Ghana’s Historic Presidential Debates


With the post-election violence in Kenya an all too recent memory and as Zimbabwe continues to slip into a downward spiral after its most recent elections, Ghana’s December 7 elections could be a breath of fresh air for Africa. This is the first time in Ghanaian history that all major parties are taking part in televised presidential debates.

Today, Ghana’s four presidential candidates will sit before a record-setting television and radio audience for the second and final round before the elections. Today’s debate will address governance and social issues following the October 29 debate, which focused primarily on the economy and energy. Knowledge of the candidates’ platforms will help Ghanaians make an educated presidential choice not along ethnic lines, monetary handouts, or coercion, but based on policy.

The first round of debates on October 28th in Accra were an overwhelming success. They reached a record-breaking number of people – between 10 to 20 million with exact numbers difficult to determine. The debate was substantive, focused, and provided concrete policy positions. For example, on the economy and energy, My Joy Online reported:

In tandem with his party’s philosophy, Nana Akufo-Addo said the private sector was critical in dealing with the question of job creation….He said small and medium scale enterprises in the country should be supported because they are the main providers of jobs.

Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom, who was first to give his view on what the country can do to generally ensure adequate supply of energy, said it is time Ghana put into utmost use plants that have been rendered virtually useless for over 15 years.

Dr. Edward Mahama advised; ‘In order to avoid future problems we need to have a healthy mix of hydro, thermal, solar and wind for energy sufficiency.’

According Prof. Atta Mills, the power crisis that hit Ghana about a year ago could have been contained if the government had taken steps to continue measures that were initiated by the NDC.

These statements are an example of the clear messages and cordial and professional tone that upheld the debates. It has set the standard for today’s round.

The stakes are high in Tamale – Ghana’s northern capital – where the economy is notably poorer and the atmosphere typically more politically volatile. Though security will be a more immediate concern and logistics more complex, holding the debates in what the locals consider an abandoned part of the country was a monumental decision. It will give the northern part of the country a much needed voice.

A successful event will provide hope that Ghana’s elections will be truly democratic – free of the violence, coercion, and rigging that often typifies African politics. This will allow Ghana to continue to be a model for democracy, development and stability on the continent.

Ghana’s Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) is to credit with these events. The organization has been seamless and the team has worked indefatigably and neutrally to ensure clear questions and clear messages so that Ghanaians will be armed with the necessary information to make the best choice for them.

The four major candidates in the running are:

Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo-Addo of the New Patriotic Party (NPP)

Professor John Evans Atta Mills of the National Democratic Congress (NDC)

Dr. Edward Mahama, People’s National Convention (PNC)

Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom from the Convention People’s Party (CPP)

For more information on the candidates see here, here, here, and also here.