Published in “Public Agenda” on July 9,2012
Author(s): Frederick Asiamah and Kayla Albrecht
The secretariat of the Strengthening Transparency, Accountability and Responsiveness in Ghana (STAR-Ghana) funding mechanism says it has so far disbursed a total of $5.4 million to support various initiatives that improve transparency and accountability in the management of public resources in Ghana.
According to Amidu Ibrahim Tanko, STAR-Ghana Programme Manager, $4.8 million of the amount has been disbursed among 45 civil society organisations (CSOs) with another $500,000 going to eight media organisations.
Four key international organisations: the UKAid, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) and the European Union contribute to the multi-donor pooled funding mechanism.
A total of 53 organisations have so far benefitted from the funding mechanism to work towards the goal of increasing transparency and responsibility of government, traditional authorities and private enterprises to Ghanaian citizens.
On July 4 and 5, 2012, the beneficiaries (called grant partners) converged in Accra for a two-day “Elections Semi-Annual Convention,” which was hosted by STAR-Ghana. The conference engaged its attendees in topic-specific presentations and small-group discussions, offering a starting point to collect the experiences of the CSOs and non-state actors that were present.
The convention was conducted in two stages. The first stage aimed to discuss what was working with CSO involvement in the electoral process and what was not while the second stage picked participants’ minds on which of the issues discovered could be addressed and ways to address them.
The conference was particularly for the 51 of the 53 grant partners who secured grants to run various elections related programmes to share and learn experiences to guide a holistic CSO involvement in Ghana’s push for another violent-free and fair election in December 2012.
Issues covered by the grantees are on five main topic areas, namely: role of the media in elections; issue-based campaigns and influencing manifestos; state accountability and electoral monitoring; promoting political participation; and mediation and conflict resolution.
Prof Akilagpa Sawyer, chairperson of the STAR-Ghana Steering Committee, said the special elections grants were to foster a paradigm shift from personality politics to issue-based discussions before and during the elections.
He stressed that it is important to demand that politicians participate in discussions with their electorates.
Addressing the opening of the convention, Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, Chairman of the Electoral Commission (EC), called for civil society participation in every stage of the electoral process. He urged particularly that when the EC announces the exhibition of the provisional voters’ register, CSOs should get involved in the education of citizens to facilitate the sanitisation of the register.
On behalf of the donors, Ambassador Claude Maertene, Head of the EU Delegation in Ghana, described Ghana as “a democratic star” thus it is very important that these upcoming elections are a success.
He said it was Ghana’s responsibility to surpass all other elections in quality, and the work of STAR-Ghana can be a shot in the arm for guaranteeing that.
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