Procurement Committee is a violation of Constitution - EC
Accra, Sept 26, GNA - The Electoral Commission (EC) on Friday said the appointment of a Procurement Committee by Government to supervise the purchase and supply of electoral materials for both the Voters' Registration Exercise and 2004 General Election is a complete violation of an entrenched provision in the 1992 Constitution. A statement jointly signed by Mr Henry W. Okyne, Director of Public Affairs on behalf of the Directorate and Mr Anthony Ekpedzor, Chairman of the EC Divisional Union of the Public Service Workers Union of the Trades Union Congress and Mr Fred Tetteh of the Senior Staff Association, called on all stakeholders to resist the establishment of the Committee. Quoting, Article 46 of the Constitution: "Except as provided in this Constitution or in any other law not inconsistent with this Constitution, in the performance of its functions, the Electoral Commission, shall not be subject to the direction or control of any person or authority."
This Constitutional provision has been restated in Section 7 of Act 451 of 1993 - the Act establishing the EC, which states: "The Commission may appoint such committees, as it considers necessary for the discharge of its functions. "A Committee appointed by the Commission may include non-members of the Commission but shall be chaired by a member of the Commission." The statement explained that the appointment of such a committees was the sole prerogative of the Commission, "the action of Government, in our view is a complete violation of an entrenched provision in the Constitution. We view the action of the Government as inappropriate". The Commission described Government's position as a "subtle attempt to direct, control and interfere in the Commission's functions as very unfortunate and must be resisted at all cost by civil society and all stakeholders". The EC also pointed out that the action of Government was unduly delaying the work of the Commission. The Commission's election calendar had had to be changed many times due to the Government's inability to release funds on time. It cautioned that any further delay in releasing funds might jeopardise the successful execution of the 2004 Presidential and Parliamentary programme.
The statement also expressed concern about media report quoting Nana Akomea, Minister of Information, at the weekly press encounter, dubbed: "Meet the Press" in Accra on Thursday.
The Commission said the Minister had created the erroneous impression that the Commission had agreed to the setting up of the Procurement Committee.
It noted that contrarily to the Minister's statement, "the Chairman of the Commission on September 19, 2003 in Accra had assured the staff at a durbar that a protest letter on the issue had been sent to Government".
"The Commission, it must be noted has its own tender Committee, which has been handling procurement for its activities over the years. It has also in place an internal audit section and in addition, external auditors audit the accounts of the Commission at regular intervals.
"If the Government in anyway suspects any malfeasance, it must come out and not hide behind the idea of ensuring transparency in the procurement process to stifle the independence and neutrality of the Commission or cast a slur on the integrity of the Commission," the statement said.