intelligence Unit is therefore convinced that the 2016 presidential and parliamentary elections will be won by Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and the New Patriotic Party.
“The outcome of the elections is by no means a foregone conclusion, however, with the results likely to be close. The NPP will need to work hard to attract votes from outside its heartlands in central Ghana while maintaining internal unity. The recent case of an NPP regional chairman being murdered has lifted the lid on a number of lurking frictions in the party, in particular over its selection of candidates for the legislative election. Meanwhile, the NDC will continue to enjoy strong support in the east and north of the country, owing to historical and tribal allegiances,” adds the Report.
According to the EIU, in the run-up to the next election, “Much focus will be on the Electoral Commission and how it learns lessons from the mistakes made at the 2012 elections.”
It adds: “Its new leader will be selected in mid-2015 and the appointment is unlikely to keep all sides happy. How he or she handles the electoral reform process will be a source of tension in the lead up to the polls. A close vote and a potential change in leadership will increase tension, which could cause some isolated unrest, but we do not think Ghana’s reputation as a stable democracy is at stake.”
The main threat to Ghana’s stability, according to the Report, is the “growing local disillusionment with the deteriorating economic situation” and adds that “slower growth, electricity and fuel shortages, high inflation, and currency depreciation will have a negative impact on living standards, particularly among the increasing vocal middle classes.”
The EIU foresees “further street protests, like those seen in February and May, against the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government’s management of the country…when the economy is at its weakest.”
The Report envisages that “The opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) will attempt to act as a focus for unhappy Ghanaians to rally around, knowing that attacking the government’s economic record represents its best chance of taking power at the elections due in late 2016.”
The fear of the EIU is that “this will exacerbate political tensions and could see isolated violence between rival supporters. In extreme cases, public anger can snowball into mass action, as seen in a number of Arab countries in recent years and, closer to home, in neighbouring Burkina Faso in 2014. Such level of instability is unlikely in Ghana, where democracy in much more firmly established…The positive example set by Nigeria in its recent elections, in which an incumbent president was peacefully voted out of office for the first time, is also likely to bolster local confidence in bringing about change at the ballot box rather than on the streets.”