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'NDC primaries a mockery of Ghana's democracy'

Thu, 26 Nov 2015 Source: starrfmonline.com

The National Women’s Organiser of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) Otiko Djaba has ridiculed the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) for organising a primaries she best described as “a sham and a mockery of democracy.”

The ruling Umbrella clan organised internal polls over the weekend to elect parliamentary candidates and endorsed sitting President John Mahama with a 95% votes to lead them into the 2016 elections.

The presidential and parliamentary primaries were marred by pockets of violence leading to the suspension of the polls in some constituencies until the following day.

Touching on the primaries in an article, the women’s organiser of the Elephant kinfolk said: “The list of irregularities from defeated and winning aspirants is an indictment on the NDC and President Mahama. Warning the aggrieved aspirants who want to go to court with punitive measures is an infringement of their rights.

“Widespread allegations of interference of NDC Party bigwigs and the President for some aspirants to lose is also a blow to our democracy. Why should the NDC biometric voter register be full of so many flaws? Why and how could so many NDC card bearing members not find their names in the compiled voter registers? Why and how were names of candidates and their supporters expunged from the registers? These deliberate machinations and ploys to disenfranchise their own members are worrying for the country and this should be considered as a threat for election 2016.”

Below is her full article:

The NDC Party parliamentary and presidential primaries, claimed by them to be a giant leap for democracy, were but a sham and a mockery of democracy. Their self-congratulations for achieving a ‘one man one vote’ internal election is like the story of the lizard who climbed the Iroko tree and said that “if nobody will praise me I will praise myself”. It is for the observers to assess and evaluate and not for self-accolades. Because the facts about serious electoral malpractices, violation of rights to vote, lack of transparency, bribery for votes, intimidation, vandalising of electoral materials, violence, and the like, speak otherwise. In Madina Francis Xavier Sosu was challenging the register as well as Prince Derrick Oduro and others in Ablekuma South. In Akwatia National Security officers had to intervene to stem the violence. The NDC Director of elections, Samuel Ofosu Ampofo is on record saying that 14 constituencies would not vote because of violence and logistical constraints. Elections are serious pillars for democracy to thrive and how they are conducted should be free and fair. Taking the handling of the 2012 elections that were disputed in the Supreme Court into consideration, the ruling NDC Party, in their preparations towards the next election should be mindful that their primaries would be regarded as a dress rehearsal. So if these NDC primaries are seen as a test run for the 2016 general election in Ghana then we are in troubles they have missed an opportunity to deepen and strengthen our democracy.

In Ningo-Prampam Sam George, ET Mensah’s contender alleged that the register had been tampered with and that an additional 2000 names were pen written in Afienya who were not on the original biometric list. Some voters in Tema West Constituency could not find their names on the voters register. In Suame in Ashanti Region allegations of the register being bloated with names of NPP members raised tension which resulted in the need for heavy security presence. In Nanton in the Northern Region a person was arrested for snatching a ballot box at a polling station. Even in the run up to their primaries, stories of cutlass fights, fist fights and the like ran rampant. It was reported in Graphic online of a free-for-all fight during the NDC parliamentary vetting in the Coordinating Council in Ashanti Region. The NDC does not want the world to know how bad their internal affairs are. However, the cover up, forcing journalists and members to delete pictures of their fights and forcing people to remain tight lipped about the negative happenings before, during and after these primaries is a perpetuation of the culture of silence, suppression of the will of people and a threat to our democracy. These examples of electoral malpractices that confronted the NDC in their parliamentary and presidential primaries are what they could not prevent the world from knowing. One can only wonder about the quantum of all the hidden and silent malpractices that have been suppressed and withheld from the public.

How can a parliamentary aspirant not find her name on the party’s register as happened to Dr Zenator Rawlings of Korle Klottey who was not allowed to vote but won? If her name was not in the register did it mean that she is not a card bearing member of the NDC? How then could she be a candidate, be voted for and declared the winner? In Bole Bamboi, the main contender Dr Nuhu and many of his supporters could also not find their names in the register because they had been deliberately removed, and so were not allowed to vote. That is one candidate too many who could not find their names in their voter register. Is this not a violation of their right to vote? At Akatsi South many card bearing members of the NDC could also not find their names on the voter’s register so could not vote. In Kumbungu it is reported that some 300 names in the register should not have been there. Claims that they were NPP members are a poor excuse for their failure to protect the integrity of their voter register. In Ellembelle constituency many delegates who turned up to vote were denied their right to vote because their names were not found in the voters register. Meanwhile many others whose names were not in the register were allowed to vote. How did the registers become so compromised? The NDC needs to investigate how some of their registers were compiled with all these flaws.

President Mahama’s statement that he was “...voting to strengthen democracy in NDC ………for a transparent process to select Ghana’s political leaders. I’m voting for inclusiveness and equality, and for empowering those who would otherwise be powerless. I’m voting because I believe in all of you” is rendered redundant by the above mentioned examples. Even in Bole where the President hails from and voted; his statement was superfluous because the main contender Dr Nuhu and his supporter’s names were excluded from the voters register and so could not vote. Perhaps Dr Nuhu could have won without these deliberate machinations. Where was their “inclusiveness and equality”? They were thus rendered powerless because the system was not “transparent”. Were there two voter registers; one for the powerful and one for the powerless? Sam George, aide to President Mahama’s statement that he could have won with a wider margin if the voter’s register had been changed and that he allowed the election to proceed with a “compromised register” also makes rubbish of President Mahama’s statement. The allegations of attacks by both ET Mensah and Sam George which forced the election in Ningo-Prampram to be suspended were the reality. The reported malpractices in these internal elections of the ruling NDC Party are one too many and do not demonstrate free and fair elections. The deliberate and undemocratic attempts to manipulate the outcomes in the various constituencies mentioned should not be lost to observers and the Electoral Commission. The NDC should stop playing the ostrich and throwing dust into the eyes of Ghanaians, so that the general election in 2016 will not be jeopardised by similar malpractices.

Are we to disregard the acts of violence and chaos demonstrated with machete, stone and club wielding members to intimidate opponents? Are we to discount how non-NDC members found their names on their electoral roll, especially when some Ghanaians are questioning the integrity of Ghana’s voter register because of the presence of non-Ghanaians? Perchance is this not similar to how non-Ghanaians got onto the country’s voter register? The allegations of violence in Bole, Cape Coast, Tepa, Kumbungu and Sagnerigu to mention a few, beating some aspirants and their supporters, vandalising electoral materials, burning registers, snatching ballot boxes in Ejura and Nanton, destroying ballot boxes, impersonating security personnel as in Bole where soldiers arrested 2 persons, attacks on journalists, late arrival of election materials, shortage of voting materials and vote buying cannot be swept under the carpet.

Monocracy to influence votes was rampant as confirmed by the former deputy minister at the Ministry of Gender and Social Protection MP Rachel Appoh, who revealed that she had to pay her constituents in Gomoa Central, to reduce the ” No” votes against President Mahama. Why should she have to pay cash for people to vote ‘Yes’ for the President? Vote buying and its implications are unhealthy for democracy and should be discouraged. The onus of leading by example rests with the President. But for the vote buying and intimidation there could have been a truer demonstration of the will of the people.

Why was the President’s plea to delegates for a 100% not heeded and if the NDC tolerates dissent as per the tenets of democracy why did they not allow other people to contest? Why did they demonise George Boateng and why did leading NDC members warn of punitive measures against anyone who voted against President Mahama? The rejection of President Mahama, who went unopposed, by over 61,836 card bearing NDC delegates is significant and frightening for the NDC in spite of their attempts to downplay it. That the highest “no votes” came from his home Northern Region (10,190 with 990 from Bole) and the Volta (7,811) is seriously embarrassing.

Their undemocratic machinations towards prospective members who wished to oppose President Mahama displayed NDCs true colours. There were even allegations of insanity levelled against George Boateng who was their former Oyarifa branch youth organiser. Was he insane when he was their youth organiser? The party refused to accept his nomination forms and sacked their administrative officer for receiving his forms, thereby suppressing the right of anyone else who thought of daring to challenge President Mahama. This is a violation of the rights of people to contest in elections. That is why it is so disturbing that his own Party members would vote against their sitting President Mahama in their internal elections. Why should anyone direct members not to vote ‘No’ if all is well and even those directives are worrying for our democracy. As he went unopposed the 4.9% represents the protest votes of NDC card bearing members who freely voted according to their conscience against President Mahama. The attempt to downplay and or cover up these disturbing electoral malpractices with self-accolades is a sign of desperation at its worse. Insulting their own members by claiming the” no votes” for the unopposed President Mahama were from illiterates and NPP is a shame and no excuse for the mockery the NDC has made of democracy. The reality is that those are NDC members who are just fed up with President Mahama. The propaganda that all is well in the NDC and in Ghana is false and that change is needed.

The list of irregularities from defeated and winning aspirants is an indictment on the NDC and President Mahama. Warning the aggrieved aspirants who want to go to court with punitive measures is an infringement of their rights. Widespread allegations of interference of NDC Party bigwigs and the President for some aspirants to lose is also a blow to our democracy. Why should the NDC biometric voter register be full of so many flaws? Why and how could so many NDC card bearing members not find their names in the compiled voter registers? Why and how were names of candidates and their supporters expunged from the registers? These deliberate machinations and ploys to disenfranchise their own members are worrying for the country and this should be considered as a threat for election 2016.

FROM OTIKO AFISAH DJABA

NPP NATIONAL WOMEN ORGANISER

Source: starrfmonline.com