To ensure all citizens in Ghana enjoy social equality, the drafters of our fourth republican constitution and all who contributed to its drafting emphasized on the importance of building strong democratic institutions.
In today’s Ghana, those democratic institutions are under systematic assault. Look at the state of our judiciary, the electoral commission, our police etc. With 2020 election fast approaching, this does not bode well for our democratic practices that have a root over years with sacrifices. When institutions become cheerleaders, political leaders themselves become institutions and that is what we witnessing in Ghana today.
Undoubtedly, Ghana is going through extraordinary times. Never in the history of our fourth republic has institutions of state surrendered without a fight, as we seeing today. In the past three years, there has been a radical break from the past working style of apolitical institutions, such as the central bank, the Bureau of National Investigation, the Electoral Commission, the police service. These institutions have become appendages and conduits of government and fighting within and alongside the incumbent.
To the disbelief of Ghanaians, the Electoral Commission is no exception to this. There are enough empirical grounds to lend support to the argument that the Electoral Commission is not only failing the test of being vital to electoral democracy, but is also dashing the hopes of millions of Ghanaians who trust it to conduct free and fair elections, as constitutionally mandated. Will the EC’s integrity be intact when stakeholders are not allowed to express dissent?
The EC must learn that the freeness and fairness of elections are measured by electoral rules, regulations, and their fair application as well as the impeccability, autonomy and effectiveness of the institutions conducting the elections. This is not only be claimed but publicly reflected. Free and fair elections are not only the foundation stone of constitutional philosophy but also a basic structure of the constitution, as our noble justices reiterated during the election petition trial.
It is not beyond the realm of possibility that the credibility and integrity of the Electoral Commission can be compromised. That is why all stakeholders, civil society organizations, the Christian council, our Imams, social commentators, the academia must courageously condemn any nefarious act by the EC or the incumbent to give the latter undue advantage over its competitors. Elections experts, civil society organizations and some stakeholders have expressed their anguish that the electoral commission which has had a long and honourable record of holding free and fair elections despite the enormous challenges of scale and complexities, is suffering from a crisis of credibility today. The Electoral Commission’s independence, fairness, impartiality and efficiency are perceived to be compromised under the current leadership, thereby endangering the integrity of the electoral process which is the very foundation of our democracy. What Jean Mensah and her subordinates should know is that, any erosion in the people’s confidence in the fairness of the EC has very grave consequences for the future of our democracy and I hope the gravity of the situation will be appreciated by Jean and her team.
Jean Mensah and her collaborators should read Ecowas protocol on Democracy and Good Governance which Ghana is a signatory to. Article 2(1) States; “No substantial modification shall be made to the Electoral law in the last six (6) months before elections, except with the consent of majority of political actors”. Yes, LAW was mentioned but this particular article encompasses all core principles guiding elections including registration of voters.
Article 3 states- ” The bodies responsible for organising the elections shall be independent or neutral and shall have the confidence of all the political actors. Where necessary, appropriate national consultation shall be organised to determine the nature and the structure of the bodies”. This article rubbishes the argument being pushed by the ruling party and it’s propagandists that the EC is an independent body so reserves the right to implement its policies and decisions even if they are not popular
Article 5 states that – “The voters list shall be prepared in a transparent and reliable manner, with the collaboration of the political parties and voters who may have access to them whenever the need arises”. This article also support the minority parties, civil society organizations and individuals challenging the decision to compile a new register.
Article 8 states that- ” Member States shall use the services of civil society organizations involved in electoral matters to educate and enlighten the public on the need for peaceful elections devoid of all acts of violence”. This is exactly what the CDD, and other CSO’s are doing- advising the EC to reconsider its decision to compile new register.
Efforts to detect and prevent fraud might address one area of malpractice, but perpetrators are constantly shifting tactics hence the need to be extra vigilant and making sure that implementation of negative plans are curbed.
I am still struggling to understand why our pastors and other opinion leaders are quiet over these wide range of illegal, illicit and dangerous practices and plans designed to influence the outcome of the 2020 election. The only thing which can destroy beyond repairs this beautiful democracy is election rigging.
The President has promoted some Judges, packed the supreme court, promoted some service (police) personnel and all that- yes, it is his constitutional right to do that but we know what leaders can so with compromised state institutions. The police, armed forces and all other State institutions must be apolitical and it is captured in Ecowas’s protocol.