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Ghana’s Chief Decries Vote Buying in Politics

Nana Kobena Nketsiah V urges politicians to trade ideas, not money, ahead of 2024 elections

by Victor Adetimilehin

A prominent traditional leader in Ghana has condemned the practice of vote buying by politicians, calling it a “disgusting act” that undermines democracy and development.

Nana Kobena Nketsiah V, the Paramount Chief of the Essikado Traditional area, made the remarks when he received a visit from Charles Bissue, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) parliamentary candidate for the Essikado Constituency.

Bissue, a former presidential staffer, had gone to thank the chief for his blessings and support in his bid to contest the seat in the 2024 general elections.

The chief, however, expressed his disappointment with the current state of Ghanaian politics, where money and material gifts are used to influence voters instead of party philosophies and ideas.

“Instead of trading party philosophies and ideas and what can be done to continuously improve the nation Ghana, slavery in politicking is what is ruling the day. It is a very serious early warning sign for all well-meaning stakeholders to as a matter of urgency, nib this disgusting practice in the bud,” he said.

He lamented that truth and integrity, among other social virtues, were gradually being eroded in the social fiber of Ghanaian politics.

“Why should politicians be given fridges, televisions, lands, and huge sums of money to convince people to vote for them when the same money can be channeled into community development to bring social and economic relief to the very people you think need the TVs and the money?” he asked.

The chief advised Bissue to stay focused and keep up his integrity, adding that he should respect everyone, especially women, and be a leader for the whole community, not just his party, if he wins the election.

Bissue thanked the chief for his support and counsel and pledged to conduct a clean campaign based on honesty, truth, and consistency.

Vote buying: a threat to democracy

The issue of vote buying in Ghanaian elections is not new, but it has become more rampant and brazen in recent years, especially during party primaries and general elections.

According to the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), vote buying is a form of political corruption that violates the principles of free and fair elections, and undermines the credibility and legitimacy of the electoral process.

It also distorts the will of the people, erodes public trust in democracy, and encourages bad governance and underdevelopment.

The NCCE has warned that vote buying is a threat to democracy and urged citizens to resist any attempts to buy their votes with money or gifts.

The commission has also called on political parties and candidates to desist from the practice and focus on issues that affect the lives of the people.

The Electoral Commission (EC), the body responsible for conducting elections in Ghana, has also expressed concern over the phenomenon and vowed to sanction any electoral offenses.

The EC has urged the public to report any cases of vote buying to the police or the commission for investigation and prosecution.

The special prosecutor on corruption, Martin Amidu, has declared six people wanted for their alleged involvement in vote buying during the NPP primaries in December 2023.

One of them is a former deputy minister of energy, who is accused of distributing cash to delegates on the eve of the election.

The special prosecutor has appealed to the public to assist in the arrest and prosecution of the suspects.

A call for change

As Ghana prepares for the 2024 general elections, many civil society groups, media organizations, and religious bodies have joined the campaign against vote buying and called for a change in the political culture.

They have also challenged political parties and candidates to engage in issue-based campaigns and present their manifestos and visions to the electorate.

They have further appealed to the security agencies, the judiciary, and the electoral management bodies to ensure that the elections are free, fair, and credible and that any violations of the electoral laws are dealt with swiftly and decisively.

Some analysts have also suggested that electoral reforms, such as the introduction of electronic voting, the regulation of campaign financing, and the strengthening of civic education, could help curb the menace of vote buying and enhance the quality of democracy in Ghana.

Source: Modern Ghana 

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