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General News of Thursday, 20 December 2012

Source: myjoyonline

Our political system is dangerous to Ghana’s future - PPP

The Progressive People’s Party has called for constitutional and electoral reforms to improve all aspects of governance architecture.

According to a release issued by the PPP on Thursday; “The current, neo-patrimonial political system, based largely on patronage portends a real danger for this country’s future”.

The release also recommended that the EC moved to a fully electronic voting system similar to those found in countries such as Brazil and Mexico.

Read the full statement issued by the PPP.


Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Progressive People’s Party (PPP) believes that there is an urgent need for Ghanaians from all walks of life – political parties, religious and business leaders, all types of civil society organizations to join together with us to call for strong measures to ensure the full implementation of the Political Parties Law and seek reform of the process and systems used to conduct elections in this country. Our purpose is to ensure the restoration of the credibility and integrity of the Electoral Commission and its systems.

The PPP wants the people Ghana to know that all is not well with the systems and processes used for elections in this country. This was our first election as a political party and we owe it a duty to Ghanaians and ourselves to point out problems and challenges we encountered so that the nation can learn and take corrective actions where needed. We must know that when it comes to the conduct of public elections, there are serious implications regarding our collective inertia to embrace reforms in our electoral system for the future of this country. 
Ladies and Gentlemen.

The 2012 elections have confirmed that the PPP is independent in its principles, thoughts and actions. We have come onto the political scene to provide Ghanaians with an alternative to the NDC and the NPP. We do not work for either, neither do we speak for any of those two parties. So no one should misconstrue any actions we take to mean that we are part of any one of those two parties. Our goal is to work hard to deserve the opportunity given by the Ghanaian electorate to win more votes than the NPP and the NDC. In this, we have a duty to offer very active, vigorous opposition to the party in power which today happens to be the NDC. 

We subscribe to the progressive ideology which makes it imperative for us to demonstrate to Ghanaians that we have something better than the social democrat and property owning ideologies of the NDC and the NPP.

Ladies and Gentlemen.

We embarked upon an aggressive 2012 campaign with three objectives:
1. to win the mandate of the people of Ghana at the presidential level
2. to have progressive and independent-minded members elected into parliament to give effect to our constitutional reform agenda and 
3. to establish an independent political alternative to the NPP and the NDC. 

The PPP registered results in the 2012 presidential and parliamentary elections as declared by the Electoral Commission that fell significantly below our expectations. However, we have greatly succeeded to establish a progressive, independent, united, respectful political party that has positioned itself as the only credible alternative to the NPP and the NDC.

The immediate concern of the PPP after the declaration of the results by the Electoral Commission is not to contest the results but as major stakeholder, we have decided to bring to the attention of the people of Ghana problems and challenges before, during and after the elections to avoid the clear and present danger of this country being torn apart and, God forbid, Ghana becoming a One-Party State. 
Ladies and Gentlemen,

The 2012 elections were not free and fair. Free and fair elections do not take place only on Election Day. The process leading up to the elections had been marred with abuse of incumbency, intimidation, vote buying and finally wrongful manipulation of election results by officials of the Electoral Commission. Collectively these abuses skewed the election in favour of the NDC. The PPP had on a number of occasions given strong statements on the blatant abuse of incumbency by the NDC and President Mahama. The President used state resources, resources that should be for all Ghanaians, for partisan campaign. This misuse of funds is why we cannot achieve accelerated development and is why Ghanaians need the PPP to champion the cause of Incorruptible Leadership. And I quote:

“Ghana’s political system combines competitive elections with what social scientists have called neo-patrimonial rule. The principal democracy and governance problem we identify in this report is the excessive concentration of political power in the executive branch. The powers of the president dwarf those of the other branches of government. The president in Ghana possesses vast political and economic re-sources that he can employ to secure political support.

Electoral competition is the only real check on executive dominance, as the opposition party will work to win power, often at almost any cost. But although both major political parties, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP), accept the legitimacy of the rules that govern politics in Ghana, these rules have serious flaws. The elite consensus among political parties is an agreement to maintain the status quo, regardless of its increasingly negative impact on democratic practice and good governance, because it offers a clear path to gaining power and thus access to the vast network of state resources.” (Democratic Institute, August 2012)

In line with this status quo, President Mahama and the NDC in 2012 have demonstrated their insensitivity to all the concerns expressed by political parties, religious leaders and civil society organizations in general about the abuse of incumbency. The NDC designed and executed a disingenuous press tour to introduce John Mahama to the people. They dressed this political campaign up as a “thank you tour” after the funeral of our late President, Professor John Atta Mills. There were huge billboards of John Mahama and former president Prof. Atta-Mills put up to promote and give advantage to the candidacy of the former in the 2012 elections. Who was paid for those billboards? Was it at the expense of the tax payer? Not too long ago, there were documents produced in the media about foreign companies making contributions to the NDC campaign. The NDC used LESDEP and other state organizations to deliver laptops, sewing machines, outboard motors, etc, in some cases on the night before elections, to influence thousands and thousands of people to become their supporters and vote for their candidates. The NDC campaign was visibly fueled through vehicles and state support structures. 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In addition to these systematic abuses of incumbency which mar the integrity of the December 7th 2012 polls, the PPP has concluded that the results of the 2012 Polls do not reflect the will of the people. The figures released by the EC are inaccurate and, in demonstrable cases, fraudulent. If we continue to focus our attention on the outcome of the elections as opposed to the integrity of the process of running elections, the will of the people will continue to be perverted. The very essence of our fragile democracy will remain at serious risk of collapse. 

The following presents documented cases of attempted and successful electoral fraud in the 2012 Elections. We have chosen only these two out of several constituencies such as Cape Coast North and Ajumako-Enyan-Essiam where electoral fraud was caught after the fact.

Assin South. This is a case of the attempted theft of 1,000 Votes: 
Stephen Kofi Baidoo, PPP Parliamentary Candidate for Assin South, was nearly a victim of SEVERE electoral fraud at the Collation Center for Assin South. While he was not present, individuals at the Collation Center at Assin South took the opportunity to lower his tabulated votes from 1,344 to 131! This was a fraudulent reduction of over 1,000 votes. Luckily, Stephen managed to get to the Collation Center and order a recount after the lower number was announced. On the other hand, he was not allowed to order a recount for the Presidential PPP votes counted at Assin South. A picture clearly showing the attempted theft will be provided to the media. 

KEEA - This is an alarming case of the successful theft of 2 entire Polling Stations representing 1,000 Votes & Simply Inaccurate Collation of the Red Sheets from the various polling stations: The story of KEEA in the 2012 elections is a text-book case of why we need immediate REFORM, REFORM, REFORM of our Electoral Process. At the KEEA Collation Center, individuals successfully conspired to exclude two polling stations where the Presidential Results were favorable to the PPP and the NPP. Additionally, an audit of the Red Sheets from the KEEA polling stations is showing that the collated results from which the 1,000 votes were stolen were also wildly inaccurate. 

The critical matter at hand, however, is the incontrovertible fact that serious Electoral Fraud, the kind that has a material effect on the results of the National Polls and casts serious doubt on the entire electoral process, occurred in KEEA. Individuals at the KEEA Collation Center ingeniously used a simple modification to the formulas used to tabulate the results from each Polling Station to erase two Polling Stations from the total. They subtracted the two rows from the formula. Due to this evil trick, a vigilant party agent would see the Polling Stations on the Spreadsheet, however, the numbers would be absent from the total. As a result, the following Polling Stations were stolen from the total for KEEA: 1) TRAD.COUNCIL HALL BERASE EAST- CODE B012601 and 2) M/A PRI.SCH.ANKAASE WEST – CODE B012703 – Representing 1,000 votes omitted from the total, the majority of which were favorable to PPP and NPP. Given the fact that there were only 16 polling stations that were detrimental to the Party that “won” KEEA, there was only a 1.3% chance that the two polling stations that were omitted would have been omitted by accident. These omissions were intentional!

While the EC has said that elections are won and lost at the Polling Stations, and that the political parties must be vigilant, the truth of the matter is that despite the vigilance of Polling Station Agents and representatives at Collation Centers, our system is full of holes which allow individuals to cheat even the most vigilant of Presidential and Parliamentary Candidates. 

The will of the people has been prevented. These are just two of many cases of attempted and successful Electoral Fraud in the 2012 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections. Furthermore, our ongoing audit of results is showing that on the whole, the total results reported by the EC are simply inaccurate. So even though we have evidence of stealing that led to results that favored one party, the bigger issue is that the results on the whole do not accurately reflect the People’s Will. The People’s Will has been perverted by an ineffective electoral process. The PPP also identified serious lapses in the voting, collation and declaration of Presidential and Parliamentary results. 

The PPP finds the anomalies identified very disturbing as they indicate a real likelihood of compromising the integrity of the entire 2012 results and future ones as well. We find it unfortunate that the EC did not take its time to re-check the provisional results before declaring a winner in the presidential election. If that had been done, it would have guaranteed the integrity of the results. It would have also been better if the EC had published the numbers from the verification machines to enable proper cross checking with the results obtained by our polling agents. The question is why the haste in declaring the results?

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The PPP believes in establishing strong institutions that guarantee fairness and justice in the conduct of State affairs. One such institution is the Electoral Commission. The conduct of credible elections by the Commission is very critical to the sustenance of our democracy. The NPP and the NDC have demonstrated a lack of commitment to ensuring credibility and integrity in our electoral system and have benefited from its weaknesses. 

The Electoral Commission has been weakened to its core and that presents a serious threat to the future sustainability of the multi-party democracy. The Electoral Commission by its “ordering posture” has transferred its responsibility to ensure that election results are credible and accurate to political parties and their agents. 

We cannot possibly rely on the other political parties to guarantee that the votes cast in our favour are counted for us and ensure that the people’s expressed will is what is finally declared. It would be recalled that the NPP and the NDC and other dependent parties agreed to prevent the Electoral Commission from conducting the Wulensi bye-elections thereby denying the Wulensi people representation in parliament as required by law. This act of conspiracy undermined the authority of the EC. It was only the PPP that supported the conduct of the Wulensi bye-election. It is important to note that international perspectives and knowledge about the issue facing the EC has been documented. And I quote:

“The increasingly hyper-aggressive, winner-take-all nature of Ghanaian elections puts tremendous pressure on the one institution that has become a symbol of the country’s successful democratic transition, the Electoral Commission (EC). What happens if the EC is no longer able to perform its duties with the credibility it has commanded in the past?” (Democratic Institute, August 2012)

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We urge Ghanaians to be tolerant with the PPP. We are not the troublemakers but rather the peacemakers. Those denying the injustices in the system are the ones mortgaging the future of this country and putting our democracy and socio-economic development in jeopardy. We leave the issues raised for the people of Ghana to be the best judges. Civil Society Organizations and in particular religious entities must talk to real actors in the field and learn the reality of our situation in order to understand the danger we face. Ghana is in real danger of sliding backwards. Ghanaians must open their eyes and be wide awake to the injustices perpetuated before, during and after this election. 
Peace goes hand in hand with justice. 

A stolen presidency, when perceived as such, cannot bring lasting stability into the future. We must all work together to ensure that the way forward will be a positive one. The PPP will not be a party to anything that will bring chaos or instability to the country we love. We crave for peace. We are only advocating for reforms that will ensure that the future elections will not suffer the difficulties that have been visited on our country in 2012. 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The PPP has come to stay and is a party for the future. Therefore, we are interested in the long term viability and credibility of the electoral system. Since our registration as a political party, we have identified problems with the implementation of the Political Parties Law that if not resolved can lead to chaos in future elections. The PPP has written to the EC and we are waiting for the EC to give us an audience to discuss our concerns and proposals for electoral reforms. 

For the benefit of all Ghanaians, we are obliged to reproduce our proposals sent to the EC below:

The PPP is calling on the EC to enforce the Political Parties Act and disqualify parties that do not meet the minimum criteria within the next six months. The Political Parties Law requires that the parties meet the following requirements:

  1. Be national in character.
  2. Have offices opened in at least two-thirds of all districts in the country.
  3. Have officers elected at the constituency, regional and national levels under the supervision of the EC.
  4. Provide financial reports.

The EC since 1992 has failed to audit the ability of the existing parties to meet these requirements. No political party has been disqualified or removed from the register of parties as a result of not meeting these and other requirements. It is clear that the Law places limits on who can make contributions to fund political parties and campaigns. 

However, the EC has not made any attempt to enforce the provisions of the Law in this area. We have every reason to suspect that foreign governments, individuals and companies are funding the campaigns of political parties in Ghana. The 2012 election is one case of blatant participation of foreigners in the funding of political parties and their campaigns. This places parties like the PPP that are self-funding from its members and Ghanaian supporters at a huge disadvantage. This is one of the reasons why we the PPP cannot agree that the 2012 elections have been truly free and fair. 

We recommend that the EC begins the process immediately to put steps into place for the verification, documentation and auditing of campaign funding.

On the matter of voting we recommend that the EC moves to a fully electronic voting system similar to those found in Brazil, Mexico etc. with some minimum conditions:

  • Votes are transmitted electronically to two separate locations.
  • International observers are allowed full access to the entire process, no closed door sessions at the polling stations.
  • Two internationally recognized audit firms, under 50%/50% contracts with local audit firms, audit the results independently and cross-check each other’s work.
  • The electronic voting machinery should be designed by a Ghanaian technology firm in partnership with an international major in technology. It will be designed such that "rejected ballots" shall be zero. Each political party that meets the Political Parties' Law criteria to become a political party will be granted a seat on the board of the voting machine company. We can no longer accept a system where over 250,000 votes are not counted. 250,000 votes are enough to decide an election.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The current, neo-patrimonial political system, based largely on patronage portends a real danger for this country’s future. The PPP calls on all statesmen and civil society organizations to support the PPP to create the Progressive “Centre Party” that advocates for constitutional and electoral reforms to improve all aspects of our governance architecture to make Ghana great and strong.

PPP. We are Awake!
God Bless our Homeland Ghana and let us all focus on REFORM, REFORM, REFORM so we can finally achieve true PROSPERITY IN PEACE.