Divisions and Multiplying Issues

As the Ghanaian presidential election edges ever closer on the calendar, everyone is wondering what will happen. By all accounts, the voting will be a lot closer than is expected in the American presidential elections which will also take place at the end of this year.

But, there will certainly be a few surprises along the way. Perhaps they’ve started already with the sentencing of Salifu Maase, a presenter on Montie FM, and two panellists were convicted of contempt for on-air threats directed at Supreme Court judges.

You may remember that the Supreme Court ordered that anyone who registered to vote using health care cards must be removed from the lists. The reason? You don’t need to be Ghanaian to have such a card, and there was plenty of evidence that foreigners were included on the voting register.

The convicted were sentenced to four months of jail time and a fine of 10,000 cedis.

And then their sentences were cut short by President John Mahama.

Does it sound like he’s forgiven those who are seemingly in his court? Possibly. Does he think it will garner him additional, free marketing? It already has.

Regardless of the actions of the accused or the sentencing, a presidential pardon is going to make news no matter how you dice it – and it is going to (usually) shine a positive light on the person in office.

Of course, President Mahama didn’t waste any time in claiming that a win for Nana Akufo Addo and the New Patriotic Party would signal the complete downfall of the Ghanaian democracy. He claims the party is too divided, and Akufo Addo is akin to a dictator that can’t handle dissent.

While every party experiences problems in an election year (have you seen the Republican bickering in the United States), it’s difficult to discern just how much division there is and whether the means to control it are appropriate.

But that’s up to the voters to decide. And hopefully, the process will become easier over the next few years. Ghana has plenty of voting reforms to make and when they will happen is just about anyone’s guess. At the moment, the country still isn’t ready for electronic voting – though it shouldn’t be that far off.

The whole question began, however, when the Supreme Court took steps to prevent non-citizens from getting a say at the polls.

That’s been happening a lot lately. Remember when Chinese miners were deported because non-Ghanaians don’t have the right to artisanal, independent mining? Given the stress this endeavour places on the environment, there are reasons to limit it to the people the government has to care for – its own.

Sure, everyone trembled in fear that economic ties to China would suffer tremendously as a result of this move. And yet, bilateral trade between the two nations continues to grow. It’s all how you look at the math and who’s turn it is to divide and multiply. In an election year, however, taking turns it hard to do.

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