Election Day in Ghana

by craig on December 7, 2012 2:30 pm in Uncategorized

Today is election day in Ghana, both for President and Parliament. My phone has been hot all day with calls from around that country, and it seems strange to be following from a snowy Ramsgate.

I am in the curious position of being a good personal friend of both the main Presidential candidates, Nana Akuffo Addo and John Mahama. As you can see from the photograph above, they are fairly good friends themselves. I was actually there in Kyebi when that photo was taken a year ago. John was there for the Odwiratuo festival as Vice President, Nana was present as a member of the Akyim royal family, and I was there as a guest of the Okyenhene. In yet another example of the appalling slip in BBC standards, they today report wrongly that Nana is an Ashanti!

Both John and Nana are two of the nicest, best motivated and most “normal” people ever to be involved in high politics. They are both particularly kind individuals. It says something about Ghana that two such pleasant men are contesting for President. By contrast, politics in western countries seems to necessitate a degree of sociopathic ruthlessness that is entirely absent from both men.

I find myself thinking less about who will win, than being concerned for whichever of my friends loses. Ghana’s genuinely democratic elections have all come down right to the wire, and last time there was a tiny majority for the NDC – Nana lost by only about 20,000 votes across the entire country, after being just ahead but below 50% in the first round.

Nana is not getting younger and whether he will get another chance if he does not win this time remains to be seen – though the late President Mills won the last Presidential election after two successive defeats. John Mahama’s position in the NDC is also not automatically secure should he lose, having been promoted from Vice President to President on the demise of President Mills, but having had only a few months to consolidate the affections not just of the Ghanaian people but of his own party.

Whichever of my friends loses cannot therefore be certain of getting another chance in 2012, though I very much hope they will.

I was absolutely appalled by the standards of the Ghanaian media in the last election. There was no debate on policy, but merely unceasing stories about the candidates’ private lives and health. Thankfully this year has been a bit better, with Nana’s promise of free senior high school education breaking new ground in introducing real policy discussion into the election. John’s commendable agreement to participate in the televised debates was also a breakthrough, and the inclusion of the “minor” candidates with full rights in those debates shamed western “democracies”.

One unfortunate feature of modern western democracies has however been reflected in recent Ghanaian politics. The theoretical right/left split between the NPP and NDC appears not to reflect much in real policy difference. I expect the NDC would have done rather better had they tried harder to regain their role as the representative of the poorer sections of society. Rent control is an urgent necessity for the urban poor as property prices boom with oil development, but nobody wants to take on the World Bank over the issue.

We can expect a swing to Mahama in his native north, with probably the NDC holding on to some of 2008′s gains in the West. But the Presidential election will really be decided in the huge urban constituencies of Accra and Tema, with the Ga vote likely to be decisive. Peculiarly the Ga are virtually never mentioned by political commentators.

From 2000 to 2008 Ghana enjoyed a golden period of economic growth under John Kuffour, which propelled them to the front of the first rank of African economies. However pre-election fiscal looseness by the NPP in 2007-2008 coincided with the global economic crash. The NDC inherited a large deficit and debt problem. Kwabena Duffour, the Finance Minister, has done an extremely good job of keeping economic growth going while repairing the budget deficit. Kwabena is worth six of George Osborne any day.

But the deficit remedy medicine did require a reining back of government infrastructure spending, and this will hurt the NDC; Ghanaian voters do like to see something tangible for their money. There was a real sense in which 2008 was a good election to lose, as the winner was constrained from doing popular things.

By contrast, 2012 is a great election to win; as the booming of the economy accelerates towards double figure growth and oil revenue starts to flow through properly. Whoever wins this election will have the opportunity to undertake projects that will make a real mark in Ghanaian development, and ought to be well placed to win a second term.

Ghana will be in extremely good hands in 2013-17 whatever the outcome. I cannot feel either John or Nana deserves to lose, and my thoughts will be with the loser, much as I shall congratulate the winner. Remember, politicans are people, too. If you cut them, do they not bleed?

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32 Comments

  1. Hi there,

    Last night on the parliamentary channel, there was a long special on Président Hollande, analysing clips going back 20 years. One was left with the impression that perhaps, just possibly, he is not a sociopath. The improbability of such an outcome may explain the disorientation currently felt by public and journalists alike as we struggle to get a fix on the individual.

    Cheers

  2. Thanks Simon, a pleasant thought.

  3. If you cut them, do they not bleed?

    No, they get a SpAd to bleed for them.

  4. It sounds very exciting that a country can be led from the front and build something beautful. Good luck, I hope that the country continue to build and work for a succesful prosperous society and the good values they hold they can hold on to, and continue to work for their childrens future in I am sure what is a most beautiful country.

    Nice one.

  5. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-20645838

    Duchess of Cambridge hoax call nurse found dead
    Breaking news

    A nurse at London’s King Edward VII hospital who took a hoax call about the Duchess of Cambridge has been found dead, the BBC understands.

    The hospital, which has paid tribute to “a first class nurse”, named the woman as Jacintha Saldanha.

    Police were called at 09:35 GMT to reports of a woman found unconscious at an address in central London.

    Details of the pregnant Duchess’s medical condition were unwittingly revealed to two Australian DJs.

  6. Oil has been at the root of so much trouble in so many of the places where it is found. Whoever gets elected, I hope that they can use this oil to Ghana’s benefit while avoiding the dangers that accompany possession of something so desired by the corporate system.

    I know little of Ghana’s circumstances, but given the increase of carbon dioxide emissions and the escalating dangers of climate change, it would seem good if Ghana could raise money for not extracting the oil. Ecuador may be having some success with this approach:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/nov/23/yasuni-oil-ground-project

  7. With AFRICOM assuming such a central (if low key) role in latter day US foreign policy, genuine ties of friendship to such senior political figures will put you firmly on the radar of the US the intel agencies (as if you were not firmly their already over torture and other issues).

    In your position, I would be firmly on my guard for ‘offers difficult to refuse’ or other such mana that may surreptitiously emanate from such quarters.

    Thanks for another interesting post.

  8. Anon This is a piece on WSWS about the American media and the royal pregnancy. The British crowd have hardly been any different.

    The American establishment and the British royal pregnancy http://www.wsws.org/articles/2012/dec2012/pers-d07.shtml

    PS It is very sad news about the suicide. I hope she was not hounded by the management and that the ‘Palace’ did not kick off.

  9. Mary,

    Wouldn’t go near that hospital no matter how rich I happened to be. Can’t be trusted to look after their patients. Can’t be trusted to look after their staff. Who might top themselves next time Kate’s admitted? Maybe if they are that pressurised and unstable they’ll just bump her off first as well.

    Badly managed hospital which can’t even clean up its own mess without making it worse.

    However I am very sorry for the nurse involved. It’s the management who should be considering their own futures.

  10. It was the nurse at the reception who put the call through who is dead – not the nurse who actually gave out information. I trust the latter nurse is being sully supported or we might not be finished with the suicides.

  11. Please vote for Bradley Manning. Malala is in the lead needless to say which proves that USUKUIsNATO propaganda does work.

    Who was your person of the year for 2012?

    Malala Yousafzai 45%
    Bradley Manning 33%
    Pussy Riot 7%
    Danny Boyle 10%
    Fabiola Gianotti 2%
    Nate Silver 3%

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/blog/poll/2012/dec/07/person-of-the-year-2012-vote?fb=native

  12. You wouldn’t catch me in any private hospital Anon. My best friend was a ward sister at another very well known London private hospital. Apart from the fact that it kept changing hands, the patients were mostly rich Arabs from oil states and celebs drying out or with other addiction problems. It always felt more like a 5* hotel than a hospital. Lavish flower arrangements everywhere and suites with waitresses serving the food and drink. Give me a good old NHS district general hospital any day while they are still around.

    Today I see that Grayling has suggested that Epsom General is privatised like Hinchingbrooke under Circle Health. We will soon be saying RIP NHS.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-20640962

    Little does he know that Circle are in the soup with Hinchingbrooke.
    {http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/9661421/Circle-2m-behind-in-plan-to-save-Hinchingbrooke-Hospital.html} and the board have deselected Ali Parsa as CEO. {http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cambridgeshire-20595474} LOL

  13. You’re sunning it in Ghana and the poor Bishop of Ho, preached last Sunday in my church at Small Heath. Lovely man.

  14. I expect the nurse was being hounded by the press.

  15. The owners of the radio station, 2DayFM, are Austereo, now 90% owned by Southern Cross Radio. 2DayFN have been in trouble before. ACMA must be the Aussie equivalent of OFCOM.

    http://www.southerncrossaustereo.com.au/docs/acma-press-release.pdf

    {http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Austereo)

    It’s all about ratings obviously.

  16. s/be Southern Media not Radio.

    I should imagine that this is a lawyers’ paradise dealing with all these takeovers and disposals. Almost feel grateful for BBC Radio 4 reading about all this garbage.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southern_Cross_Austereo

    I see the name of Macquairie in the text. Big global players. Don’t know what else they own in the UK but I know that they acquired Thames Water for £8bn in 2006.

    {http://www.macquarie.co.uk/mgl/uk/global-expertise}

  17. doug scorgie

    7 Dec, 2012 - 9:56 pm

    Mary: 7th Dec 2012. 4:24pm

    “I hope she was not hounded by the management and that the ‘Palace’ did not kick off.”

    I worked in the NHS for 20 years. Jacintha Saldanha will undoubtedly have been hounded by the management from the most senior level down to her line manager.
    This is par for the course in an organisation rife with incompetent status chasing wannabe’s who owe their positions to who they know rather than what they know.

    Wait for official reports that the nurse “had problems” prior to the hoax call.

  18. Doug It is a private hospitsl but I guess she got a dressing down.

    ~~~~

    Here Mr Misick has his collar felt. Some satisfaction for the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands and to Courtenay Barnett too I imagine.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-20648357

  19. Larry's back!

    8 Dec, 2012 - 1:42 am

    Just came back to this blog after being away from some time, and I find that you’re all still quite crazy. In five minutes, I found Craig praising the 911 truthers and inventing his own conspiracy fiction about Assange. What failures you are.

  20. You’ve been away for some time but you’ve chosen to return to a place where everybody’s crazy failures.
    And you admit it.
    Hmmm.
    OK.

  21. @ Larry’s Back…

    Do us all a favour and fuck off Larry,we were bored of you 2 years or so back..

    Go away fuckhead.

    Thankees,sirrah.

  22. Re Nurse, alleged suicide.

    Once again, the UK media have killed an innocent. I’m glad to see there are intelligent people (but only here, it seems) who understand that the nurse who is reported to have taken her life was probably bullied by management for their own failures to properly manage communications with their celebrity patients – and, of course, the fake media outrage that drove this incomprehensibly hysterical overreaction. Even Charles saw the light side.

    The BBC stated that the nurse “.. was recently the victim of a hoax call to the hospital.” as if a harmless prank call is equivalent to a vicious attack. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-20645838

    The news here in Oz is that the DJ’s are personally responsible for this woman’s death and reader comments are scathing. It seems like it doesn’t take much to whip people into a frenzy of hatred.

  23. Was the revenue at KEVII insufficient to allow for the employment of a night porter or a telephonist. That is normal in most hospitals. Also what were the Met protection officers doing at the time of the call? Asleep? They should have intercepted all calls to the room.

    From observation of their colleagues’ performance at the trial of David Lawley Wakelin who interrupted Bliar at the Leveson inquiry, I would not see them winning Mastermind. They (an inspector and a sergeant} were both very sheepish about their obvious lapse in leaving security wide open so that Mr Lawley Wakelin could just walk in through a side door!

    The \Australian radio station’s lawyers sanctioned the release of the recording which was not transmitted live.

    ‘Mrs Saldanha, also known as Jess, is thought to have come to the UK from southern India more than ten years ago and settled in the UK with her partner, 49-year-old hospital accountant Benedict Barboza.

    The couple bought their £123,000 three-bedroomed home in 2005 in the Westbury-on-Trym district of Bristol.

    After working for the North Bristol NHS Trust, which runs Frenchay and Southmead hospitals, it is believed the nurse chose to apply for a job at King Edward four years ago and appears to have been living in the nursing accommodation ever since.

    She has a son called Junal, 16, and daughter, believed to be 14. She stayed in London when she was working before returning to her family on days off.’

    Not much of a life for the poor woman. RIP Jacintha.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2244608/Jacintha-Saldanha-Familys-grief-suicide-nurse-transferred-DJs-hoax-Kate-Middleton-hospital-call.html#ixzz2ERsRb8uR

  24. Bossman. He should go.

    Executive Profile Rhys Holleran

    Chief Executive Officer and Chief Executive Officer of MSCM, Southern Cross Media Group Limited –

    Salary A$1,302,005 as of Fiscal Year 2012

    Background
    Mr. Rhys Holleran has been Chief Executive Officer for Southern Cross Media Group since December 2009. Mr. Holleran serves as Chief Executive Officer of Macquarie Southern Cross Media Pty Ltd. (also known as Macquarie Regional Radioworks Pty Ltd. and MSCM). He has been a Director of Austereo Group Limited (AEO) since April 7, 2011.

    http://investing.businessweek.com/research/stocks/people/people.asp?ticker=SXL:AU

  25. Jemand, I agree with you. Most women suffer from morning sickness but the Duchess of Lancaster’s is ‘news’. That poor woman, Jacintha, probably believed that the Royals are more important than the rest of us. Like Mary says the media message works. So vote for Bradley Manning.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/blog/poll/2012/dec/07/person-of-the-year-2012-vote?fb=native

  26. Who was your person of the year for 2012?

    I voted, and then put the call out on Twitter for Bradley. Glad to say the results now reading as follows:

    28% Malala Yousafzai
    59% Bradley Manning
    4% Pussy Riot
    6% Danny Boyle
    1% Fabiola Gianotti
    2% Nate Silver

    Poll closes in 14 hours

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/blog/poll/2012/dec/07/person-of-the-year-2012-vote?fb=native

  27. Bradley Manning is now 59% so keep voting.

  28. Jay said:

    “It sounds very exciting that a country can be led from the front and build something beautful. Good luck, I hope that the country continue to build and work for a succesful prosperous society and the good values they hold they can hold on to, and continue to work for their childrens future in I am sure what is a most beautiful country.”

    I echo these sentiments. Something positive to wake up to on a sunny Saturday morning. Please keep banging your drum, Craig. This is my first stop for news on a daily basis.

    Steve

  29. Larry schmarry …

    Bradley Manning now at 60%

    Keep it up, readers!
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/blog/poll/2012/dec/07/person-of-the-year-2012-vote

  30. Regarding the death of the nurse …. I would lay the majority of the blame at the feet of our media.
    The Ozzie DJs were just having a laugh, playing a prank. No harm intended, except possibly to regal pomposity. No-one could have foreseen these consequences. I have a lot of sympathy for them and they’re going to need it.
    The ones who turned this into a front page story, literally, are our sanctimonious media – leading every bulletin with it and running vox pop phone-ins on the subject, bombarding the hospital for comment and endlessly replaying the phone recording.
    Let’s see if in the weeks ahead they accept some responsibility for what they’ve caused, or will they rather let the story slip away, giving the poor nurse some peace in death that they didn’t give her in life.

  31. Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    8 Dec, 2012 - 3:44 pm

    It’s a very different IAEA……..

    “Amano sits in a a position of high tension. He must deal with the Wikileaks disclosures showing that he is much more aligned with the US than his predecessor, Mohamed ElBaradei”

    http://www.emptywheel.net/2012/12/07/warrick-selectively-edits-amano-remarks-to-cfr/

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