ROPAA for 2024? – Jean Mensa says NO!

Feature Article ROPAA for 2024? – Jean Mensa says NO!

At a meeting of Ghana’s Inter Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) in Accra on Thursday March 7, 2024, two of the forty-two attendees asked the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC), Mrs. Jean Mensa, questions on the implementation of the Representation of the People Amendment Act 2006 (ROPAA) for the 2024 elections, slated for December 7, 2024. The following are extracts from the Minutes of the March 7, 2024, IPAC meeting:

“7.2 Mr. Jude Balmer of the GCPP asked about the state of ROPAL.

The Chairperson Mrs. Jean Mensa stated categorically that the Commission does not have plans to implement ROPAL in the 2024 elections.

7.3 Mr. Adul Kadri Issa of the PNC also enquired if there was opportunity for Citizens living abroad and those on mission to participate in the 2024 general elections.”

The minutes do not indicate the EC’s response to the second question. Presumably, Chairperson Mensa’s first response was sufficient. Or there is a plan for the small number of Ghanaians working for Ghana missions to vote. This will be a discrimination against the larger community of Ghanaians Living Abroad (GLAs). Please do not address GLAs as “Diaspora.” That expression defaces Ghanaians and lumps GLAs into a sea of blurred origins that is the fate of our African American and Caribbean brethren from the tragic slave trade.

If the author sounds like a broken record, it is because some ONE must stand for principles and fight for decided human rights even if those who are legally entrusted with their implementation openly choose to defy constitution, parliamentary law, and court decisions.

In what capacity does the EC Chairperson Jean Mensa “categorically” state that her entity does not have plans to implement ROPAA for the 2024 election to extend the voting franchise to GLAs?

Article 42 of the 1992 Constitution- states that “every citizen of Ghana of eighteen years of age or above and of sound mind has the right to vote and is entitled to be registered as a voter for purposes of public elections and referenda.” The 1992 Constitution entrusts the processes of registration and voting to the EC. Where does it say that the EC can categorically and unilaterally decide not to plan for the inclusion of the estimated three million GLAs in Ghana’s voting exercises? The constitution bestows the task of voting to the EC. It does not give the EC the right to decide not to do its work.

Act 699 ROPAA February 24, 2006 –Ghana’s parliament passed the Act, and then President Kufuor assented on February 24, 2006. Act 699 did the following:

It expanded overseas voting by adding “registration of Ghanaian citizens abroad” and more specifically “*8. (1) A person who is a citizen of Ghana resident outside the Republic is entitled to be registered as a voter if the person satisfies the requirements for registration prescribed by law other than those relating to residence in a polling division.”

Under the subheading “Modalities for the implementation of the Act,” parliament gave the responsibility of implementation to the EC. “The electoral Commissioner shall by Constitutional Instrument, make Regulations to prescribe the modalities for the implementation of this Act.”

Where in Act 699 is the EC given the sole authority to categorically not plan for ROPAA implementation for 2024 or any year?

The Courts
What the Act failed to do, such as include an effective implementation date, the late Judge Anthony K. Yeboah (RIP) of the Accra High Court of Human Rights emphatically addressed with An Order of mandamus is hereby made and directed at all the Commissioners of the 1st Respondent and the Electoral Commission itself to uphold/ensure full compliance/operationalization of the Act 699 within calendar twelve (12) months reckoned from 1st January 2018 by having the constitutional instrument for the modalities for the implementation of Act 699 passed into law by Parliament and ensuring that the Applicants and similarly circumstanced Ghanaians are registered to vote in the 2020 national elections and subsequent such elections and referenda. “Pages 41-42 Item 5, Boateng et All vs the Electoral Commission and the Attorney-General, Suit # HR/003/2017, December 18, 2017.

His Lordship Anthony Yeboah left no doubt that the EC and all its commissioners should implement the assented law -Act 699 (ROPAA) effective the 2020 election year after “deliberately” failing to do so for the 2008, 2012, and 2016 general election cycles. Dear reader, where in the Judge’s order of mandamus (being legally required to do an act that one should have done) is the fiat given to the Electoral Commission and its chairperson, Mrs. Jean Mensa, to categorically decide to disobey the parliamentary act and the court order and not plan for the implementation of ROPAA for 2024? The element of time is the EC’s problem with no sympathies. They have had 18 years to implement Act 699!

By the court-ordered deadline of December 31, 2018, the EC had not submitted the required constitutional instrument (CI) to Ghana’s parliament for the implementation of ROPAA for the 2020 election. Therefore, in February 2019, the Applicants in HR/003/2017 and members of the nonpartisan and nonprofit Progressive Alliance Movement (PAM) based in New York filed a contempt of court against the Electoral Commission. The Chairperson of the EC, Mrs. Jean Mensa, pleaded for additional time and stated in her January 30, 2019, affidavit that the EC did not “delay the operationalization of Act 699 or disregard the orders of this Honourable Court…” Did the EC’s Chairperson deceive His Lordship Justice Nicholas M.C. Abodakpi to grant the requested one-year extension for his ruling on May 8, 2019? The EC gave the Corona19 virus as the reason for not implementing ROPAA in 2020. Is there a Corona Virus 2023 that we are not aware of for Mrs. Jean Mensah’s categorical refusal to continue to not implement ROPAA for 2024? The EC has never given the lack of funds as a reason for non-implementation. External donor agencies seeking to promote democracy fund a sizable portion of Ghana’s general elections costs.

It is not a secret that Ghanaian political leaders since President J.A. Kufuor and including leaders of both NPP and NDC tout Ghana being the “beacon of democracy” in a rough continent, while opting to consciously deny the voting franchise to their citizens living abroad who remit upwards of $5 billion a year to shore up the country’s economy. The political leaders of the two leading parties have aided and abetted the EC to openly ignore the law of the country and the rulings of its courts when it comes to ROPAA implementation. Why?

Because each party is afraid that implementation would disadvantage it. So long as the law stays on the books, and the judiciary is believed to be the third arm of Ghana’s democracy, some ONE or ONES has/have to press for ROPAA implementation and choose not to be silent. Ghana is 4 Us All. On March 24, 2010, the Ghana Supreme Court ruled that Ghanaian prisoners should be extended the voting franchise consistent with Article 42 of the Constitution, Prisoners cost the nation money. The free Ghanaians Living Abroad remit billions a year to the country. Prisoners vote. GLAs do not. The difference is that the ruling political parties are interested in perpetuating their interests and not the rights of GLAs even if their nods to the EC mean defying the constitution and laws of Ghana.

Africa is giddy about the March 2024 election of Bassirou Diomaye Faye as the new 44 year-old president of Senegal. Lost is the fact that Senegalese Living Abroad voted in the 2024 elections, and they have been doing so since 1993. African countries that have successfully implemented overseas voting without the countries falling apart include Côte d’Ivoire, Tunisia (since 1988), Niger, Liberia, South Africa (since 2013), South Sudan, Kenya, and Namibia (since 2014). Where is the Black Star in this line up? Where is the “Beacon of Democracy?”

GLAs- Unite and Demand Your Rights Now!
Dr. Kofi A. Boateng (aka Kofi ROPAA)
New York [email protected]