Vote buying is literally described as any reward given to a voter for the purposes of influencing him or her to vote for a particular political party or refrain from voting. It can be in kind or cash.
Vote buying is not only an unethical and corrupt election practice but is an affront and grossly insulting to the intelligence and dignity of the electorate.
Voting is a constitutional right and a civic responsibility which must not be taken lightly. Our choice has serious social and economic consequences rather than a simple expression of personal preferences.
The decision we make is not for ourselves but for our common and collective good. Bad choices at the ballot box have negative consequences for society, and we are all forced to live with those consequences.
The needs of the electorate
It is our sacred and moral duty to vote well and wisely. The unemployed youth and graduates are looking up to a party which has sound economic policies and demonstrates ability to build an economy that will create sustainable jobs. The poor and vulnerable in society want a party that will ensure peace and security and respect for the rule of law.
The rural folks are looking for leadership that will provide access to good roads, potable water, electricity and health care. The farmers will particularly be looking for a government that will provide them with farming inputs at affordable prices, initiatives to modernise agriculture, storage facilities and market for their produce at reasonable prices.
Workers will be looking at a government that will ensure better living conditions of service and improvement in social amenities.
The majority of Ghanaians are praying earnestly for a leader who is God loving and fearing, who has the love for the country and fellow countrymen, a visionary, a selfless and incorruptible person who will take bold decisions for the betterment of the people.
Such a leader must also be a peace maker and unifier, sensitive to the plight of the people and capable of implementing programmes and plans to improve the living standards of the people, reduce poverty, sustain economic growth and stimulate social development through pragmatic policies.
These considerations must inform the choices we make and not an offer of a loaf of bread just like Esau who sold his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of lentil stew (Gen. 25:29-34). Politicians have over the years come under sharp criticisms and are perceived to be liars, self-serving individuals, greedy, and who capitalise on the ignorance of the masses to win political power to satisfy their personal ego and interest. There are only a few of them who demonstrate genuine desire to work to improve the lives of the people they represent.
Most of them talk and fail to walk the talk. They lack the honesty to follow through their campaign promises and the integrity to stand up for what they believe in. They are like the many ‘pastors’ who the Bible says serve their own bellies and by their fine words and flattering speech, deceive innocent people (Rom. 16:18).
They are described as money-hungry people who are opportunists and pursue their self-interest to promote their personal agenda and exploit people who live in poverty and destitution with deceptive words and tell them enticing words and what they are itching to hear (2 Tim. 4:3-4; 2 Pt. 2:3). Tragically, even some traditional and religious leaders become ensnared to the trap of these false politicians.
We will be doing a disservice to our nation and the future of children if we fail to vote wisely and allow our conscience to be clouded by our emotions; material needs; ethnic and tribal considerations.
Ghanaians who are impoverished see the candidates spending a lot of money and feel they deserve part of that. A number of them have voted for a number of political parties and have not seen any improvement in their living conditions.
They see the parties pretty much the same in terms of their programmes and inability to fulfil their campaign promises and feel like they would not be making a difference if they choose one of those candidates by making some money as part of the process. There are others who see no value in their vote and do not see their vote as something valuable which could make a difference in deciding who should govern the country.
Politicians feed on the electorate’s gullibility and impressionability. Three months to the election and the political parties have not come up with their manifestoes to enable the electorate to make informed decisions and choices based on their policies and programmes. It is the only tool for the electorate to hold political parties accountable for their campaign promises.
It is expected that civil society, religious bodies and leaders, and non-governmental organisations will educate their constituents on the dangers of vote selling. They must campaign vigorously against accepting money from politicians or their agents prior to elections aimed at influencing their votes. Even if they are compelled by some circumstances to take what is being offered, they must still vote according to their conscience. Their votes must reflect their expectations and how they expect to be governed.
If voters end up voting according to their conscience, the vote buying cannot succeed in what it intends to do.
Source: Justice Michael Sarpong/Daily Graphic
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