Common Purpose Alliance Ghana (CPAG) has received with mixed feelings the news that some five presidential aspirants have been disqualified from contesting the December 2020 presidential elections by the Electoral Commission (EC).
This follows the failure by the individuals and parties in question to satisfy all the filing requirements stipulated for the upcoming election 2020. In as much as we welcome the news and the fact that the EC has suddenly found its teeth, we equally consider it hypocritical and selective. We find it worrying and dangerous that the EC has decided to engage in such a contrived or ill-fated implementation of the electoral laws.
The EC has the mandate, guaranteed by the 1992 constitution and the political parties’ law, Act, 574, to sanction all individuals and/or political parties that fail to abide by its rules and regulations, but that must be done fairly and evenly.
We outrightly condemn and reject this attempt by the EC to pick and choose which electoral laws to enforce or not enforce; likewise, we call on all Ghanaians to join us in our quest to get the EC to fully implement our electoral laws, particularly, key sections of Act 574.
In August 2015, CPAG wrote to the EC demanding among other things the EC’s exercise of its regulatory powers over political parties as envisioned by the 1992 Constitution and the Political Parties Law, Act 574, (2000), and compel all political parties to declare their assets, expenditure, liabilities, and audited accounts, and cause same to be published for the benefit of the good people of Ghana.
We referred specifically to Part II – Operation of Political Parties, sections 13 & 14 of the Act which deals with declaration of assets and expenditure by political parties, and declaration of assets, liabilities, and expenditures in relation to elections.
We further demanded that within 30 days, the Commission confirms receipt of all the declarations and audited accounts of all Political Parties from 1992 to date as the Constitution and Act 574 anticipate.
In a similar fashion, we demanded that the commission fully publish all such declarations and audited accounts. It was and is still our conviction that Political Parties found to have violated the law should have their registrations cancelled accordingly by the EC. We also demanded that the Commission, in concert with the relevant state agencies, should take all steps practical to investigate all Political Parties and their sources of funding over the past two decades.
After two reminders, the EC finally responded to our communique in October 2015 in a rather lame manner claiming that the “Commission has already taken a decision on the matter; which is that with effect from 1st January 2016 it will fully enforce all the provisions of the Political Parties Law, 2000, Act 574.” We wrote back to the Commission indicating that we view their response as an admission of failure and a dereliction of duty.
After a series of letters to the Commission putting pressure on them to enforce the law and requesting a meeting, the Commission finally invited CPAGMoC to a meeting on 5th August 2016 through a letter dated 4th August 2016. At the meeting, we insisted that all the parties were complicit hence the need for the EC to impose the relevant sanctions as stated in the law.
The EC Director of Elections admitted the obvious breach of the law by the parties as well as the failure of the EC to call them to order but maintained that they have been unable to strictly enforce all the provisions of the law because they feared it will result in a political vacuum.
He further explained that they will require more time to audit the accounts that some of the parties have submitted in order to determine the most appropriate steps to take. It must be pointed out that at the said meeting, the EC officials were candid enough to admit the ECs inaction over the years. We left the meeting with the understanding that the EC will swiftly work on the submitted audited accounts and publish them as required by law, and demanded by us.
Five years have passed since that meeting and the EC has not taken any concrete action or step toward truly and properly enforcing the electoral laws of Ghana. We contend that the ECs refusal to act is a manifest dereliction of its duties which must not be allowed to continue as we inch closer toward a major general election.
Based on the foregoing, CPAG is at a loss in respect of the current move by the EC to disqualify some candidates for their inability to meet some of the requirements when all the political parties without exception have consistently breached the constitution and the Political Parties Law, 2000, Act 574. We agree that there is the need for disqualification but we disagree with the selective manner in which the EC is enforcing the laws – indeed it is our position that all the Political Parties have breached the Constitution and Act 574 hence stand disqualified from contesting any public election. We are by this release calling on the EC to immediately revoke the registration of all the political parties and declare them unqualified to contest the December 2020 general election.
The purpose of these provisions on declarations in our laws is to curb corruption, and it is common knowledge that in a 'poor' nation like ours, collectively or individually candidates are forced to take millions of dollars in loans and in other forms in order to raise funds to execute a campaign; many engage in direct bribery in cash and/or gifts to delegates, chiefs, and voters to influence the process.
It is for this reason that the framers of the constitution inserted these provisions as a means of accountability. The EC should therefore either choose to enforce all the laws or ignore them till a future date when they feel they can live up to enforce the laws of the land and justify their own existence and purpose for which the taxpayer pays them.
CPAG&IVA Communication Team.