President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and his predecessor and opponent, John Dramani Mahama have been accused of engaging in vote buying and campaigning during the Coronavirus period.
A political marketing strategist, Dr Kobby Mensah argued that the duo have been using COVID-19-related activities to front their campaigns in the full glare of the Electoral Commission without any repercussions.
He noted that the institution mandated to provide reliefs to victims during the global pandemic is the National Disaster Management Organisation but that has not been the case as the situation has been hijacked by politicians who would take the least opportunity to put out their campaign messages.
“If we think that the pollical parties are not campaigning, why don’t we have NADMO at the forefront helping those who are actually in distress or negatively affected by COVID and making sure that they’re getting reliefs in terms of food… but we see political parties at the forefront of distributing these reliefs to the people. That tells you that they are campaigning.
“Nobody can convince me that these two parties are not campaigning…. And for me I’ll even go to the extent that they’re actually buying votes. Because what do we see in vote-buying, we see vote-buying as political parties throwing goodies to the people in order that they can actually influence them,” Dr Mensah maintained.
He lamented that the electoral body which he described as one of the ‘weakest’ institutions were to blame.
“I put the blame squarely at the doorstep of the EC because they have been very laid back, they’ve been slow in responding when it comes to the issue of political campaigning.
“You look at our EC for example, they do not have any guidelines regarding political campaigning on social media, for example, …so when we see campaigning, they [the EC] can’t see one. They have no clue whether the party is campaigning or what…
“…The EC has failed to actually put political parties on the line of respecting the rules of engagement and making sure that whoever flouts the rules of engagement is dealt with…” he added.
Dr. Kobby Mensah’s comments come on the back of the President’s eighth address on the update of Ghana’s COVID-19situation which has been widely criticised for containing statements that should have been made on a campaign platform.
Dr Kobby agrees that the President’s address to the nation could easily pass for a campaign message, albeit, some important pronouncements on the national anti-COVID-19 strategy.
“I didn’t see the President campaigning yesterday [Sunday]. I saw the President campaigning all through his addresses,” he said on JoyNews’ PM Express, Monday evening.
In his view, in the absence of a firm regulatory framework to keep the parties in check with regards to campaigning, they cannot be blamed since it is an election year.
Responding to him, however, former Health Minister under the Mahama administration, Alex Segbefia argued that there’s a thin line between being patriotic and campaigning, citing the NDC flagbearer’s actions in donating some materials to vulnerable and adversely affected homes as reflecting patriotism.
He explained that it was different with regards to President Akufo-Addo’s since he is the person who yields all the power in the country and thus sets the example for others to follow.
Opening the door to campaigning on a national platform meant to address a crisis, rather gave the green light to other political parties to do same he said.