Acting General Secretary of the Convention Peoples Party (CPP) James Kwabena Bomfeh, alias “Kabila” says the Electoral Commission of Ghana has made a solid case or a new Biometric Voter Management System, (BVMS) adding that persons who hold contrary views should come up with a superior alternative.“Let those with direct superior alternatives raise them and manage what is said as well as how it is said. Otherwise, let all democracy lovers endorse and support the EC for this initiative, Mr. Bomfeh, who is also Director of Elections for the CPP said in a statement.
Some Ghanaians including the largest opposition party, the NDC and some pressure groups have kicked against the EC’s decision to compile a new voter’s register, saying the move is a complete waste of the country’s resources. The NDC has embarked on several protests to register its displeasure with the process.
However, the CPP scribe believes it unnecessary for persons who are against the compilation of a new register to engage in fruitless agitations and resistance instead of embracing dialogue.
“We have had the longest surviving Constitution since independence though problematic and controversial. The People of Ghana have shown the highest level of tolerance for this democratic dispensation and that must be respected. The EMB has put a case across justifying their programme for a new BVMS.
"Let us discuss the issues they have raised to enrich them rather than the attitude of trying to shoot down every point just so we can give reasons for resistance. Nothing good or worth doing has been done without resistance. Resistance naturally, is supposed to enrich and strengthen, but NOT suffocate to kill,” he said.
According to the EC, there are so many challenges with the old BVR system and that upgrading it will cost the country more. The EC argues that none of the IT staff at the commission were trained on the BVMS and that it (EC) was completely reliant on the vendor for the management of the system. Simply put the commission was “vendor locked-in.”
It further explained that the application server used for the online VMS was limited by allowing only 200 concurrent connections, adding that the EC has some 260 district offices nationwide each with at least 2 MVMS machines. This had hampered the online registration process significantly during the just ended limited registration exercise. The EC said with the old system, there was no business continuity or an IT disaster recovery plan.
Mr. Bomfeh maintained that the country needs a new voters register and that these challenges have led to system crashes at crucial times. “They have led to missing crucial data which had to be recovered with capital intensive manual work. They have inadvertently led or returned us to manual verification and high human judgments which the introduction of biometrics was aimed at minimizing to the barest if not eliminating entirely. The stakes will be too high to risk in a general election,” he said.
Below is the full statement:
Of the EC, BVMS and Resistance
“A wrong analysis of events, and of history and circumstances have always led to the wrong or misled conclusions such as leading society to blame the robbed instead of the robber; or the victim rather than the perpetrator.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jnr.
INTRODUCTION AND DISCLAIMER
Ghana’s public space has been occupied in recent times with lots of talk about the Election Management Body, EMB, Electoral Commission, EC and the Commission’s programme to contract a new Vendor for a new Biometric Voter Management System, BVMS. In this article, a disclaimer is hereby issued from the onset that the views expressed in this piece are entirely mine and NOT reflective of the position of the Convention People’s Party of which I act as the Chief Scribe (Acting General Secretary) since October, 2018 and Director of Elections since 2011. It is hoped that this piece helps in dealing with some resistance claims for closure.
On December 23, 2019 the EC wrote under the hand of the Deputy Chair (Corporate Services) to all Political Parties who are members of the Inter Party Advisory Committee, IPAC detailing a justification for their programme to acquire a new BVMS.
It was a seven-page document which highlighted the history of the EC’s adoption of BVMS from 2012 to date, the challenges suffered thus far, and the necessity for a new BVMS.
Historically, the authority and mandate of Ghana’s Electoral Commission have been exercised under Articles 43, 44, 45, 46 and the Electoral Commission Act, 1993; Act 451 since 1993 with limited or no use of technology. This meant that the EC relied mostly on human judgements which were susceptible to manipulations and abuses thereby questioning the integrity of election outcomes. Elections are organized on the principle of ONE PERSON – ONE VOTE.
But, without technology and solely relying on the human factor, this sacred principle was trite betrayed. Once individuals could register in multiples and stay on the register in multiple terms, automatically there could be multiple voting by same persons or a misrepresentation or identity swap voting. This had to give way for something better and reliably credible.
After the 2008 elections which travelled an extended three rounds, only for the winner (late President JEA Mills) to emerge with about 40,000 votes difference win, individuals and civil society organizations, CSOs began a conversation about technology as an enabler that could help solve the perennial controversies over voter identity.
With reluctance and tags (attacks) of ‘intransigence’ the Chairman of the Commission then, Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan caved in to employing technology. Thus BVMS was born in and around 2012. My records show that the EC signed the contract with the Vendor, SuperLock Technology Limited, STL in December, 2011.
Political Parties however became fully aware of the Vendor in March, 2012. This was when the Biometric Registration was to begin and ended in May, 2012 towards the compilation of the first (time) Biometric Voter Register for Ghana.
Writer: James Kwabena Bomfeh Jnr.