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Opinions of Saturday, 7 November 2020

Columnist: Bright Philip Donkor

EC comes under attack when NDC or NPP is in opposition

File photo of image of the NDC and NPP File photo of image of the NDC and NPP

From the period when we used opaque ballot boxes through to the most recent 2016 biometric register, there have always been debates about our electoral system, sometimes resulting in boycotts and the activation of our judicial processes.

Over the years, there’s been a barrage of attacks on the Electoral Commission by the National Democratic Congress and New Patriotic Party, especially when in opposition.

Undoubtedly, when these major political parties are in opposition whatever the EC does is at their disfavour.

They become uncomfortable with any action the EC takes. But whenever they’re in power, it takes a palatable dimension.

The EC forms the principal organ for the administration of elections in Ghana.

And the EC’s job is not a walk in the park, rightly so because the performance of its functions could be fraught with controversies which could provoke acrimonious disputes either by the state, through its countless agents, or contending political parties, their candidates or supporters.

In our part of the world, the conduct of general elections is often characterised by mistrust of the processes leading to the elections.

Political opponents engage in accusations and counter-accusations about the processes.

It’s unfortunate that some of these political parties resort to attacking the commission’s integrity anytime they are in opposition.

They used every platform to attack the neutrality or integrity of the commission when they could have channelled those energies to sell their messages to the voting community.

They spew all manner of attacks in an attempt to stifle the EC from executing its constitutional mandate.

For example, the NDC attacked the EC after the state electoral body submitted a Constitutional Instrument (C.I) to parliament to pass a legislation to enable citizens to use the Ghana Card and Ghana Passport for registration as voters.

They claimed that the use of the Ghana Card in the registration process was a calculated attempt by the EC and its allies to suppress votes in its strongholds.

I’d be demonstrating bias if I fail to talk about the NPP. Cast your mind back to the 2016 elections when the NPP alleged that the voters’ register was bloated with over 70,000 foreigners, thus pushing for a new voters’ register.

However, the NDC which was in power then objected to the claim and supported the EC that the register was credible. There were even alleged cases that the NDC was in bed with the EC to rig the 2016 elections.

As the adage goes, “the evil that men do, lives after them”. Without mincing words, the action of both the NDC and NPP towards the EC is entirely different when they are in power.

The attacks on the EC are absolutely needless and an attempt to subject the EC to the direction or control of any person or authority is unconstitutional and totally misguided.

Much as they have every right to disagree with the EC, it is important for them to refrain from attacks and insults, during their campaigns and rallies.

The unremitting deployment of political mad dogs by their paymasters to desecrate public servants’ high-earned reputations is appalling.

The abuses and hostilities against public servants and the unnecessary antagonistic political tagging and labelling of respected professionals because they are appointed or served in government ‘A’ or ‘B’ is repulsive.

Whenever I hear political parties attack the EC, I often wonder what exactly it is that they want. As a nationalist I humbly ask these questions;

i. Is casting doubts on the credibility of the commissioners/commission the kind of politics we want?

ii. Will they be doing the same assuming they were in government?

iii. Why are political actors determined to tarnish the image of EC and discredit their work?

iv. Is it to win an election or to get the commission’s support or attention?

In point of fact, no party wins an election because the EC likes them. You win because the people repose their trust in you and want you in government.

You win because there’s been improvements in the lives of the average citizen. Voters are more discerning to do the comparison themselves; whether to vote for you or not.

Instead of political parties turning their fury on the commission anytime a certain electoral decision doesn’t favour their course, they should rather focus on their political messages to win the hearts and votes of people.

In Ghana, it’s normally the case that the party in opposition has never trusted the EC. The problem is that it’s always the prerogative of the president to appoint the electoral commission of his choice.

That’s why we continue to encounter this same trouble.

In my point of view, a commission should be set up to choose the electoral commissioner. A person who is not ‘political someone’ who does not hold any cardmember of a political party.

This could presumably be a good step in the not so distant future.