The current brouhaha associated with the ongoing electoral reforms embarked on by the Jean Mensa-led EC is generating abhorrence among the major political stakeholders. The situation could become the single most rancorous political disagreement between the election management body and some of its main actors in our 28-year democratic journey as a country.Does Ghana really need a new electoral roll? The answer to this simple question is the bone of contention between the EC and some political parties. In the view of EC, the creation of a new electoral roll is indispensable in the delivery of free, fair and credible presidential and parliamentary elections in December 2020.
In contrast, the opposition NDC and its allies see the opposite of what the electoral management body is seeing. In the view of NDC, the moves to create an entirely new voters register is a scheme to favour the candidature of President Akufo-Addo, who is seeking re-election for a second term in office.
According to the opposition NDC, president Akufo-Addo performed abysmally with 14% over 600 manifesto promises and does not deserve retention in office for a second term. Again, a brigade of party people from the government side rebutted these assertions and rather scored the president with 70% success.
In the opinion of the Majority leader in Parliament, Honourable Kyei Mensah Bonsu, the president must be retained because of his administration's good policies and unprecedented achievements.
Again, the NDC charged the president of naked nepotism and unspeakable corruption, indicating the president's swift moves in allegedly defending guilty appointees and also failed to hold them accountable. In the estimation of Messrs Sammy Gyamfi and Felix Kwakye from the NDC's communication bureau, anything short of the president being shown the red card in December 2020 will exacerbate impunity and corruption in Ghana. These allegations and counter-allegations are adding crescendo to the election debate and stakes are high, pointing out that the battle for the Jubilee House this December will not be easy.
It is therefore not misplaced for the constitutionally empowered electoral management body vested with the powers under Article 45(a)(b)(c)(d)(e) and (f) and Article 46 of the 1992 Constitution, to keep its feet solidly on the ground.
Indeed, the EC calls for support to deliver an electoral verdict that will stand the test of scrutiny. According to the EC, the current voters roll is not credible and cannot guarantee free, fair and credible polls.
Therefore, unless otherwise directed by a court of competent jurisdiction, purging the existing voters register of ghost and unqualified names on it and compiling a new voters register is imperative and non-negotiable. Again, maintaining the existing register and upgrading the machines according to the EC is not cost-effective and will not cure the infestation of the register.
Interestingly, NPP communicators have joined the fray arguing more forcefully on why there must be a new register. This makes the EC’s work more difficult. Ironically, these bad traditional practices started since 1992, where political parties in power turn into EC mouthpieces whenever the Commission seeks to engage in any reforms. It is repugnant and must stop as it increases suspicion.
The EC, supported by the Majority in Parliament, has obtained CI 126. When the C.I. comes into law, it will put the final nail on the coffin on who qualifies for admission onto the voter’s roll – a Ghanaian passport holder and a registrant of the National Identification Card. The highly charged proceedings in Parliament that characterized the passage of C.I. 126 were purely sentimental in character, but democratic in outcome.
In the opinion of the NDC, these steps would rather disenfranchise many voters. They believe that cleaning the existing register as done by previous Commissions and adding young persons who attain 18years between the last elections and now will be the best way to go. Furthermore, the NDC thinks that the timing is not good to create a new register for an election with such high stakes.
Again, removing the old voter ID card or birth certificate from the required list of documents for admission onto the register will be a recipe for disaster. They concluded that the rigidity of the EC's posture is adding credence to their fear that the Commission is establishing the grounds to rig the election for president Akufo-Addo and that they will "resist it with their blood" according to a former minister in the previous NDC government.
Whatever the verdict of the Supreme Court may be on June 23, elections are won at the polling station.
Having said so, I believe our democracy is growing stronger and stronger and the Ghanaian people are the good judges of their own journey.