The Director of Research, Monitoring and Evaluation of the Electoral Commission (EC), Mr Alexander Poku Akubia, has cautioned that the high level of mistrust, especially by some political parties towards the elections management body, has the potential to derail the success of the December 2020 polls.
He noted that the “unprecedented mistrust” which was evident in the country was also manifest among political parties and could undermine the effective management of the elections.
Mr Akubia was speaking at a day’s engagement with independent governance institutions of State. It was organised by the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs in Accra yesterday.
The engagement attracted the leadership of the EC, the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), the National Media Commission (NMC) as well as members of some civil society organisations.
It was on the theme: “Independent Governance Institutions and the 2020 Elections in Ghana: Some Reflections”.
Raising another source of a possible threat, Mr Akubia mentioned certain unprofessional acts of some media practitioners, including inaccurate reportage, the publication of fake news and the wrong usage of election terminologies.
He said the commission was aware that the nature of election management was complex because the stakeholders were many and diverse with an ever-expanding scope, adding that the onset of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, which had brought a new dimension to people’s way of life, had done same to the conduct of polls.
The director of research said the commission was aware of all the realities and new dimensions and was constantly putting in place measures to deal with the emerging issues and out of that it had raised the basic qualification of people who would work for the EC to the senior high school level.
He added that the commission was also offering longer periods of training for its staff who would manage the polls at various polling stations, while the new election equipment would also verify both fingerprints and facial details of voters.
The Majority Leader and the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, urged the EC to be cautious of the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure that instead of the intended 850 people for a polling station, the number was reduced to 600, to avoid overcrowding.
He reiterated his call for the involvement of Parliament in the selection of the chairmen and members of the EC because that approach would allow the committee members to be selected through bipartisan means, thus shedding the perennial cloak of mistrust and the perception of bias.
He noted that the issue of pushing the date for holding the general election (December 7) forward had come up for discussion as well as the abuse of incumbency in the election, especially when it came to space in the state-owned media and whether or not adequate payment was made for the use of state resources.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said the functions and effectiveness of the independent government institutions, among others, were critical issues that must be reviewed and gave an assurance that those and many others which were both structural and systemic, and could only be rectified in a constitutional amendment would be looked at.
The Minority Leader, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, said the country’s democracy was facing a twin threat of monetisation of the electoral process and the weaponisation of vigilante groups, which must be nipped in the bud to safeguard the democratic process.
He expressed worry that the EC was able to take him to the cleaners when he broke the news that the commission was going to purchase personal protective equipment (PPE) for the registration and said such attacks were uncalled for.
Mr Iddrisu commended the Majority Leader for his commitment to the cause of the independent constitutional bodies, especially the need for them to be adequately resourced.