2020 CIVIL SOCIETY SUSTAINABILITY INDEX REPORT - GHANA
Ghana’s political scene was polarized in 2020, with frequent hostilities erupting between the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the main opposition party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC). A major controversy was the Electoral Commission’s proposal to compile a new voter register, which CSOs and the NDC opposed as a waste of resources. In cooperation with a private citizen, the NDC filed a suit with the Supreme Court to restrain the Electoral Commission from excluding birth certificates and old voter identification cards as proof of citizenship by applicants to vote. A group of CSOs also opposed the proposal, but their attempt to join the case was quashed by the court. In its ruling, the Supreme Court affirmed the Electoral Commission’s jurisdiction to compile a new register as proposed.
Before presidential and parliamentary elections on December 7, the Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG) collaborated with the Office of the National Chief Imam of Ghana, National Peace Council, and National House of Chiefs to urge presidential candidates to pledge themselves to peaceful conduct. CSOs, faith-based organizations, traditional authorities, and other groups rallied to ensure a peaceful election. The voting process went smoothly at most polling centers, although the declaration of the final election results aroused violence in some constituencies, leading to eight deaths. The incumbent president, Nana Akufo-Addo, was re-elected to a second four-year term, while the parliamentary contest yielded a stalemate of 137 seats to both the NPP and the NDC. The NDC presidential candidate filed a petition with the Supreme Court challenging his opponent’s win, and the suit was still pending at the end of the year.
After Ghana recorded its first case of COVID-19 in March, the government introduced containment measures to manage the spread of the virus. These measures included emergency powers for the president, which he used to close land and air borders and impose lockdowns in Accra, the capital, as well as adjoining towns and parts of Kumasi. Schools were shut for most of the year, with only final-year classes resuming in the third and fourth quarters so that students could complete their studies. The public generally complied with pandemic restrictions. To cushion the harsh impact of the measures, the government set up the COVID-19 Impact Alleviation Program, which funded services such as the delivery of food to people in deprived communities and the provision of free water and electricity. CSOs were significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions. Many CSOs worked remotely, while others had to shut down temporarily. Some donors cancelled projects or imposed restrictions on the use of already committed funds. Despite these setbacks, CSOs continued to contribute to the country's political, social, and economic development, including the elections and pandemic response. The STAR–Ghana Foundation launched a COVID