Story: Rebecca Tetteh
The leadership of the Ghana Society of Physically Disabled has expressed concern about the low participation of its members in the upcoming district-level elections, citing financial challenges.
While some people with disabilities are contesting as assembly and unit committee members in certain areas, others have opted out, partly due to financial constraints.
The Ghana Society of Physically Disabled noted that the politicization and monetization of the process have made it difficult for members to participate, as they cannot afford the cost of printing banners and posters for campaign activities.
Despite these concerns, the Ashanti Regional President of the Ghana Society of Physically Disabled, Stephen Gyan, emphasized the need for voters to focus on the capabilities of persons with disabilities rather than sympathy.
“Unfortunately, the participation of my members in the elections in the region has not been encouraging. Comparing their participation in the past to this year is disheartening because the whole process has become expensive. In the past, you didn’t have to print posters, but now, if you don’t print posters, nobody will see you.”
“Now, if you are an aspiring assembly member, you need to give out so much money, and our people are vulnerable in getting money for such ventures. Three of our members had initially decided to contest, but one of them just told me it was difficult for him to go through, so he withdrew. This is not about sympathy; we must be included to help design the structure for all because we are capable”, he said.
In the Ashanti Region, a total of 3919 candidates are vying as assembly members, and 9,195 are also vying as unit committee members.
Meanwhile the Electoral Commission (EC) has announced its readiness to conduct the upcoming district-level elections in over 38,000 polling stations nationwide.
This includes conflict areas like Bawku in the Upper East Region and Nkwanta in the Oti Region.
Dr. Bossman Asare, the Deputy Commissioner in charge of Corporate Service in an interview with the media disclosed that, the Commission had received assurances from all security services to ensure adequate protection on the day of the elections.
“We are not experts when it comes to security. We work with the Ghana police service under the Election Security Task Force. And as we speak now, we haven’t received information to the effect that we cannot have elections in the Oti area. No information like that has come out and come Tuesday, all the 38,315 polling stations are going to have the elections… including conflict areas”, he said.
He insisted that his outfit would only change their decision when they get a contrary report.
“We’ve never had any information to the contrary. If we hear the information that let’s say Bawku, if we hear anything or we receive any credible information to that effect, we are going to advise ourselves,” he added.
Meanwhile, the EC has set an ambitious target of 60% voter turnout in various districts which is even higher than the expectations of the Local Government Ministry which is targeting 50%.
According to Dr Bossman Asare, “based on the feedback we are getting from the commercials we are running for the electoral areas, the information coming to us is that the enthusiasm level is very high, people are participating in the numbers.”
So we are also looking at something between 50 to 60%. And as a commission, we think that many Ghanaians are interested in the process and the measures we’ve also put in place should be able to ensure that people come out in the numbers”.
Section six of the Local Governance Act 2016 (Act 936), as amended by Act 940, provides that the DLEs are held every four years and take place a year before the Presidential and Parliamentary elections.
Since 1988, Ghana has had eight successive local-level elections to engender greater citizen participation in the process.
The EC subsequently opened nominations for the district-level elections in November this year.
The election will take place in 6,272 electoral areas in 259 districts out of a total of 261.
There would be no elections in Nkoranza North and South in the Bono East regions because the polls were held in the two districts in April 2020 and the next one would be conducted for both districts in 2025.