Pulse Editorial: Political opportunism amidst COVID-19 impact

A collective political will is urgently required, along with greater cooperation between the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and New Patriotic Party (NPP), to deal with a critical stage in the transmission of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Asiedu Nketia and John Boadu

After over a month-and-a-half of sanguine messaging about the relatively low incidence of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Ghana, a sudden scaling up of travel restrictions, quarantines and lockdowns in parts of the country took people by surprise.

In the national mood, both the NDC and the NPP have sought to score political brownie points. This has led to confused messaging on the scale and impact of the pandemic.

Bipartisanship and collective political spirit have been missen in the face of a stark need to take steps to deal with the crisis at hand.

There was no dialogue between the ruling party and the opposition to discuss and incorporate measures in the finance and appropriations bill, which was passed to deal with economic distress due to COVID-19.

No discussions were similarly held to curtail this session of Parliament which has exposed over 2100 people to the virus.

A collective political will is urgently required, along with greater cooperation between the NPP and NDC, to deal with a critical stage in the transmission of the virus.

While that urgency might have begun to take shape, political opportunism needs to be checked.

COVID-19 epidemic not only threatens human health but also undermines social and political patterns.

It has a characteristic to inhibit politics. The most important reason for this is the conflict between the logic of politics, which discriminates between friends and enemies.

This dispute also influences the decision-making dynamics.

Some countries are imposing serious lockdowns, Ghana is being far laxer, and other countries in Africa have fallen somewhere in between.

The General Secretary of the NDC, Johnson Asiedu Nketia, has strongly asserted that the opposition party will "forever politicize" the deadly coronavirus.

The NDC urged the President to show leadership in enforcing the Executive Directives banning all social gatherings in the country.

The party made the call following the National Identification Authority's continuous Ghana card registration exercise despite a ban on such activities.

He added that President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and some of his appointees were all exposed to the virus after their recent visit to Norway and could be infected.

John Boadu, the General Secretary of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP), has asserted that the deadly coronavirus pandemic would have been worse if former president John Mahama was in power as President of the Republic.

He said the deadly virus would have worsened the situation in the country and gave reasons that Mahama and the NDC shared the same belief as other European countries that repatriated their citizens in China at the beginning of the pandemic.

He believes the NDC would have evacuated Ghanaian students studying in China.

"Those countries like Iran, the UK, Italy, Spain, and the USA that reasoned like the NDC and brought their citizens back from China, have you seen their situation today? The number of COVID-19 cases would have skyrocketed and spiralled out of control just as its happening in those countries if NDC under Mahama was in power," he said.

He noted that a lot of the advanced countries are now focusing on contact tracing strategy, placing Ghana ahead of them in terms of being proactive by the government.

The donations of food and relief items to Ghanaians under lockdown became a political discussion when the Bono Regional Chairman for the NPP, Kwame Baffoe Abronye DC hinted that former President John Mahama and the NDC hatched a plan to serve poisoned foods to Ghanaians in the wake of the coronavirus.

He said the attempt by the NDC is to tarnish the image of the government.

Abronye DC disclosed that the move is a grand scheme being spearheaded by Mahama and the NDC COVID-19 team members just to enhance their chances in the 2020 elections.

There is a preponderance of the evidence that both Nana Addo and John Mahama have latched onto the COVID-19 pandemic to put out a political message ahead of general polls in December.

Nana Addo's eighth televised update on Ghana's COVID-19 situation has been criticised for containing statements that should be on a campaign platform.

The president said the government will soon commence the construction of hospitals in the 88 districts in the country without hospitals.

He said the coronavirus pandemic has exposed the massive gap in health infrastructure in the country and the need for government to attend to it.

In reaction to the President's address, the NDC said Ghanaians don't need to be promised unrealistic goals.

The NDC also accused the President after he took a decision to lift the partial lockdown in Greater Accra and Greater Kumasi, as well as Kasoa and Tema.

The NDC said it is a calculated attempt and politically motivated.

The party believes it's an attempt by the government to allow the Electoral Commission (EC) to compile a new register of voters for the 2020 general elections and nothing more.

The NDC and other political parties have kicked against the EC's decision to compile a new register describing it as a waste of money and an attempt by the governing NPP to rig the elections in December.

The NPP, however, is in support of the new register and the EC is also bent on compiling a new register at all costs.

But the NDC believes that the decision by the President is a reckless political gamble that portends great danger for this nation.

In the midst of a global pandemic, Ghana needs to rise beyond political opportunity and put the health of its people first. Just as the president of Ghana His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo said in his first address: "These are not normal times".

Pulse Editorial is the opinion of the editorial team of Pulse. It does not represent the opinion of the organization Pulse.


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