As Ghanaians head to the polls today to elect candidates who will govern the country for the next four years, the most common term on their lips will likely be “dumsor”.
Dumsor is the term used by citizen of the resource-rich West African country to describe the acute power shortages that have recently plagued the country. Dumsor, which means off and on, is coined from the widely spoken Twi language in the country.
Incumbent president, John Mahama, 58, who is seeking a second term in office is up against veteran politician, Nana Akufo-Addo, 72, who is running for president for the third time.
In 2012, Mr. Akufo-Addo lost by three points to John Attah Mills in a keenly contested election. Mr. Mahama who was the vice president at the time took over leadership of the country after Mr. Mills died in office.
Whilst Mr. Mahama, who jocularly referred to himself as Mr. Dumsor, is facing intense criticism for the increasing power cuts and low economic growth, he has touted recently constructed mega infrastructural projects, such as the a flyover at the busy business district in Accra, the country’s capital, as his major achievement.
He also took credit for revamping the country’s sugar factory in the western region, which he claimed created 7,300 jobs and significantly cut the country’s sugar import.
But his National Democratic Congress (NDC) is plagued by series of corruption scandals. Twenty judges were recently sacked in connection with a widespread bribery scandal.
His government’s inability to retrieve 51.2 million cedis ($11.7 million) given to a party financier despite the country’s Supreme Court ruling that the payment was unconstitutional is another major issue that may blight his chances with voters.
Just like in 2012, pollsters are also predicting a close race in Wednesday’s election.
Ghana, which is often described as one of Africa’s successful democracies, has a history of close elections. The 15 million voters, who are eligible to cast their votes during the poll, are not expected to deviate from that tradition.
Mr. Akufo-Addo unsuccessfully contested the 2012 result and is already raising questions about the country’s electoral commission’s independence in this election.
“There’s a certain edginess to this election,” he said, “a decisive election will probably be the best result,” the New Patriotic Party (NPP) candidate said.
Tension was also on the rise during the campaign. The police said a supporter of the NPP was beaten to death and six others critically injured after clashes by supporters of rival parties on Monday in the north of the country.