Coalition for Free, Fair and Transparent Elections (COFFTRE) is a Non-Governmental, civil society organisation
TOPIC: THE ELECTORAL COMMISSION MUST REFLECT ON THE 2012 ELECTION ANOMALIES, BEFORE NEW REGISTRATION BEGINS.
Coalition for Free, Fair and Transparent Elections (COFFTRE) is a Non-Governmental, civil society organisation and does not belong to any political party. Its quest is to promote good governance, democracy and effective electoral reforms.
Democracy, good governance and free and fair elections are sine-qua-non to political stability and Socio-Economic Development in the world. It must also be remembered that one of the components of democracy is elections. From a political point of view, democracy is a system of government in which political leaders are chosen in regular, free, fair, transparent and peaceful elections. This is in line with the EC’s mission statement which states that; ‘‘The Electoral Commission has as its Mission, to advance the course of democracy and good governance for enhanced development of Ghana by institutionalising free, fair and transparent elections and referenda’’.
For this reason, the EC must create a ‘Glass House Effect’ in its operations. By Glass House Effect, we mean that the EC must grant the fullest, 100% access to all its decisions, documents and records and the rationale for taking such decisions. It must be like a glass house, into which every Ghanaian who is interested can look at any time to establish what is going on. We would demand a regime of ‘no secrets’ at the EC.
(COFFTRE) have taken notice of the recent proposals by the Electoral Commission (EC) of Ghana to conduct daily registration for prospective voters in other to ease tension during mass registration. We have also heard of the mass registration starting in June this year. COFFTRE has issues with the EC’s decision regarding the way and manner it has started preparing itself for the District Level Assembly Elections and subsequently the 2016 elections.
The land mark presidential election petition which was sent to the Supreme Court by Nana Akufo Addo and two others, to look into the unprecedented infractions that occurred in the December, 2012 general election did not see the light of day. In the full glare of the International Community, statutory violations admitted in Court by Dr. Afari Gyan, the Commissioner of the Electoral Commission, were treated with contempt and resulted in the approval of Voting without biometric verification, Over voting, No signature, Duplicate Serial Numbering and so on. This is an indication that these infractions have become law, and going into 2016 elections voting without biometric verification would be allowed.
The decision by the Supreme Court to allow results where the presiding officer did not sign to be transmitted also means that in election 2016 and other future elections, such infractions would be allowed.
Furthermore, Ghanaians do not know what exactly constitutes over-voting.
Again, it was clear during the Presidential Election hearing that the voters’ register had major problems with its contents.
The EC Commissioner could not tell exactly how many ballot papers, pink sheets and other necessary documentation he printed.
Given these limitations, we believe that allowing the EC to go on blithely to organize another election, beginning with a voters registration, without convincingly dealing with all the infractions, would be inviting Ghana to a feast of war.
We refuse to be part of this harvest of blood.
District Level Elections (DLEs)
It would be recalled that the 2010 DLE was characterized by many hiccups and resulted in what can be described as ‘‘TOT-TOT’’.
As at December 28, 2010, the EC announced that it could not organise the elections in eight regions because materials for those areas were not ready. There are no doubts that these hiccups affected the December, 2012 Presidential and Parliamentary elections. We urge the EC not to rush in terms of the new registration, but declare to Ghanaians the total number of registered voters available in its books before any mass registration is done. It must tell Ghanaians what it has done to vet the register. Also, the EC must make sure all materials are available before conducting the DLEs to avoid ‘‘TOT TOT’’
Number of Polling Stations
Report of the Special Budget Committee on the 2014 Budget Estimates of the Electoral Commission indicates that there would be about 35,000 polling stations opened for the DLE in 2014 as compared with the existing 26,200 stations used for the 2012 General Elections. We are aware that the EC used 26,002 polling stations for the 2012 December elections, why then do we have 26,200 polling stations as indicated in the EC’s budget to Parliament? By implication, 198 polling stations were added to the 26,002 polling stations clandestinely and were used to declare the 2012 election results. COFFTRE would like the EC to explain the 26,200 polling stations in the report of the special budget committee. Also we caution the EC not to hide newly created polling stations from the political parties but make it available for thorough scrutiny.
Biometric Verification Devices (BVD)
According to the EC’s budget, Seventy Thousand (70,000) BVD machines would be needed for the DLE in October 2014. This means that every polling station would be entitled to two BVDs. COFFTRE is asking, what has happened to the $94 million dollars spent on the BVDs for 2012 elections? The EC awarded the contract for the procurement of Biometric Voter registration exercise to STL/HSB/Genkey Company Limited, after a shortlist of 47 companies which expressed interest to implement the technology first time in Ghana. This is an indication that the EC did not do due diligence in terms of the procurement process. We are strongly alarmed by the EC’s continued insistence to deal with only the STL Company which failed to provide effective BVDs for the 2012 election.
Is it the EC’s intention to cause war in Ghana?
Warehouse facilities for BVDs
According to the committee report the biometric verification equipment and kits which were procured for the 2012 elections are in a deplorable state due to the absence of appropriate warehouse facilities. COFFTRE is shocked about the absence of a warehouse to keep such expensive machines before procuring them for the 2012 elections. Unfortunately, the EC did not indicate in its budgets, the cost of a new warehouse that will house the new BVDs. Also, if the EC wants to use the same bad kits for new registration in June, how are we sure there would be a credible registration? Again, what has happened to the earlier plans to purchase new equipments? We would like to know the state of the BVD’s and the Kits currently available, and the procurement processes the EC would use to acquire new equipments, and the time frame.
Currently, the EC has presented a budget of GH¢ 327,179,894 for 2014 to Parliament. Only GH¢ 141,082,137 was allocated with a balance of GH¢ 186,097,575 required to conduct the DLE. We are sure by now the balance has been paid to the EC to begin its work. If not, we urge the Minister of Finance, to speed up the process in ensuring that the EC is adequately resourced to begin its work as early as possible.
Government of Ghana (GoG) is funding majority of the budget using the Tax payer’s money. Now, considering the current hardship Ghanaians are going through, the mismanagement level of EC is overwhelming and need to be condemned by all. How can the EC be given $94 million dollars to buy BVDs and just a year after 2012 elections GoG has to provide funding for BVDs?
The fact that the EC is an independent body does not mean that it should conduct its operations behind a huge cloak of opacity. The EC cannot accomplish its mission without listening to diverse views from groups such as COFFTRE. The EC must not take for granted the stands taken by the biggest opposition party not to go to court again. The EC must be seen addressing some of the problems that resulted in the 2012 election dispute which pushed the elections to the next day, first time in the history of this country. By now, the EC should be thinking of a proper procedure for acquiring new BVDs from tried and tested companies. The EC must also be seen preparing itself in getting a new register.
In fact, we have no choice than to ensure that the right thing is done. Ghanaians cannot afford to destroy its hard earned democracy. We therefore call on the Peace Council, Christian Council, Civil Society Organisations, and Diplomatic Missions in Ghana to speak on these matters to ensure that peace is maintained in Ghana.
COFFTRE is again calling on the EC as a matter of urgency to immediately tell Ghanaians within one week how they intend to deal with the 2012 anomalies which included the blotted register that were sent to the Supreme Court, before any new registration is done.
COFFTRE would also like to use this opportunity to call the general public who believe Ghana must not go to war in 2016 to join the Coalition and become members.
Kenneth Agyei Kuranchie (National Convenor)- 0244206890
Joseph Otoo (National Coordinator) – 0207347137