Ghana: Media play up energy issues, voters’ register, New Year message

Accra, Ghana (PANA) – Dramatic developments in the energy sector that culminated in the resignation of Power minister Kwabena Donkor and the rejection of demands by the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) for a new voters’ register before this year’s presidential and parliamentary elections were some of the stories highlighted by the Ghanaian media this week.

The media also played up President John Dramani Mahama’s end of year message.

As the self-imposed deadline by Dr Donkor to end load shedding by 31 December 2015 or resign approached, energy watchers said although significant steps had been taken, total load shedding could not be achieved by the deadline. It was left to see what would happen to the minister.

The drama started on Tuesday when William Amuna, chief executive officer of the state-owned bulk energy carrier, Ghana Grid Company (GRODCO), said there had not been any load shedding since the eve of Christmas.

"We have not been shedding load at all throughout the country. Virtually all the generation plants are operational. We even have one unit which we are not running now in Tema but we still have adequate supply," he said. However, he said, to say load shedding is over would be far-fetched.

Then on Wednesday, the Ministry of Power issued a statement saying the load shedding had ended.

“Load shedding ends!” was the headline of the state-owned Ghanaian Times.

It quoted the statement as saying the load shedding programme in respect of electricity supply had been brought to an end.

The statement expressed the Ministry’s “profound gratitude and appreciation to the entire citizenry and residents of Ghana for their forbearance and understanding during those difficult times”.

It gave the assurance that the ministry and its agencies “shall continue to pursue policies and programmes to consolidate the gains so far made in the generation and transmission of electricity for the country”.

The state-owned Graphic newspaper also had the headline, “Load shedding ends” saying the government had announced the end to load shedding that had tormented consumers and businesses for more than three years.

The newspaper recalled Dr Donkor as telling Parliament about a week earlier that barring any unforeseen difficulties, the power crisis would end by the second week of January 2016.

“Therefore the new development would come as a big relief to Dr Donkor and many people whose businesses and domestic activities have been affected by the load shedding.”

But on 31 December, the Load Management Committee in a statement explained that although significant gains had been made to end the crisis, the load shedding was not yet totally over.

The committee said "there remains residual milestones to attain before load shedding will be over".

Later on Thursday, Dr Donkor resigned.

“Confirmed! Dr Kwaneba Donkor resigns,” was the headline of a story on Graphic online.

It said the Power Minister tendered in his resignation to the Presidency on Thursday following a series of discussions at the Presidency on Wednesday over how he had handled the power crisis, one year after his appointment as sector Minister.

Graphic quoted sources within the energy sector as saying the Presidency was not happy about the Minister’s performance and therefore asked him to resign or be sacked by close of work on 31 December 2015.

Graphic online reported on Friday that President Mahama had accepted the resignation of Dr. Donkor and thanked him for his services as the pioneer minister for the new ministry carved out of the then Ministry of Energy and Petroleum.

“Go forward in 2016 with courage and not caution - Mahama's New Year message,” was the headline of Graphic online on President Mahama’s New Year message on Thursday night.

It reported that the President urged Ghanaians to move forward into the year 2016 with courage and not caution.

He said: “Just as each of us is greeting the New Year with the intention of constructive change and the expectation of exciting new possibilities in our personal lives, let us also greet it with the same intentions and expectations in the life of our nation and let us go forward in 2016 with courage and not caution, with optimism and a faith in our ability to achieve and succeed.”

President Mahama said his government would continue to listen to the concerns of Ghanaians and serve with the understanding that one of the hallmarks of Ghana’s democracy was the continuous communication between the people of the nation and their elected representatives.

“Ghana is not for one person or one political party. Ghana is not for some select group of people, Ghana is for all of us, for all our children. Ghana is for future generations,” President Mahama said.

“No new voters’ register - EC tells NPP, others,” was the headline of a story on the website of the Accra-based radio station, Joy FM.

It reported that a five-member panel set up by the Electoral Commission (EC) to review proposals for and against demands for a new voters’ register concluded that arguments for a new register were "unconvincing". It therefore did not recommend the replacement of the current register.

The opposition NPP claimed it had evidence suggesting the register had been compromised with as many as 76,000 non-Ghanaian voters on it. There were a number of pro-NPP demonstrations some of which turned violent.

A statement from the EC on Thursday said the panel was of the view that the responsibility for a clean and credible register was the shared responsibility of all citizens of Ghana.

“The Electoral Commission accepts the recommendations of the Panel and will progressively implement the recommendations made therein,” the EC said.

It added that the Commission would continue to engage stakeholders to ensure that a clean and credible voters’ register was in place for the 2016 general elections through an inclusive and collaborative audit process.
-0- PANA MA/AR 2Jan2016

02 january 2016 08:38:13




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