MYND Desk Opinion: As EC Prepares 3rd Presidential Result, Ghana’s Parliament, A Reason For Electoral Dispute

Jean Mensa, Chairperson of the EC

One would have presumed that 28 years into the oldest republic, the fourth republic, which was birthed in 1992 soon to enter its eighth parliament would have paid due diligence when enacting laws to protect the democracy, freedom and development of this great nation, the hope of Africa.

It is appalling that Ghana’s parliament has turned into a partisan faction where most parliamentarians even after winning elections, hardly put off their party colours so as to determine the progress of the nation. The House of Lawmakers has temporarily become “Yeah-Yeah” Majority and “No-No” minority, with the Speaker, having his hands tied.

Importantly, the Revered Pope and the Leader of Catholicism says “Every man, every woman who has to take up the service of government, must ask themselves two questions: ‘Do I love my people in order to serve them better? Am I humble and do I listen to everybody, to diverse opinions in order to choose the best path.’ If you don’t ask those questions, your governance will not be good”.

Two statements paramount to me in the above quote is “Do I love my people to serve them better?” and “Do I listen to diverse opinions in order to choose the best path?” Ghanaians have returned from the general elections held on December 7, with the process being praised all over the world. But a fundamental question remains unanswered, and that is; are there flaws in the legislation that was timeously and hurriedly passed with the hope of making the elections better?

Among the numerous functions of the Electoral Commission (EC) as stated in the Constitution includes but not limited to; conducting and supervising all public elections and referenda, and to perform such other functions as may be prescribed by law which the commission has splendidly carried out.

The procedures adopted by the commission to deliver to Ghanaians a transparent and fair elections are in tandem with the requirement of the constitution, part of which states;

“Immediately after the close of the poll, the presiding officer shall, in the presence of such of the candidates or their representatives and their polling agents as are present, proceed to count, at that polling station, the ballot papers of that station and record the votes cast in favour of each candidate or question.

It continues; “The presiding officer, the candidates or their representatives and, in the case of a referendum, the parties contesting or their agents and the polling agents if any, shall then sign a declaration stating—

(a) the polling station; and

(b) the number of votes cast in favour of each candidate or question;

and the presiding officer shall, there and then, announce the results of the voting at that polling station before communicating them to the returning officer”.

The constitution further provided room for delegation of duty to the regional and district offices of the commission as captured; “There shall be in every region and district a representative of the Electoral Commission who shall perform such functions as shall be assigned to him by the Commission”.

The above statement makes it clear that the national EC’s decision to rely on the Regional Offices through the District Offices to collate the result for the presidential election as may have been reported or announced by the Presiding Officer at the numerous Polling Stations is plausible, just as captured in Constitutional Instrument (CI) 127, Regulation 44 Sub Regulation 10.

However, let’s ask of parliament their due diligence in enacting the CI 127 which now guides elections of the state.

The cry and the call for protest by the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the demand from the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) urging their counterparts to make available their proof of evidence of electoral fraud shows how clearly, parliament has done disservice to the people whose taxes are responsible for their upkeep.

I am sure, had parliamentarians from both aisle of the house decided to interrogate the Commission on how they could verify the results they receive from the regional offices, allegations of thievery and result manipulation wouldn’t have marred a near-perfect elections.

This now falls on the new dawn of the eighth parliament to call on the EC immediately they assemble to address the loopholes in CI 127. Going forward, the Commission must be made in no uncertain term to verify the results they receive from the Regional Offices, as long as they will be delegated to carry out the crucial task of collation of results from the District Offices.

Also, the national EC, should as a matter of urgency accept to verify the parliamentary results determined by the District Offices at least, as a sign of the supervisory role they play over the District Offices, since in the matter of litigation, the District offices do not have the power to select their attorney who would represent them in the courts of Ghana.

M. Kelly once said, ‘Remember the difference between a boss and a leader; a boss says “Go!” A leader says “Let’s go!”’ Thrilled by Kelly’s statement, I will humbly urge the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, Mrs Jean Mensah, to be the boss who takes keen interest in the development of her personnel and the commission and appropriately delegate with routine checks.

To the new birth of parliamentarians who will grace the eighth parliament come January 7, 2021, please, please, Ghanaians are fed up with the partisan nature of the house. Your purpose of being in the majority should not only be ‘yeah-yeah’, just as the ‘no-no’ minority. It will be beautiful to see both factions of the house engage dispassionately in the executive businesses that will be laid on the floor of parliament. Do not sit in the name of seeing a bill reach its maturity, but sit to make GHANA BETTER.

I chanced to listen to the Director of Electoral Services at the EC, Dr. Serebour Quaicoe on JoyNews’ undisputed Saturday show, Newsfile hosted by Journalist of the Year, Lawyer Samson Anyenini. In explaining why the commission had to issue a new presidential result in a press release, Dr. Serebour said;

“What happened was is that, normally, they will give you the summary of the results, meaning that they would have collated the number of constituencies within that region. Eastern Region has 33 constituencies, so when you get the summary, you know that they have collated the 33. So it was when the parties were signing, that we had a call that they made a mistake. They omitted Ayensuano. Yesterday, I said Asuogyaman. Its rather Ayensuano. So instead of collating the 33 centres, they collated 32. So the Ayensuano was added and we got the result, they signed and we added it to the collation.”

Deducing the content of the above quote, it is possible that votes obtained by all political parties should have increased thereby increasing the total number of votes cast and valid votes cast, if and only if the 33rd constituency was not added prior to the announcement on December 9. One important question is “Where did the EC get those figures used in the press conference that was used to announce the president-elect, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo?”

The table below compares the figures of December 9 and 10, a reason the EC must be answerable to Ghanaians. Figures under the final are contained in the press release whiles I chose to use the word, discarded to qualify the figures of the press conference.

FINAL DISCARDED DIFFERENCE
10/12/2020 09/12/2020
NPP

6,730,587

6,730,413

174

NDC

6,213,182

6,214,889

-1,707

GUM

105,548

105,565

-17

CPP

12,200

12,215

-15

GFP

5,574

5,775

-201

GCPP

3,564

3,574

-10

APC

7,138

7,140

-2

LPG

7,683

7,690

-7

PNC

10,882

10,887

-5

PPP

6,849

6,848

1

NDP

6,549

6,612

-63

IND

9,704

9,703

1

Lets ask ourselves, should the addition of a constituency increase votes by 176 and at the same time decrease votes by 2,027?

If on December 9, where possibly one constituency was omitted before the EC Chairperson announced the result and inadvertently used 13,434,574 as total valid votes cast, why should the December 10 Press Release have, if accepting the figure of 13,119,460 as valid votes cast, 13,432,857 as total votes cast.

A simple calculation shows that negative 1,851 votes may not have been accounted for as votes obtained between political parties whiles negative 1,717 votes have gone missing in the same period.

My appeal to the Electoral Commission if it could be considered will be for the commission to implement the following strategies to forestall any future electoral dispute.

The manual collation should be run jointly with electronic collation. Whiles relying on the Regional Offices to provide the commission with the collated results from the constituencies, the National office should within the period of wait, collate only Presidential Results from the polling stations electronically. In this way, what ever the regions will provide will be cross-checked with what the EC has collated electronically so as to resolve any differences.

The Commission should as a matter of oversight, put up for the purposes of strict supervision, zonal collation units tasked to monitor the constituencies results for parliamentary elections using the same approach as outlined above.

To the EC, I would like to see your next general elections be without mathematical errors. It will be my happiest moment when results announced will be accepted by all. It is very bad, that in only one election, the Commission could announce two separate results, with a possible third one looming.

 

Erich Joey Odonkor

(Twitter @phatjoe_eirich)

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