You are here: HomeWallOpinionsArticles2015 06 27Article 364914

Opinions of Saturday, 27 June 2015

Columnist: Ackon, Paa Kow

Our votes are like rifles

Just last week, I indicated that every day in Ghana, there is something new happening. These news stories we always hear are sometimes for the good and other times for the bad reasons. Today, I was actually going to share with you an irritating experience I had last night in a "Trotro" from Sankara Circle to Legon; only for me to be told that the President has appointed the 42year old Mrs. Charlotte Osei as the first woman in Ghana to chair the electoral commission. I first wish to congratulate Mrs. Osei on her new appointment. My difficulty with Ghana’s 1992 Constitution is that it has given too many powers to the President and I would like to see the EC make its own appointment. Some have even suggested that the 1992 Constitution of Ghana was crafted to make life easy for President Rawlings since as a military man, he could not work with constrained powers.
Well, I am humbly proposing that instead of having an Electoral Commission whose Chairperson, deputy and other members shall be appointed by the president in consultation with the council of state as required by law in article 70 (2), we should rather have an Electoral Management Authority (EMA) where every political party as defined by the Political Parties law (ACT 574) shall hold representation and as such, the partisanship of one representative in the proposed EMA will be matched by that of the others. As a consequence, independence and neutrality can be achieved even though political affiliation is present.
In Hungary for example, those who manage elections are elected by the Legislature (Parliament) based on expertise, and each political party participating in the election at that particular election year also appoint one member each. In Kenya and Sierra Leone where the process is sequenced differently, nominations are always initiated by the president; but it is the legislature (parliament) which confirms them. In the case of Mauritius, the electoral commissioner is appointed by the judicial and legal service commission and not the president. Even in Zimbabwe, Namibia, Iraq, and South Africa, the position of electoral commissioner is always advertised and in the case of Zimbabwe for example, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) decides on the criteria for selection.
So why is everything shrouded in secrecy in Ghana? Why don’t we support the call to amend the constitution so that the president is depowered to appoint the EC boss? The process for selecting a chairperson for the electoral commission should not be different from how Public Universities in Ghana selects their Vice Chancellors. We immediately need an amendment of the 1992 constitution of Ghana to ensure that, recruitment and selection of electoral commissioners are done through open advertisement where there will be tests of competence, integrity and merit.
As soon as this process is completed, appointment can then be made by, for example the public services commission, or even parliament. The interview and selection process can even be shown live on national TV as was the case in the Supreme Court hearing. The advantages of using open advertisement for recruiting the electoral commissioner and the other members are the good screening of the candidates and the transparency this process creates. it also opens up opportunities for candidates outside the normally favoured party apparatchiks to also apply.
After all, just as Abraham Lincoln argues "elections belong to the people and it is their decision. if they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters". I am convinced that until we use the open system, our Presidents shall never appoint anyone they do not have a personal relationship with. it is my expectation that Mrs. Osei will be interested in promoting the use of Electronic Voting in our electoral system as she is belongs to the Computer age and also ensure that polling station results are published at all Polling Stations since we all now understand that elections are won at the polling stations.

Long live Ghana
Long live the proposed Electoral Management Authority (EMA)
Long live all Progressives

Paa Kow Ackon
ackon.pk@gmail.com