COMMUNIQUÉ ON PERTINENT NATIONAL ISSUES
The Conference of Heads of Churches and Organizations (CHoCO) is an annual program on the calendar of the Ghana Pentecostal and Charismatic Council (GPCC). At the 2024 Conference of Heads of Churches and Organizations (CHoCO), held at the Pentecost Convention Center (PCC) from Wednesday 14th to Thursday 15th February 2024, the Conference among other things, interceded in prayers for our beloved country and deliberated on pertinent issues prevailing in, and of concern to Ghana and Ghanaians. These deliberations included the Ghanaian economy, the fight against corruption and the 2024 General Elections in Ghana.
- THEMATIC AREAS
- The Economy
The Conference acknowledges that globally, economies have been in turmoil over the past few years and are facing various degrees of socio-economic challenges. However, in Ghana, besides the economic challenges, there are issues of concern relating to corruption, unacceptable levels of inflation, the introduction of new tax levies and high levels of unemployment. These conditions tend to worsen the economic challenges facing the Ghanaian population. The GPCC recognizes that the Government of Ghana is making efforts to contain the situation. Meanwhile, Pastors and Church leaders across the country have also in various ways supported their members and given them hope in the midst of the current challenges.
While GPCC agrees to the need to raise revenue, the Council believes that focus should be on growing the economy first, before taxing the growth. Given the recent burden borne by Ghanaians, the introduction of new taxes such as the emission levy on motor vehicles and the (suspended) 15 per cent VAT charge on electricity consumption, after the recent pains of the Domestic Debt Exchange Programme (DDEP), and sharp exchange rate depreciation, makes it look as though the Government is not mindful of the pains Ghanaians have had to bear towards the current economic stabilization and modest gains achieved.
- The Fight Against Corruption
The GPCC notes with concern that over the last three (3) years (2021-2023), Ghana’s score on the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index (CPI) has stagnated at 43 (out of 100) and currently ranks 70 out of 180 countries. Though the Government seem to have committed so much resources into strengthening anti-corruption institutions, including the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP), the Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO), and the Judiciary among others, the results do not seem to give credit to the investments made. Concerns are rife among Ghanaians about the apparent stagnation of efforts towards curbing the corruption menace. The effects of corruption on socio-economic development of the Ghanaian population makes it imperative for Government to strengthen its efforts in dealing with the canker.
- The 2024 General Elections
Under the Fourth Republic, Ghana has had eight General Elections which have all been described as relatively peaceful. Regrettably, these elections have also been characterized by monetization, cheating, electoral manipulation, violence, ethnocentrism, and sadly, even deaths. The GPCC is concerned about this unfortunate trend. May the souls of the persons who lost their lives during any of the elections rest in peace and may their families be consoled. The GPCC considers it unfortunate and is concerned that closure has not been brought to these election related incidents that has caused injuries and deaths.
In the 2024 elections, the stakes are high as usual, and therefore GPCC calls on the Government and all stakeholders including politicians, the Electoral Commission, the Ghana Police (and other security services), the media, the youth, Traditional Leaders and religious bodies, to ensure that the forthcoming general elections are peaceful, and without any loss of life. The Council calls on all to be vigilant in maintaining and jealously protecting the peace dividend Ghana enjoys.
- BRIEF ON KEY STAKEHOLDERS OF 2024 GENERAL ELECTIONS
We call on all politicians and political parties to put Ghana first and to show commitment to the peace of the country, so that should they win elections, they would have a country to govern. In that regard, GPCC urges all politicians to be circumspect in their utterances, prudent in their engagements, and accommodating in their interactions. They should avoid the use of hate-speech and whipping up ethnocentric sentiments of their constituents.
Monetization of Elections
Due to economic hardships in the country, electoral voters tend to be more easily induced by “gifts”, vote-buying, and other forms of electoral monetization by politicians. We recognize that this trend is getting worse and has the propensity of compromising the integrity of the electoral process and may in future affect the quality of persons that would emerge as leaders. The Council calls on all politicians to refrain from any form of electoral monetization but commit to the rules and guidelines of elections that is based on contest of development policies and ideas.
- The Electoral Commission
The GPCC acknowledges the central role played by the Electoral Commission in the entire electoral program of the country. Owing to the sensitive nature of the role of the Electoral Commission in Ghana’s democratic governance, especially during General Elections, the GPCC calls on the Commission to be thorough and very circumspect in the discharge of its constitutional mandate. GPCC calls on the Electoral Commission to be very professional in the conduct of the 2024 elections. Any matters of ambiguity which may arise before, during, or after the elections should be promptly and adequately addressed.
- The Police And Other Security Services
The GPCC recognizes the increasing professionalism of the Ghana Police Service. However, towards the 2024 general elections, the Council wishes to emphasize the need for continued vigilance on the part of the security services. The Council calls on the Police and other Security Services to be neutral and professional, and to put Ghana first beyond any other considerations in the upcoming elections.
- The Media
The Council acknowledges the critical role the Media plays in the development of Ghana’s fledgling democracy. Journalists and pressmen have all contributed to the credibility of election results. Generally, the Media has helped in shaping the electoral process, and to building confidence in the results.
- Chiefs And Traditional Leaders
GPCC commends our revered Chiefs and Traditional Leaders for their role in contributing to the relatively peaceful atmosphere we have enjoyed as a country.
Chiefs and Traditional Leaders should continue playing their mediating roles to ensure peaceful elections. The Council would also like to appeal to Chiefs and Traditional Leaders to see themselves as symbols of peace and unity in the country. We therefore request that the National House of Chiefs caution members of their fraternity who appear to be partisan.
- The Youth
According to the 2021 population census, 73 per cent (representing 22.6 million people) of Ghana’s 32.8 million people are 35 years or younger. (2021 DHS). GPCC considers this youthful population as a great asset to the nation. However, as at December 2023, the unemployment rate in Ghana is 14.7 per cent (Ghana Statistical Service, 2023). The high unemployment rate, makes the youth vulnerable to all kinds of social vices. The youth become easy targets of political activists who lure them into deviant behaviors including political violence. This is of great concern to the GPCC. We wish to assure the teeming Ghanaian youth that there is hope for the future.
- Religious Bodies
About 94 per cent of Ghana’s population are identified to be associated with Christianity, Islam or Traditional religious faith (2021 DHS). Thus, religion plays a very crucial role in the affairs of the Ghanaian populace. GPCC recognizes that for the first time in the history of our beloved nation, and particularly under the fourth (4th) Republican democratic dispensation, the Presidential candidates for the two largest and leading political parties in Ghana are from the Christian and Moslem faiths. We are aware that this novel development, if not well managed, has the tendency of creating unnecessary religious tensions in the country.
As has been the practice over the years, and especially in election years, GPCC will provide, prayers and counseling and make its networks available to all politicians irrespective of religious orientation. The prayer and counselling support will be through the GPCC structures at the National, Regional, District, and Community levels. GPCC Church leaders would deploy our electronic platforms and physical meeting spaces to provide prayers, counseling, and emotional support.
The Church would provide mediation among persons and to ensure peace, unity, and healing. The Council will encourage prayer gatherings to pray for the nation and for the 2024 elections. The Council would establish a Prayer network purposely for the elections and election-related issues.
- The Economy
We call on Government to take a second look at the recent introduction of new taxes, and to rather explore alternative revenue mobilization measures, including the widening of the direct tax net and a reduction in Government expenditure to ease the economic burden on Ghanaians.
Policy measures should be directed at improving the productive sector of the economy as a means of promoting economic growth, especially in the private sector so as to create more employment avenues for the teeming unemployed youth.
- The Fight Against Corruption
The Executive, Legislature, Judiciary and the Media, as well as the general population must be seen to be actively co-operating in the fight against corrupt practices and to make acts of corruption a very costly venture in the Ghanaian society. Solo efforts by any of the identifiable entities in the fight against corruption may not yield the expected outcomes of dealing with the menace. Reports of alleged corruption must be transparently handled by the requisite anti-corruption agency irrespective of the religious, political or ethnic background of the alleged perpetrators.
We call on persons of high-level influence in our Ghanaian society to desist from meddling in reported cases of corruption in ways that prevents the anti-corruption agencies from pursuing their constitutional mandate. These practices tend to frustrate the fight against corruption and rather promote it to the detriment of the entire society.
- The 2024 General Elections
The year 2024 as an election year, that poses a major risk to the gains being made on the Ghanaian economy. Past experiences show that a lot of fiscal slippage occur in election years. The GPCC, like other Ghanaians are concerned that fiscal and other economic decisions by Government in this election year, may derail the modest economic gains achieved and undermine efforts towards easing the pains Ghanaians have had to bear to support the on-going economic reform program under the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The GPCC would like to call on Government, and Ghanaians to ensure that the 2024 General Elections is not allowed to derail the rebuilding of the economy. The General Elections, should not lead to people being injured, maimed, or killed out of electoral violence. We implore the security agencies to be maintain high levels of professionalism and neutrality in the discharge of their mandate during the 2024 General Elections.
- The Media
GPCC calls on Media houses to maintain professionalism and to avoid remarks and commentaries that may incite people towards violence, or anything that would undermine our democracy. Owners of media houses should ensure that their media outlets are not used for divisive reportage or for news that would incite violence. Presenters and panelists of in-house programs should be temperate in their language.
The Council calls on the National Media Commission (NMC) to be prompt in addressing any unprofessional attitudes and activities of any media house that may derail or undermine the peace the country is enjoying.
- The Youth
The Council would like to urge the youth to consider exploring and tapping into the opportunities offered by Government to undergo vocational training leading to the acquisition of entrepreneurial and vocational skills through the Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) programmes. This avenue offers a decent start to life in different spheres.
The Council would like to caution the youth, not to allow themselves to become targets of electoral monetization, which has very short-term gains and promotes corruption in the society. The youth of Ghana should value the sanctity of life, and therefore not engage in acts that would lead to people being maimed and/or to election-related deaths.
- Religious Bodies
The GPCC calls on all religious bodies (Christians, Moslems, Traditional believe worshippers and all others) to play their respective roles in ensuring that peace and unity continue to prevail in the country, especially as the nation draws closer to the 2024 General Elections.
Our homes, churches, mosques, palaces, shrines and the wider community should be seen as platforms and avenues for preaching and engendering peace and unity in Ghana. Together we must be part of the solution, and not part of the problem.
We call on all and sundry to fervently and ceaselessly pray continually for our homeland Ghana. For in Ghana’s peace and prosperity also lies same for us as citizens.
It has been touted severally that the Fourth (4th) Republican Constitution of Ghana has seen the longest period of governance stability with visible socio-economic benefits as well as challenges. This assertion is to the credit of the entire nation. The GPCC Heads of Churches and Organizations conference congratulates Ghanaians for continued adherence to democratic governance virtues. However, we also recognize that democratic governance and its associated development benefits are unending processes that must be continually nurtured into maturity. We wish to commend the Government once again for her efforts at delivering economic stability and growth in challenging times. As our nation approaches the 2024 General Elections, it is obvious that the campaign temperature will also be rising with its associated challenges. We call on the Government and all organs and institutions of the State to work in tandem to ensure peace and cohesion of our country before, during and after the 2024 General Elections.
May God bless our homeland Ghana and make our nation great and strong.