The Ghana Integrity Initiative Coalition has expressed its worry that the emerging trend of ‘Vote Selling’, if not addressed, could erode the moral and ethical fibre of the society.
The Coalition, made up of four civil society organisations - the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC) and Citizen’s Movement against Corruption (CMaC) - presented the first report of a monitoring exercise.
Under the theme, “Promoting a More Level Political Playing Field: Reducing Abuse of Incumbency and Electoral Corruption in Ghana’s Election 2016”project, it was funded by Star Ghana.
Mr Edem K. Senanu, the Co-chair of the Citizen’s Movement against Corruption, said the Coalition’s observers, who were deployed as part of the project in 20 selected constituencies, observed the trend in these areas.
These included communities in the Ho Municipality, where citizens took to the streets with placards with inscriptions of “No electricity, no vote”” as well as in the Bosomtwe District of the Ashanti Region, where residents of Abuontem demanded the construction of the roads before they voted.
He described the practice, especially in the electioneering as ‘Vote selling” and called for urgent action to address it. The report, covering June 1st to August 30, 2016, found incidences of electoral corruption, including vote buying by political parties.
It described vote buying as the act of offering inducements to a voter by a party, candidate or candidate’s agent, with a clear intention of harvesting the recipients’ votes. Mr. Senanu noted that vote buying was a form of electoral corruption, and included offering voters money, food and other items, provision of medicine or pharmaceutical equipment, and providing services.
The findings from the project cited Dr. Francis Dakurah, the NDC Parliamentary Candidate for Jirapa, who was captured distributing two cedi notes to people to campaign for votes. He criticised the distribution of outboard motors to fisher folk in Sekondi during the President’s Campaign tour and the indication by the NDC’s campaign spokesperson that the distribution was part of an on-going Government intervention, saying it was unfortunate and showed some abuse of incumbency.
He said the report, which covered 1st June to August 30, also included media monitoring of selected state media organisations and revealed that information provided by state media outlets was generally biased.
“The NDC and NPP were both given more airtime and space in the print media than all the other political parties although the NDC received relatively a high media presence than the NPP,” the report said. The media monitoring involved the Daily Graphic, Ghanaian Times, Spectator, Mirror, GTV, and Unique FM and looked at the frequency of physical appearance, radio mentions, number of stories, coverage time, size and space allotted, and standard area index.
These showed that these media were not ensuring fair opportunity and equal access to state media for all political parties as required by the law in Act 55 (12) of the 1992 Constitution.
They urged the public to speak up against such activities of abuse of incumbency and electoral corruption as they undermined the free and fair competition for political power.