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Opinions of Thursday, 29 October 2020

Columnist: Anthony Obeng Afrane

Is the EC boss, Deaconess Jean Mensa as transparent as she claims?

Jean Adukwei Mensa, EC chair Jean Adukwei Mensa, EC chair

In classical times the followers of a leader would identify themselves by a descriptive extension to their leader's name, for example, Pompey's troops were called Pompeiani, and Caesar's were referred to as Caesariani. Pompey was a leading Roman general and statesman. Caesar was also a great Roman general and statesman. Both gentlemen in 60 BC, formed a political alliance that dominated Roman politics for a very long time.

In line with the aforementioned observation, the book of Acts 11:26 of the Bible mentions that the disciples of Christ were first called Christians in Antioch because the people of Antioch recognized that they were followers of Jesus Christ.

However, Theophilus of Antioch in 170 A.D. claimed that the term "Christian" was used, not as much because of association with Jesus, but because it was derived from the Greek word for oil, chrism, which means anointed. The followers of Jesus appeared to be anointed with the Spirit; they were different.

One thing stands out, the above conversations reinforce the view that the followers of Jesus Christ appeared unique to the people of Antioch; their behaviours and deeds resembled that of Christ or people who carry the anointing of God. A Christian must, therefore, be identified not through religious slogans or by word of mouth, but by deeds. There is a story of an atheist who is reported to have said that if Christians could behave the way Jesus did, he will join them.

The EC boss, Mrs Jean Mensa is a staunch Christian, and I'm reliably informed that she is a Sunday school teacher in her church. This is the very reason why she has a greater responsibility to distinguish herself by carrying the name of Jesus Christ high, before, during and after this year's polls.

This is the time for her to exhibit the virtues of a Christian to draw others to Christ. This is the time for her to play her part to preserve the peace we have enjoyed over the years as a country. And this is the time to think of the fate of children such as her Sunday school pupils if violence breaks out because of acts of unfairness on the part of the institution she heads.

I was, therefore, exceedingly happy when I heard her say that as a Christian, she will stick to the values of fairness, to ensure a credible and transparent election on December 7.

“I also have a duty to God and to our country to be an agent of peace. As the head of the Electoral Commission, the signals I send out, be it to our staff, or the public is important as it would have an impact on the election and our nation,” she said.

Subsequently, at an event for picking positions on the ballot paper for presidential aspirants not too long ago, Mrs Jean Mensa entreated political parties and stakeholders with genuine concerns to raise them rather than try to discredit a thorough and credible electoral process.

". . . until then we entreat the naysayers to cease their onslaught of trying to discredit a thorough and credible electoral process and a Commission which has been open and transparent in all its dealings," she lamented.

But a section of the public is not happy with her statement and think the EC chairperson has not been as open and transparent as she claims, and that her posture and actions cannot venerate fair play. For example, the Electoral Commission secretly printed voters' ID cards at their district offices without the knowledge of political parties and stakeholders. A typical case happened on September 18, 2020, when the EC was caught secretly printing an unspecified number of Voters' ID cards in the night at its district office at the Ablekuma Central Constituency without the knowledge of major stakeholders, something the EC confirmed as true.

Furthermore, about 80% of exhibition centres in the recently ended exhibition exercise did not have Biometric Verification Devices even though the EC said about 77,000 BVDs meant to be deployed at all polling centres have been procured? Has this shortcoming got to do with the rumour that mass manual verification of voters would be done on Election Day to encourage electoral manipulations?

There is also an allegation that the EC hasn't tested the BVDs for the coming elections which could cause serious problems on Election Day if it is true. The EC must come clear on this, and possibly make sure the BVDs are audited in the presence of major stakeholders before the elections if it wants to be seen as transparent.

Among the concerns of some of the electorate is the fact that the EC did not involve major stakeholders before removing the names of the 30,000 voters it claimed did double registration. Furthermore, there hasn't been any publication of those whose names have been removed. All registered voters are, therefore, sitting on tenterhooks; no one knows whether he or she is eligible to vote on Election Day.

It is believed that such evidence of acts of the election management body confirm a long-mooted suspicion that the EC Chair, Jean Mensa and others were appointed to ensure that President Akufo-Addo is retained as president at all costs, something that is a recipe for discontent and could impinge on the peace of our nation.

I'm not a naysayer, and can't naysay anything the EC does. But I expect canniness on the part of the Chair of the Electoral Commission in the upcoming polls. Since she is an avowed follower of Christ, it is surely right to hold her to high Christian standards; and I would be glad if she could consider the Presbyterian Twi hymnal which says,

Whatever I say Whatever I do I have to ask myself Whether it will be pleasing to Christ