Ghana and the United States are both in the midst of a heated election season. I start work every day by reading the newspaper, and it’s filled with articles regarding the presidential race. It’s interesting to see how the elections here are both similar to and different from the campaign trail back home.
I’ve started to conduct a list of reoccurring issues and concerns that are most prevalent in the media. Here are some of the trepidations that I’ve noticed:
Social Media Ban
There have been many animated conversations in the office regarding a proposed social media ban while votes are being cast. The Inspector General of the Police previously announced that his team was considering shutting down social media services on Dec. 7, which is the day of the elections. The police argue that this will promote peace. Many citizens and organizations are outraged by this proposal, which they say is a breach of their freedom put forth by the constitution of Ghana.
Re-registration to Vote
Another issue is that the Ghanaians who registered to vote with National Health Insurance (NHIS) cards were removed from the electoral roll, because Parliament did not view the NHIS cards as a proper identification method. People fear that is not enough time to get everyone to re-register to vote. Critics are accusing the National Democratic Congress (NDC), the current government, of deliberating removing people from the list.
When I asked my coworker what he is concerned about, he said that he’s worried that the Electoral Commission (EC) won’t conduct fair elections. The Chair of the EC, Mrs. Charlotte Osei, is a supporter of the NDC. She was in charge of deleting the names of people who registered with NHIS cards from the electoral roll, but it has been noted that she didn’t delete everyone. Observers have discerned that the majority of people deleted from the list had Akan-bearing names, and are likely supporters of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), which is one of the NDC’s major competitors.
There are many stories in the media about energy issues. Recently there have been prolonged periods of power outages and critics are saying that the government has not been proactive about solving the problem. Parliament promised to solve the matter four years ago, but limited funding and effort has been applied to energy issues. I’ve spoken to a few Ghanaians who have said that they want to elect a leader who they trust to fix the problem.
Another one of my coworkers has said that he is going to vote for the candidate who is most capable of bringing the economy alive. There have been conversations on the radio and stories in the papers about how to increase Ghana’s GDP. The country has had a successful fiscal year, and Ghanaians want to continue that trend.
These are a few of the issues that I’ve noticed are most prevalent in the media; however, this is coming from an outsider’s perspective. I’m sure there are other problems with equal or more importance.
Similar to the US, the news outlets are covered with stories about political candidates and issues regarding the elections. Both countries face challenges when choosing whom to elect, and before the end of the year the US and Ghana will have chosen a new leader.