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Opinions Tue, 8 Mar 2016

Zanetor’s eligibility is a big deal, Mr. Ephson!

It is almost certain that the Accra High Court judge hearing the case against Dr. Zanetor Rawlings, regarding the fact of her not having been registered as a bona fide member of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), at the time that she contested and won the party’s parliamentary election in the Klottey-Korley Constituency, last year, will hand down a verdict nullifying the validity of the victory of the eldest daughter of Chairman Jerry John Rawlings.

And so it is rather risible to hear Mr. Ben Ephson, editor-publisher of the so-called Daily Dispatch newspaper cavalierly assert that Dr. Rawlings’ flagrant violation of both party and election rules is not a big deal (See “Zanetor’s Eligibility Not a Big Deal – Ephson” Kasapafmonline.com / Modernghana.com 3/3/16).

I have said this before and hereby repeat the same, that as a thirty-something-year-old mother and former conjugal partner or common-law wife of Mr. Herbert Mensah, the former Chairman of the Kumasi Asante Kotoko Soccer Club, Dr. Rawlings was a full-fledged adult when she made the decision to contest the Klottey-Korle parliamentary seat.

If as a fully qualified medical doctor she did not understand the basic civic responsibility of registering as a member of any political party in order to be able to legitimately contest a seat on the ticket of any particular party, then, of course, she has absolutely no business presuming to represent the people of the Klottey-Korle Constituency.

The fact that the Electoral Commission (EC) is scheduled to embark on a limited voters’ registration exercise, has absolutely no relevance to Dr. Rawlings’ case. For one, the limited registration exercise is primarily, though not exclusively, meant for late teenagers who may be registering to vote for the first time in Election 2016.

What is also clear is that Dr. Rawlings decided to ride on the wave of the considerable influence and popularity of her father, former President Rawlings, rather than strictly and humbly following the standing rules of the party she claims to have been a registered member of since she became eligible to vote in the country.

If the court nullifies her parliamentary primary win, Dr. Rawlings should still be punitively disqualified from contesting in any parliamentary primary rerun to serve as a condign deterrent.

In brief, she ought to be told in no uncertain terms that the mere fact of her father’s having politically established himself as an impudent transgressor, or respecter of no rules, whatsoever, does not automatically translate into her inalienable right to do the same.

Needless to say, ours is a democratic era that has absolutely no tolerance for scofflaws. I know full well that the NDC is a party of scofflaws, but it would still be morally refreshing if the party’s key operatives realized that a democratic dispensation also demands utmost respect for and observation of disciplinary rules.

Dr. Rawlings ought to be made to stew in her own proverbial brine, at least for the next four years before she is allowed back into the mainstream of party life and the swing of things, as it were. She must earn her keep like everyone else.

Columnist: Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.