Some electorate in Sunyani have proposed that political parties must be given a deadline to present their manifestoes to the electorate in an election year.
So far, only the Progressive People’s Party (PPP) has come out with its 10-point national agenda, while the Independent People’s Party (IPP) and the United People’s Party (UPP) have launched and released the soft copies of their manifestoes.
The two leading parties — the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) — seem to be playing a ‘wait-and-see game’, while the Convention People’s Party (CPP), the People’s National Convention (PNC) and the National Democratic Party (NDP) are yet to come out with their manifestoes.
Others, such as the Great Consolidated Popular Party (GCPP), the Ghana Freedom Party (GFP), among the 26 registered parties, are yet to unveil theirs.
The proponents were randomly spoken to by the Daily Graphic on the sidelines of a town hall meeting organised by the Graphic Communications Group Limited (GCGL) in Sunyani in the Brong Ahafo Region last Wednesday.
They included the Regional Officer of the Teachers and Educational Workers Union (TEWU) of the Ghana Trades Union Congress (TUC), Mr Abeabu Mathew Aberenya; the Nkoranza North District Director of the Electoral Commission (EC), Mr Rudolph Chireh; the Wenchi District Director of the EC, Mr Edward Gyamfi, and the Assistant Regional Director of the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), Mr Ohene Ameyaw Domfeh.
Others were the Dean of the School of Natural Resources of the University of Energy and Natural Resources, Dr Oheneba Akyeampong, and the Regional Director of the Statistical Service, Mr Amatus Nobabumah.
They shared their perspectives on the importance or otherwise of political party manifestoes in an election year and why manifestoes were not out yet when the 2016 polls were just a few months away.
Currently, the law guiding and regulating the conduct of political parties is silent on manifestoes. The law generally talks about requirements for the formation of a political party.
But, in Mr Aberenya’s view, “even if the law is silent on the issue, it is a moral obligation and proper for the parties to present their manifestoes early for the electorate to digest and ask the hows and whys to make informed decisions and choices”.
He said the parties were making it difficult for the electorate to make a fair decision.
“They are delaying the decision-making process and that is detrimental because an ill-informed electorate may make wrong decisions and choices,” he said.
Nonetheless, he said the TUC was interested in a political party that would serve the interest of the working population.
Dr Akyeampong said it looked as if the parties were playing the ‘waiting game’ which did not bode well for good governance practices.
He cautioned the parties not to take the electorate for a ride.
He contended that while the parties had not breached any law, they ought to be aware that some electorate critically assessed manifestoes and also judged the performance of governments on their manifestoes.
“I am surprised that with 96 days to elections most of the parties have not released their manifestoes. I suggest they should come out, rather than be compelled to do so through legislation,” he said.
Mr Nobabumah, for his part, contended that much as the situation was bad, it constituted a failure on the part of the electorate as well.
“Do we as a people attach any importance to manifestoes?” he queried, and further contended that the situation had arisen because the electorate had, in the past, not attached importance to the otherwise very important document.
Mr Chireh and Mr Gyamfi were of the view that manifestoes were an important tool for the parties because that was what told the electorate the direction in which the parties would take the country when given the nod to govern.
Mr Domfeh advised political parties to live up to expectation and work to deepen and consolidate multi-party democracy, as well as the growth and development of the nation.
He also called on them to ensure that the electorate was well informed to help engender good democratic practices.