#GhanaDecides: Will the anti-establishment wave sweep away Mahama?

It is a bad time to be an incumbent, or at least a member of the political establishment, anywhere in the world.

Last year, on his fourth attempt, Muhammadu Buhari beat Goodluck Jonathan to unseat an incumbent president for the first time in Nigerian history. This year, there has been the shock vote to leave the EU by the British, and in the aftermath of that vote, David Cameron resigned. In America, Donald Trump upended the entire US political establishment on his road to becoming President-elect, and beating Hillary Clinton in an election many were certain he could not win.

Will John Mahama go the same way? There is no way to know for sure, but there is enough reason why he should.

There has been growing discontent over Mahama’s handling of the economy. Since 2012, partly because of the decline in commodity prices, but more because of economic mismanagement and reckless spending, Ghana is on the verge of another debt crisis only a decade after getting debt forgiveness from the IMF.

That debt forgiveness was secured during the John Kufuor administration, a reward for steady reforms and sensible economic management. Ghana became an example for the rest of Africa.

Since the return of the NDC to power in 2008, much of that discipline has gone, accelerated under John Mahama who became President after John Atta Mills passed on in July 2012.

Ghana’s currency has lost a lot of its value over the past few years and inflation is high, leading to harder times for Ghanaians. Power supply is erratic, leading to the ‘Dumsor must go’ protests last year. Corruption is on the rise as well, with the NDC government involved in scandals concerning certain agencies.

These failures are what the opposition NPP, led by Nana Akufo-Addo, hope to tap into to be successful at the polls tomorrow. Akufo-Addo is contesting in his third presidential elections, after losing narrowly in 2008 and 2012. The 2012 defeat was contested in a litigation that lasted eight months, and a 5-4 decision in favour of the NDC by Ghana’s Supreme Court.

This election will be similarly close, and will be decided by the personalities of the main contenders, and which of the two messages stick. The incumbent John Mahama is viewed as more likeable in contrast to Akufo-Addo, but is portrayed as incompetent and corrupt by the opposition.

For this reason, the NPP’s slogan is ‘change’. It is making a pitch to the electorate to take the country on a different path. If the Ghanaian people like the NPP’s message, Mahama will be the next incumbent to bite the dust.


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