Thursday, 30 August 2012

Does age really matter in elections?

The BBC has brought to all of our attention the fact that of the 13 heads of state to die in the past 4 years, 10 have been African. A couple were killed, but most of them died from the general expiration of their bodies, most likely due to their old age. Remember Africa's life expectancy is not very high.

Since the death of President Atta Mills last month, the NDC have been working tirelessly to sell President John Dramani Mahama to the people. After all, we know what type of President Atta Mills would have been going into a second term, but his successor hasn't quite built an image to relate to and sympathy votes just won't do.

According to this article the NDC are therefore playing the age card. John Dramani Mahama is 15 years younger than Nana Akufo-Addo. Given that Atta Mills, Akufo-Addo's classmate didn't reach the end of his tenure Ghanaians are justifiably cautious of falling into the same situation as this summer. However, the election for Presidency is not an individual one, it's a team event for two people and the communications teams of both parties need to present the facts to the people and allow them to have a more informed debate and a better informed decision come election time. The average age of the NDC ticket by election day will be 57 and 58 for the NPP. One year difference. When presented like that, the age discussion seems quite redundant and we are then able to consider other benefits and disadvantages of both teams. Ghanaians, like most Africans, respect the wealth of knowledge that our elderly members of society possess. There is a saying

"The death of an old man is like a library set ablaze" - Unknown

Yet, at the moment I don't believe this is a saying that any African leader can use in his favour over a younger opponent.

Given that both major parties are practically equal in age, Ghanaians must not be swayed by irrelevancies, like dust in the eye thrown out by propaganda machines. Ghanaians must think about whose ideology they agree with, and whose promises they are drawn to. Real democracy is presenting the people with options for their future, and their children's future and letting them decide, it is not cynically making mountains out of mole hills on things we cannot change - like the fact that we are ALL getting older.

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