CHECKING INCUMBENCY ABUSE, VOTE BUYING

The issue of incumbency abuse and vote buying that characterise every election held in the country is being raised again.

A coalition of anti-corruption organisations at a press conference in Accra last week, called on stakeholders in the electoral process to take the issue up and speak against it.

The coalition, consisting of the Ghana Intergrity Initiative (GII), Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC), Citizen’s Movement against Corruption (CMaC) and Centre for Democratic Development (CDD), said the abuse of incumbency remained a bane of the country’s drive to build a stronger democracy.

Quite frankly at every election, questions on abuse of incumbency are raised and discussed, and once the elections are over, we all go to sleep.

As far back as The Times could remember, the issue of incumbency abuse and vote buying has been a major allegation levelled against ruling governments since 1992, when the country began its fourth republican journey.

Fortunately, when the issue is raised, it become topical, with both political parties and civil society debating and calling for it to be examined and addressed.

After over two decades of democratic practice, the phenomenon persist and compounded by vote buying, and what is now called, vote selling.

Indeed, according to Mr Edem K. Senanu, Executive Director of CMaC, a research conducted recently found out a new phenomenon that residents demand infrastructure before voting, which is now described as vote selling.

This phenomenon, in addition to vote buying, the research indicated has emboldened politicians to trade projects in exchange for votes.

These are clearly violations of democratic principles that have long been condemned, at least since the time of Aristotle, who defined a tyrant as one who governs according to his personal advantage rather than the common good.

The fundamental effect of incumbency abuse, vote buying and selling, if not checked can deprive the electorate of their most basic liberty, the right to freely choose a self government.

The abuse of incumbency by politicians is an offence that is capable of undermining the constitution and give unequal chance to gain unfair advantage to perpetuate themselves onto the people.

It is, therefore, important to address the issues now before they escalate in the near future.

Today, it may be abuse of incumbency, vote buying and selling, who knows what might come to add onto it as we continue to hold more elections in the future?

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