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General News of Thursday, 21 May 2020

Source: www.ghanaweb.com

No use compiling voters' register if Ghanaians don’t feel safe – Gyampo cautions

Outspoken Associate Professor of political science at the University of Ghana, Prof Ransford Gyampo has sounded a word of caution regarding the compilation of a new voters' register by the country’s electioneering institution.

The Electoral Commission remains adamant about compiling a new voters’ register, a position which has generated a national debate with both divides of the country’s main political parties on opposing sides of the table.

The main opposition party has held a series of demonstrations to register their displeasure at the Electoral Commission’s decision to collate a new voters' register.

Among other things, they argue that the electoral roll is the same one which was used to vote the incumbent president and his predecessor into power and thus shows that it is sacrosanct.

They also allege that the NPP-led government are pushing for a new register because they want to rig the 2020 elections which hang in the balance due to the fast-spreading Coronavirus.

The voter registration exercise which was first scheduled to begin on April 18 this year was suspended due to COVID-19. The Electoral Commission said it was collaborating with health experts to decide on a more favourable date depending on the prevalence rate of the Coronavirus.

On May, 21, however, the institution released some 6 key measures it said it will put in place during the compilation of a new electoral roll as well as the December 2020 polls.

But Prof Ransford Gyampo believes no matter the safety protocols put in place, Ghanaians may never feel safe enough to come out in their numbers to partake in the exercise, let alone, vote in December.

In a 12-point statement copied to GhanaWeb, the political science lecturer posited that authorities should not be misled by several people’s defying of the lockdown directive to mean they would come in their numbers to participate in the voters' registration exercise.

He explained that the quest for survival supersedes the fear of the Coronavirus hence putting in safety protocols for the exercise will not yield the desired results.

“Many defied the ban on social gatherings and went to the markets and other city centers purely for economic bread and butter reasons. Voter registration may not have a direct correlation with bread and butter matters. More importantly, hunger and economic issues are more potent variables that defy fear, compared to civic and political variables. In other words, the fact that large numbers of Ghanaians were found on the streets and at the markets, during our partial lockdown, does not necessarily mean people may turn out to register. What pushed people into defying the fear of contracting COVID-19, during the partial lockdown, was purely economic reasons. Unless we share money at the various registration centers, there will be no direct economic variables that will make people defy the fear of contracting COVID-19, to go and register,” Part of the statement read.



“Even if Ghana is declared COVID- free today, our public gatherings and the way we relate with each other, will still be saddled with some fear, and people may avoid potential gatherings that may make them susceptible to infections. This fear, which has a reasonable potency to dissuade some Ghanaians from actively participating in public gatherings, will not vanish simply because there is a voter registration exercise. This is a palpable reality that must engage the attention of stakeholders involved in the discourse on the compilation of a new register. Our cases of COVID-19 continue to rise. The numbers aren’t coming down and the morbid fear of contracting the disease, during this current regime of restrictions entertained by some Ghanaians, is real.”

The solution, he admonishes will be to deal with the COVID-19 phobia before the exercise can be successful, rather than the political banter being observed by Ghanaians presently.

Read Prof Gyampo’s full statement below:


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