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Opinions of Sunday, 20 December 2020

Columnist: Daniel Amateye Anim

Election 2020: Lessons for Ghana’s emerging democracy

Ghanaians went to the polls on December 7, 2020 Ghanaians went to the polls on December 7, 2020

On Monday, 7th December, 2020, Ghana successfully went through the polls and we thank the Lord Almighty for His gracious mercies and unfailing love.

I wish to salute fellow country men and women who participated in the process.

I also sincerely wish to thank the media for their efforts in bringing us updates across the 275 constituency.

Indeed, their participation in the process is a strong admission that democracy is the currency of the day and therefore, it must jealously be guarded to ensure smooth path for economic growth and development.

The rationale for this article is to briefly and critically look at lessons from the just ended elections and to speedily put mechanisms in place to ensure that we further consolidate our electoral system and processes. Admittedly, organization of this year’s elections has been quite smooth and largely successful.

The usual long queue at the polling stations was literally non-existent, the verification machines and other electoral materials were actually intact, and in fact the Electoral Commission must be commended for the innovations employed at the various polling centers.

Interestingly, when I was just able to pick my trumpet and start blowing the success of this year’s elections, then news started pouring in about violence in some parts of the country and the eventual death of some citizens. I hereby express my deepest condolences to their families.

What is the value of democracy?

Multi-party elections, which actually determine the government of the country is the acceptable shared conception and practice that we have adopted under the fourth republic.

In fact, the Constitution provides that Parliament shall have no power to enact a law establishing a one-party state (article 3(1) of the constitution). It is worth noting that democracy is indeed the vehicle by which people have the power to choose their government and an opportunity to participate in some of the processes that affect them economically, socially and politically.

In fact, an election is gradually emerging as one of the key pillars affecting our democracy. It is refreshing to state that democracy is not just about elections, yet elections are the main propelling political force that determines the direction of our democracy and as a result, it must be conducted in a manner that will ensure that we do not distort our democratic credentials. The value of any democracy includes:

Political value: That is, freedom of speech, freedom of political life, peace etc.

Economic value: It includes development in freedom, economic prosperity.

Legal value: That is, distributive Justice, rule of law etc.

Lessons for Ghana’s Emerging Democracy

Election is indeed a major and critical political issue in our democratic dispensation. However, it should not be allowed to destroy our stable democracy.

Electoral disagreements must be resolved at the courts and the courts must at all times uphold their professional integrity in resolving such electoral disputes that will be put before them for determination.

Political actors as well as political parties must equally respect the decision of the court, and by this; our democracy will indeed become the shining example to other countries on the continent and beyond. It is refreshing to state that, upholding our democratic credentials will involve:

Building Trust in Electoral Commission: Article 45 (c) of the 1992 Constitution empowers the Electoral Commission to conduct and supervise all public elections and referenda. In fact, the Commission is mandated to educate the citizens on the electoral process and its purpose (article 45(d)).

The Commission, in discharging such constitutional mandate, must do so in a manner that will ensure a high degree of professionalism, transparency and fairness thereby earning the trust and confidence of critical political stakeholders as well as the good citizens of this country. Political parties and political actors must also desist from deliberate and unnecessary criticism of the activities of the Electoral Commission.

They must present their displeasure to the Commission in a “politically friendly manner” and the Commission must equally address their issues within the ambits of the law. This will, in my considered opinion, breed truth and eventually suspicion will be diminished from our electoral process.

Empowering National Commission for Civic Education: The NCCE is one of the important democratic institutions in this country. Its mandate is to educate the citizens of Ghana about their civic rights and responsibilities.

In fact, article 233 of the 1992 Constitution spells out the functions of the Commission. Specifically, article 233 (d) of the 1992 Constitution provides that the Commission shall formulate, implement and oversee programmes intended to inculcate in the citizens of Ghana awareness of their civic responsibilities and an appreciation of their rights and obligations as free people.

It is my humble submission that the Commission must be well-resourced financially and with the appropriate logistics that will enable them to educate the citizens about their rights to preserve and defend our democracy. I am of the view that such an education will equip citizens not to allow themselves to be used by some greedy politicians to create confusion in the country.

Professional Training for Security Personnel: security personnel that will be deployed on an election day to assist the Electoral Commission to deliver free and fair election must be given specialized and professional training in crowd control etc. this will prevent the unfortunate and needless deaths recorded at this year’s election.

Conclusion

In conclusion, I wish to congratulate the President- elect, H.E Nana Akufo-Addo for emerging victorious in a keenly contested election. Your Excellency, your victory is a loud and crystal clear message from the citizens that, you must put up a team capable of recovering the economy from the impact of COVID-19, creating economic growth and development and prosperity for all.

I equally wish to call on H.E John Mahama, one of our finest statesmen, to resort to the Supreme Court for redress of any electoral displeasure and concerns. That is the surest way to uphold our democracy for future NDC government. We must be guarded by our political past and, therefore, lets drive our political agenda on paths that may not distort our democratic credentials. God bless our homeland Ghana and make us great, prosperous and strong.