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Opinions of Thursday, 24 November 2005

Columnist: Agyeman, Harry

Representation of the Peoples (Amendment) Bill

Kofi Wayo might be beating the war drums with his civil war statement concerning the Representation of the People?s (Amendment) Bill. In the same breath as saying he is exaggerating how people will respond to this bill, I appreciate his concern seriously. Nevertheless why allow Ghanaians abroad to vote in local elections if there is nothing sinister or clandestine behind bill.

There are some Ghanaians in Ghana who do not get the chance due to fear of macho men or self-inhibition. Should we not put our resources and efforts into getting them in the polling booth before turning our sights abroad. Has this government got a disease whose symptoms are exhibited by thinking Ghana?s remedy is everything diaspora and foreign? There is a big room for electoral developments in Ghana yet why do they want get votes from the Ghanaian in the diaspora.

What are we going to do about the situation whereby it is taking a week to count votes, what about ballot boxes disappearance, what about getting more votes than the actual number of people who registered, what about getting people to vote on policies rather than personalities? As usual are we going to leave one problem unsolved and in typical Ghanaian fashion create another one.

Let face it, Ghanaians living abroad have a nostalgic if not romantic view of our mother country. The bigger percentage among us in the diaspora did not vote in Ghana, are we playing catch up?, do we really want to vote in Ghanaian election, have we asked for this? Are we properly connected to the daily issues in Ghana to tip the balance in such a crucial event for the people of Ghana? Who will actually qualify as the Ghanaian in the diaspora to vote, only those with Ghanaian passports and citizenry, will it be only those with Ghanaian names, Ghanaian parentage?

If the government of Ghana wants more people to participate in elections, I think they can do this Ghana. There is a whole lot of disenfranchise Ghanaians in Ghana. They will learn more logistically by doing that rather than trying to take advantage of what they see as ready-made voters in the diaspora. Ghanaians in the diaspora should not see this as a previlege but rather a sudden deviation from an infant democracy. If this issue was about Ghanaians in the diaspora paying direct income taxes to Ghana we will all be questioning why and how. Yet I see the two as equal social duties.

If Ghanaians in the diapora are going to vote in Ghahaian elections, how is this going to be mobilised, organised and managed? Where are the votes going to be counted, the country the voting took place or will it be Ghana, will there be actual voting or votes will be allocated to parties based on party membership and allegiance? E.g. if NDC has 20,000 registered voters in London at a given Ghanaian general election, the party will be allocated 20,000 votes. Are you beginning to smell what I am already smelling?

Ghanaians in the diaspora should stop thinking because they send money home and build houses in Ghana it gives the right to meddle in Ghanaian politics. Yes, the money goes a long to put food on the table. The houses we put up does not only provide accommodation but also generates employment (house building in Ghana is probably one of longest ever growing employment sector in Ghana) so what? We don?t deserve extra rewards by looking after own children and family, it is our responsibility. These acts should not be seen as performing a duty for mother Ghana and as such asking for rights in return.

We Ghanaians in the diaspora should tell the government of Ghana we don?t need the vote yet. There are more important things to do with the resources back home. This could be the only way to stop it. Come on guys do we really want this? If this bill is put into practice I can guarantee you it wont be one vote cast, one vote counted. Let us put this idea to rest for the time being before Kofi Wayo says One Man, One Bullet.

Harry Agyeman
London


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