September 29, 2020

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Political manifestoes are marketing tools – Prof. Jonah

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Senior lecturer at the University of Ghana, Prof. Kwesi Jonah has described both the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and National Democratic Congress (NDC) campaign manifestos as “marketing tools”.

Speaking on NewsFile, Saturday, Dr Jonah said that an analysis of the manifestoes of political parties shows that they are merely “vote-catching instruments” used to bag votes.

“In Ghanaian politics, the manifesto has come to perform 2 contradictory functions; on the one hand, to the political parties the manifesto is a vote-catching instrument, it is a marketing tool; this is something I’m going to use to bag all the votes I can get. Therefore the more promises I put in it, the higher the chances of collecting these votes,” he said.

On the other hand, he indicated that these same manifestos are forced to “become the foundation of the medium-term development agenda” of the party that is voted into government. These promises of “heaven and earth” as he described them are then faced with resource constraints.

“Pushing them into the development agenda brings you face-to-face with a resource constraint. How much resources are available to me to translate all the promises I made into action?” He queried.

“So you started with a document that was essentially a marketing tool but you end up with something which you actually have to implement, and implementation requires resources,” he added.

He attributed the challenge with these manifestoes to the fact that “the nation is not operating within an overall national goal”.

“If we had a genuine national development goal, then every party’s manifesto would be geared towards achieving it,” he stated.

Although he admitted that the political parties would each have a different approach to implementing these goals, he intimated that in the very least the overall need of the nation would be met in due course.

Another challenge he found with the manifestoes was what he called “weak inter-sectoral linkages”. He wondered, for example, what the educational reforms meant without ready and available jobs for the students after they graduate.

This, he said gave the impression that the manifestos were mere “shopping lists” as no attempt seems to be made in creating any connections between the various sectors.

“It is a shopping list so you just list them without asking yourself: ‘Are there any linkages between the various sectors that I am dealing with?’ If you are building more hospitals and clinics, you have to think, am I going to produce more doctors to fill them?… You do something in one sector, it will affect the other sector. This is another weakness. These are issues that as a nation, we have to deal with,” he concluded.

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