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Handing out cash is a “time honored practice” in African politics.


Once again for the umpteenth time, President John Mahama is under attack, this time for allegedly distributing cash on one of his many campaign stops. Attack dogs of the main opposition party wasted no time jumping on the President.

When blurry images of Mr Mahama emerged depicting him in the act of handing money to a smattering of market women at Abossey Okai in Accra, his political foes went into a frenzy, with some having the audacity to accuse him of desperation and vote-buying.

But viewed from a neutral perspective, the whole thing has been blown out of proportion by opposition communicators and frustratingly, the president’s men have not helped the situation with their mistimed and poorly coordinated responses. Take Kofi Adam’s statement for instance; it was not only the most outrageous and scornful, it was also the most contemptuous.

To dismissively say that the president is free to distribute cash on campaign trails, as Mr Adams inexplicably did, failed to take into consideration the current cash crunch afflicting millions of Ghanaians…..the aesthetics, the photos of Mr Mahama in an open SUV gleefully handing out money to cheering supporters were in poor taste, and the NDC chief scribe should have acknowledged that right from the outset, instead of putting out a statement justifying the president’s action.

After much criticism, however, Mr Adams retracted his previous statement and said the president was just distributing party paraphernalia which of course stretched the truth a bit, thus creating an avenue for Mr Mahama’s political foes, who like sharks smelled blood and pounced.

Well,  the accusation that the president is trying to influence the 2016 elections with wads of cedis, is rank hypocrisy coming as it is from an opposition that does the same thing. It is clear from the accusations that the opposition is pushing the narrative that the president is desperate to retain power and will do about anything to realize that goal.

But the president is doing what anyone of us would done if a stranger tried breaking into our house to take from us what we have worked so hard to achieve. We will use all the legitimate means at our disposal to protect those gains.

Spreading money around during elections is a time honored practice among Ghanaian politicians. They engage in it with one purpose in mind; to sway voters to their side, and if it is vote buying, so be it.

In advanced democracies such as the United States, money in politics is used primarily to influence legislation, and ultimately public policy. It is done discreetly, behind close doors without much fanfare. But in developing nations, money is dispensed to buy the loyalty of voters. It is done brazenly and openly without as much as a thought given to its negative effects on democracy.

However angry we are about money corrupting our politics, let’s face it; money is an integral part of our politics, and indeed in politics everywhere else; it is the conduit to votes, and politicians don’t shy away from it. It is an ugly system, truth be told, but there is absolutely nothing ordinary folks can do about it, our hands are tied.

The big boys in the yard—the major political parties—-benefit disproportionately from this system because of their huge financial reserves, and the small parties without the financial resources barely leave a mark on the landscape. It is unfair, but then again, so is life.

Those who gratuitously accuse the president of vote buying—–which he wasn’t —– are clearly blowing hot air. They are just as guilty of this cardinal sin—giving out cash— as the president. All told, Mr Mahama was doing exactly what all African politicians do in the heady days of political campaigns, hand out globs of cash to get voters to the polls.




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