The Centre for Democratic Development (CDD) has Okayed a publicity campaign that clearly seeks to coax Ghanaians to vote in favour of YES for the December 17, 2019 referendum that seeks to amend the law on whether political parties should or should not sponsor candidates during the planned election of Municipal, Metropolitan and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs).
In the media advertisement authorised by the CDD and a copy in the possession of Whatsup News, the presenter was clearly subliminally throwing a YES into her narrative in what critics say amounts to “Dog whistling”, a political term to describe carefully asked trigger works to persuade people.
CDD is supposed to be a neutral arbiter in the forthcoming referendum and as such has been funded by international agencies such as the United States aid agency USAID. However, advertisement being run under its auspices appear to be persuading eligible voters to go vote in support of the notion that political parties should participate in the MMDCEs election.
The advert started with scenes showing Ghanaians on various social strata complaining about their situation, after which the presenter explained how they can vote to change their situation. “There is something more you can do. Vote December 17,” she said with a query from her audience whether it is this year, of which she answers “Yes”.
“This year December 17, is when you elect Assembly and Unit Committee Members and vote to decide if political parties can sponsor candidates in future…Your vote will do more to change what you don’t like than you think,” she said.
Already, CDD’s advert has added to the air of confusion around the purpose of the forthcoming referendum. While others say it is a vote to allow the election of MMDCEs, the CDD and others are saying it is a referendum to determine whether political parties can sponsor MMDCEs.
The opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) on Monday waded into the debate as it tries to clarify what it says is pervasive misinformation.
“The referendum as we have been told, seeks to amend Article 55 (3) of the Constitution. That amendment has nothing to do with the election of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs),” the NDC clarified in a statement put out on Monday.
Meanwhile, a notice issued by the EC said among other things that “the referendum is to approve or reject the provision on whether MMDCEs are to be voted or not”. The NDC says this notice is “a palpable falsehood”.
Last Friday, the National Commission for Civic Education, the NCCE, the official state agency responsible for public education on the Constitution, also sought to clarify the confusion: “The NCCE has noted with concern misinformation in the media that the 17th December 2019 referendum is to elect Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs). The Commission wishes to clarify that the 2019 National Referendum is to enable citizens to vote on the proposed amendment of Article 55 (3) of the 1992 Constitution that currently bars political parties from participating in District Level Elections (DLEs). The proposed amendment is to introduce multi-party participation in the Local Government System in Ghana”.
Already, President Akufo Addo and the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) have publicly urged voters to vote YES during the referendum. However, exactly what electorates would be voting for is still caught up in the realm of confusion with the referendum barely one month away.