The Minority in Ghana’s Parliament has expressed what it said a revelation by the Electoral Commission (EC) to face out some registration centres in the country which will lead to denying some citizens an opportunity to register in the upcoming voter registration exercise.
Addressing the media after the Special Budgets Committee held a closed-door meeting with officials of the EC, Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu expressed worrying concerns about the responses allegedly given by the Chairperson of the Commission, Mrs Jean Mensah and described the responses as ‘’troubling for the future of the country’s democracy’’.
“Having listened to her, I feel profoundly troubled in my heart for the future of Ghana’s democracy and I feel disappointed that in her answers to questions at the committee level, she made two significant worrying statements that the people of Ghana must know,” Mr Haruna indicated.
The Tamale South Member of Parliament noted that Jean Mensa told the committee that the EC intends to phase out about 6,300 registration centres across the country.
“They intend to phase out the registration exercise in some 6,300 registration centres out of the 33,000 registration centres across the country…That troubles my heart because Article 42 will not be observed in essence and Ghanaians available would not be given the legitimate right they are entitled to.” He stated.
The Minority Leader also claimed that Mrs Jean Mensa said the Commission did not intend to use the data gathered by the National Identification Authority (NIA) from the Ghana Card registration, a decision he finds worrisome.
Additionally, Mr Haruna Iddrisu pointed out that the EC Chairperson ‘’doesn’t seem to understand the essence of data synchronization and data harmonizing. In her answers, she said they do not intend to use the data of the NIA. So what will they do with NIA?” he quizzed.
“They will use it only for purposes of identity so she does not understand what it means to share data, to synchronize or harmonise the data,” he added.
The Leader also indicated that beyond the meeting with the Special Budget Committee, the EC will be required to brief the Committee of the Whole to update Members of Parliament on the roadmap and plans for the 2020 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections.
The Electoral Commission however assured that no single legally qualified Ghanaian citizen would be left out of the upcoming voter registration exercise ahead of the 2020 general elections.
Reacting to the concerns raised by the Minority Leader, a Deputy Commissioner of the EC, Dr Bossman Asare, explained that there are 33,367 registration centres and out of that number, the registration exercise would be done in five cluster forms.
According to him each of the five clusters would be done in phases hence phase one would constitute about 6,000 registration centres and the same would be done to all the five clusters.
He explained that the 6,000 represent represents 20% of the 33,367 registration centres across the country therefore by the time they (EC) finishes with all the five clusters in phases, they may have captured all the 100% of the registration centres.
He assured Ghanaians that the EC is not reducing registration or the polling centres but will rather register Ghanaians in five clusters that are specific polling stations at a time.
Dr Bossman disclosed the EC will have a full-blown press conference in a few days to address all concerns with regards the new voter registration exercise.
The Deputy Commissioner also assured Ghanaians that adequate measures will be employed in order to make the exercise comfortable for all
The Electoral Commission has recently come under serious scrutiny, especially from some opposition political parties over its decision to compile a new voters’ register.
The EC has since been dragged to court by the largest opposition party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) particularly for excluding the use of the current voters’ ID from the list of proofs of identification.