Feature Article of Sunday, 23 December 2012

Columnist: Yeboah, Kojo

Is Ghana’s Electoral Commission Really Corrupt?

Corruption is King in Ghana; only the ingenuous, the hypocrite and the shameless politician peddling propaganda will attempt to say otherwise. Many a Ghanaian lives the enchanted life where wealth is acquired out of the blue without winning the lottery or coming into an inheritance.

Our ‘gainfully unemployed’ young men and women ‘burst moves’ or ‘make connections’ every day to somehow make ends meet. Business men/women engage in undefinable transactions that yield miracles while our ubiquitous Store Owners open bare shelve shops daily, sit and chat or play some board game (Ludo, Oware, or Dame) all day then retire in the evening to eloquent self-owned mansions.

Our Police primarily mount Road Blocks and Check Points to line officers pockets with bribes. Any inspection of vehicular road worthiness or examination of driver compliance with our country’s motor vehicle laws and regulations that occurs, only serves to facilitate the bribery process. The more faults an officer finds with a vehicle or driver, the bigger the bribe; road safety be damned!

Justice in our courts leaves a lot to be desired. The affluent or well-connected hardly gets convicted in our system unless of course they are scapegoats. Otherwise incriminating evidence, witnesses, accusers and even accused persons disappear into thin air. Some flee the country under the watchful eyes of our law enforcement. There are even instances where prosecutors take bribes to muddle their own cases.

Our traditional authority is embroiled in incessant stool and skin litigations. Money changes hands and immediately, royal lineages as well as established succession lines blur, land cases become unresolvable as king makers and overlords lose all moral compasses. Our regional houses of chiefs are increasingly becoming ‘constitutional white elephants’ rather than meaningful arbiters or alternate resolvers of disputes and litigation.

Our preachers, church pastors and priests, being chips of the main block, do not fare any better than the general populace on the corruption index. Granted, there are a few good shepherds but a sizeable number of Ghana’s charismatic pastors are more interested in acquiring personal property, having fat bank accounts or cruising around in fancy pimped out vehicles than flocking poor Jesus’ lost sheep.

In a sea of such pervasive corruption, is it feasible that Ghana’s Electoral Commission exists as an incorruptible island? Does Dr. Affari Gyan or his permanent staff possess some special gene that is deficient in the rest of us? How about the thousands of temporally staff the EC hires every election season? Does the EC administer some exclusive pill to shed off their typical Ghanaian corruptible skin?

The EC was established in 1992 as an independent organ of our government. In twenty years of existence it has conducted six elections; 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012 under Dr. Afari Gyan’s leadership. In two of those years, 2000 and 2008, the party in power lost the general elections to the opposition. If the Electoral commission is in cahoots with the ruling party at the time of elections then how does one explain these anomalies? A leopard never changes its spots.

Ex-President Rawlings has religiously maintained that his NDC party was cheated out of victory in the 2000 and 2004 elections while Ex-President Kufour has come down on the EC, insinuating electoral malfeasance in the 2012 contest. Which of these two Ex-Presidents should Ghanaians believe? Can either of these gentlemen tell us how (he) as President, coerce the EC and manipulated election results for his personal or party’s victory? How come the EC only cheats when the opposition is in power?

Nana Akufo Addo of the NPP is refusing to concede defeat and supposedly heading or has gone to the Supreme Court, armed with signed “red and blue election result papers” to seek redress for doctored figures. His party claims they won the elections but the EC changed the numbers and gave victory to the NDC. Some party leaders are alleging that this is the third electoral thievery. The EC, they claim, has robbed them of victories in 1992 and 2008 too.

If their allegation is true then the EC must be a very diabolical institution or must really hate Nana Akufo Addo’s guts. Dr. Afari Gyan and his legion would have concocted Nana Akufo Addo’s defeat in two successive elections. Hmm! Did the EC stick it to the late President John Atta Mills too? Did they deliberately plot Mills’ strings of losses in 2000 and 2004? Is the EC an organized sham fooling us all?

Yes, it is true that employees of the EC, like other Ghanaians, have the propensity to corrupt and be corrupted. Yes, it is highly likely that most EC employees tote NDC or NPP membership cards or may be bias towards one of those two parties. Yes, it is possible that a few individual EC employees may have succeeded in manipulating and sending bad figures from collation centers to the EC’s strong room...

But is it possible for all the bad actors of the EC to be members or sympathizers of the NDC party? Is it possible that NPP party members or sympathizers who work for the EC also manipulated figures to bring John Mahama’s numbers down and send Nana Akufo Addo’s up? Why will the EC help John Mahama win if it has no policy of helping the government in power? If the EC stole in 2008 for Mills, why didn’t Nana go to court then? His party was in power and controlled the state apparatus. Give us a break!

Written and submitted by L. Kojo Yeboah, Raleigh NC, USA