You are here: HomeWallOpinionsArticles2016 08 10Article 461328

Opinions of Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Columnist: Amankwah, Kwabena

EC needs consistency to engender trust in the electoral process

The fact cannot be gainsaid that the stakes are very high in the upcoming December 7 presidential and parliamentary elections.

President John Mahama and his governing National Democratic Congress are aware they have failed miserably in the management of the affairs of the country, and so have become very unpopular with the electorate that has resolved to vote them out of power.

Yet, they have given the clearest indication that they will employ all means, fair and foul, to retain power to perpetuate their maladministration, and to continue to provide opportunity for 'family and friends' to further their 'create, loot and share' enterprise. They also know very well the financial wreck they have caused the nation through corrupt acts and naked looting of the national coffers, and so, like former Transport Minister Dzifa Attivor, they fear leaving power means the law could catch up with them for their misdeeds.

On the other hand, the main opposition leader, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, and his New Patriotic Party, are fully aware of the 'anger' from Ghanaians that will be visited on them if they should fail to win the upcoming elections. They also appreciate fully the far-reaching ramifications for the future of the NPP, if they should fail to win the upcoming elections.

This is particularly against the background of the fact that the suffering Ghanaians have amply indicated their readiness to use the NPP as the 'vehicle of redemption' from the current state of despondency unjustifiably imposed on them by the inept, clueless and corrupt Mahama government.

This is how much the upcoming elections mean to the two main political parties in the contest, and we at the Daily Statesman do not think the men and women at the Electoral Commission, especially the Chairperson, are dead to this reality.

At all cost one of them will win while the other loses. But the most critical issue has to do with the conditions under which the declaration of a winner and a loser will be made. And this is where the umpire, the EC, must conduct its affairs in a manner that will engender a reasonable amount of trust in the entire electoral process, a condition that is required for the eventual winner and vanquished to accept the outcome of the elections.

One of the ingredients that will ensure trust in the process is the ability of the EC to ensure consistency in the implementation of decisions consensually agreed upon by all parties in the elections.

As the NPP rightly pointed out last week Thursday as press conference, "what needs to be done is for all interested parties, especially the EC, to stick to collective decisions and implement them in the manner agreed upon. And if it becomes necessary for modifications to be made, the EC must be honest, professional and transparent enough to inform stakeholders. This is what transparency, fairness and inclusivity are all about as far as the electoral process is concerned."

For instance, the current brouhaha over the issue of electronic transmission of results has been occasioned by the EC's lack of consistency and transparency in implementing the decision that was collectively taken and agreed upon by all stakeholders.

"Nobody has said he was going to transmit results electronically from the 29,000 polling stations," Eric Kofi Dzakpasu, EC's Director of Communications, wants Ghanaians to take this without raising any question, more so when what he is saying is different from what was contained in the EC's Expression of Interest advertisement inviting companies to bid for the contract.

Portions of the EC's Expression of Interest read: "The Electoral Commission of Ghana intends to use ICT to run in parallel with its existing system of transmitting election results.

Accordingly, the Commission invites eligible firms to express their interest in the provision of the following services: Supply, installation and support appropriate ICT products and logistics for direct capture of polling station election results at about 29,000 polling stations; Supply, installation and support appropriate ICT products and logistics for real time direct transmission of presidential and parliamentary polling station election results to Constituency Collation Centres."

The NPP certainly could not have remained quiet about this, especially when a letter seeking clarification from the commission had not yielded any results: "It would have been irresponsible on our part not to raise concern over this departure. This, in no way, should give any discerning person any grounds to make claims that the NPP 'has gained notoriety' for turning round to oppose decisions collectively taken by all stakeholders. If the NDC was part of this decision we were not invited to that discussion."

It is very unfortunate that with barely four months to the December polls, serious doubts still exist about the credibility, independence and neutrality of the EC. This doubt is not only among some political parties but among a huge section of Ghanaians, who still doubt the 2013 ruling by the Supreme Court, in the case of the Presidential Election Petition, that President Mahama "was validly elected."

The EC therefore must be very consistent in its dealings with all the political parties, and allow transparency, fairness and neutrality, genuinely displayed in its work, to engender trust in the electoral process so that the outcome of the crucial December 7 presidential and parliamentary elections will be readily accepted by all interested parties.