Editorial: Manifesto pledges must be backed by law
It is just three months to the December polls and the political atmosphere is as usual tensed, irrespective of the Covid-19 pandemic and the dangers it poses.
Politicians are still able to pull crowds to their gatherings, where they mostly discuss their visions, goals and aspirations, should they win power.
One of the issues that is becoming very prominent in these gatherings is about ‘manifesto documents’. Much of the developmental works that these politicians intend to undertake are espoused in these manifestos.
Many citizens are now depending on these promises contained in these manifestos to make informed choices.
Elsewhere, there are over 50-100 years development plan put in place to guide national development and any political party that wins power is required to follow the laid down plan, irrespective of the party’s philosophical base.
However, in Ghana, the idea of documenting a long-term development hasn’t sunk in yet, irrespective of the many advocacies being championed by the United Nations Development Programme and other development partners.
The nearest Ghana came to developing and accepting a long-term development plan was when the former NDC government, headed by Dr. Nii Moi Thompson launched a 40-year National Development Plan for Ghana, to provide a framework for national development binding on successive governments. However, when the New Patrotic Party took over the reign of power, they downplayed the relevance of a 40-year national development plan to guide Ghana’s development agenda and that was where it all ended.
As a result a lot of the citizens continue to rely on political manifestos in their choice of candidates to steer the affairs of the nation every four years. Some smart politicians have, therefore, started making what people describe as over ambitious and phantom promises.
On August 22, the NPP government launched its 2020 manifesto dubbed “Leadership of Service: Protecting our Progress, Transforming Ghana for All” and seeking additional four years to consolidate their gains.
Similarly, on September 7, this week, the biggest opposition party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) also launched its manifesto called the “People’s Manifesto” which sto create massive jobs. There was a promise of an investment of ten billion US Dollars ($10bn) over five (5) years to achieve a critical upgrade in social and economic infrastructure to create a platform for the transformation of Ghana’s economy in furtherance of a One Million Jobs Plan.
For us at The Chronicle, we believe that some of these promises are over ambitious and sometimes unachievable, but since there are no laws binding these political parties to fulfill the social contract they entered into with Ghanaians, they pick and choose which promises to execute or not, over their mandated period.
Politicians are also aware that the manifesto upon which we vote them into power is a social contract they sign with us, yet since there are no laws backing their enforcement, they ignore the promises.
In fact, the President while launching the NPP manifesto said that “We, in the New Patriotic Party, fully understand the consequence of putting a signature to a contract. In 2016, we presented our Manifesto, titled “Change: An Agenda for Jobs; Creating Prosperity and Equal Opportunity For All” to the Ghanaian people. It represented a solemn social contract between the electorate and us, on the basis of which, by the grace of God and the generosity of the Ghanaian people, we secured a famous and overwhelming victory.”
The Chronicle believes that backing the manifesto with legislation will make our politicians sit up and check what they promise us. It will also make them fulfill the promises they make to us.