It has emerged that more than half of Ghanaians do not seem to have any idea about the upcoming referendum scheduled for December 2019.
The referendum is to amend Article 55 (3) of the 1992 Constitution to allow political parties to participate in local government elections. The Constitution requires a minimum of 40 per cent voter turnout for the referendum to be valid with 75 per cent voting ‘Yes’ to ensure the amendment is successful.
A survey conducted by Afrobarometer, a pan-African and non-profit research network, indicates that fewer than half (42 per cent) of Ghanaians are aware of the December 2019 referendum.
The survey, which was led by the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), interviewed 2,400 adult Ghanaians between 16th September and 3rd October 2019.
According to the report, with the few Ghanaians who have some level of knowledge about the referendum, “men, the highly educated, elderly citizens and people in rural communities were found to be more aware of the referendum than women, citizens with less schooling, young adults and people in urban centres.”
“A slim majority of those who are aware of the referendum find the Electoral Commission’s preparations for the referendum to be satisfactory. However, majority of Ghanaians said there had not been a lot of education about the voting exercise,” the report said.
This, according to Afrobarometer, is likely to result in low voter turnout for the referendum, especially since it will be conducted together with the local government elections, which historically attract less than 40 per cent of registered voters.
The survey also found that contrary to popular opinion that more members of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) are interested in the referendum, members of the People’s National Democratic Congress (PNC) and the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) expressed interest to vote in the referendum than the NPP.
Commenting on the report, Dr. Kwesi Jonah, a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG), expressed worry about the lack of awareness on the referendum.
He called on civil society organizations, the Electoral Commission, the Information Services Department (ISD), the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), among other interested organizations, to intensify their efforts in the creation of awareness on the issue.
The Head of Department of Peace Studies, University of Cape Coast, Dr. Patrick Osei-Kufuor, who reiterated the call for the intensive education on the referendum, however, expressed worry over the less concentration given to the core issue of the referendum by Afrobarometer.
By Nana Kwasi