To use a footballing analogy the Electoral Commission of Ghana (EC) as the independent arbiter is the sole referee that ensures that the teams (parties or aspirants) do the following
- Obey the rules governing elections
- Register the correct players
- Inspects the pitch (polling stations) to ensure that there are no anomalies
- And provides the match ball (election materials) while ensuring lots of spares in the event that the ball bursts or is simply kicked out of the stadium.
- In the event of floodlight failure, the referee might delay or suspend the match. The referee may even abandon the match altogether in the event of unruly behaviour.
All of the above see the EC working as the perfect watchdog, protecting our democracy. Zealously! So zealously in fact that it will routinely disqualify minor players with the flimsiest of technicalities. Some even without the customary VAR review!
As determined by the Political Parties Law Act 574, the Electoral Commission’s core functions also include the policing of the political parties ensuring fair play and financial transparency in all their dealings. Specifically, the following:
- Declaration of assets and expenditure by political parties.
- Declaration of assets, liabilities and expenditure in relation to elections.
- Returns and accounts of political parties
In this regard somehow the EC acts as a friendly guard dog protecting the inhabitants of its household (the major political parties) while baring it’s fangs to all and sundry outside its comfortable mansion.
Make no mistake. This EC like those before it, has been complicit in allowing the big parties to wilfully ignore statutory and constitutional provisions that OBLIGATE them to declare their audited accounts AND have same gazetted. During this entire 4th republic, NOT ONCE has the EC demanded that the parties provide their accounts. The penalties are severe:
Section 30 of ACT 574: PENALTY
- (1) Any person who contravenes a provision of this Act commits an offence.
(3) An offence under this Act, unless otherwise specifically provided for, shall be punishable with a fine not exceeding ten million cedis or a term of imprisonment not exceeding two years or both.
4) Where an offence under this Act is committed by a political party, every executive officer of that party shall also be guilty of that offence.
Section 13 subsection 6 of ACT 574:
“Without prejudice to any other penalty prescribed by this Act or any other enactment, where a political party (a) refuses or neglects to comply with this section; or (b) submits a declaration which is false in any material particular, the Commission may cancel the registration of that political party.”
By this reckoning, NOT ONE OF THE POLITICAL PARTIES THAT HAS BEEN CLEARED TO CONTEST 2020 WOULD QUALIFY. NOT ONE!! The only one standing, considering the 5 disqualifications already announced, would be the independent candidates Mr Asiedu Walker and JOY.
The EC has embarrassed itself once again with this selective execution of its mandate, and the threat of criminal proceedings on what is, at worst, technicalities; meanwhile turning a blind eye to the fundamental cause of political corruption – the EC’s failure to check political party funding.
We have had prospective MP’s openly admit to buying votes (another offence that the EC has blatantly disregarded and has stiff penalties) but it considers double registration as a more serious offence? Our democracy does not hinge on the success of the big parties, but the myriad of smaller groups too.
Instead of being a watchdog, the EC is without a doubt a GUARD DOG!
CPAG COMMUNICATION TEAM