The Acting General Secretary of the Convention Peoples Party, (CPP) James Kwabena Bomfeh affectionately called Kabila, has called all democracy lovers to endorse and support the Electoral Commission’s (EC) decision to acquire a new Biometric Voter Management System (BVMS) ahead of the 2020 election.
He has, therefore, urged persons who oppose the laudable initiative by the EC come up with superior alternatives
“Let those with direct superior alternatives raise them and manage what is said as well as how it is said. Otherwise, let all democracy lovers endorse and support the EC for this initiative,” Kwabena Bomfeh stated in an opinion piece titled: “Of the EC, BVMS, and Resistance.”
Some political parties and Civil Society Organizations have condemned the EC’s move, saying it’s a waste of time. The largest opposition party in the country, the NDC and some smaller have embarked on two demonstrations against the compilation of new register within a space of two weeks
However, Mr. Bomfeh, who has been the Director of Elections for the CPP since 2011,
demonstrations and Press Statements/Conferences are legitimate ways to express dissent or drawing attention to grievances but they have limitations when it comes to stopping the EC from embarking on any approved programmed of activities.
“As a demonstrator with some record, I would not contemplate deprecating demonstrations but, they become noisy without focus and coordination to overall objectives. The EC has on no occasion said that they are procuring a new BVMS because the present BVR is discredited. So those making that unfounded claim should know that there is no productivity in intellectual masturbation. Or are these demonstrations a test/rehearsal of the strength a party can garner? Or, could it also be a resource mobilizing avenue as the case might be?” he stated.
According to him, historically, the authority and mandate of Ghana’s Electoral Commission have been exercised under Articles 43, 44, 45, 46 and the Electoral Commission Act, 1993; Act 451 since 1993 with limited or no use of technology. “This meant that the EC relied mostly on human judgments which were susceptible to manipulations and abuses thereby questioning the integrity of election outcomes. Elections are organized on the principle of ONE PERSON – ONE VOTE”
“But, without technology and solely relying on the human factor, this sacred principle was trite betrayed. Once individuals could register in multiples and stay on the register in multiple terms, automatically there could be multiple voting by same persons or a misrepresentation or identity swap voting. This had to give way for something better and reliably credible,” he said.
According to the EC, it will save as much as GHC170 million with the acquisition of the new Biometric Voter Management System (BVMS). It explained that the total cost of maintaining the old Biometric System is $74, 364, 500 while the total cost for new BVMS system is estimated at $56,000,000. These include Biometric Voter Registration Kits (BVR) kits and the Biometric Verification Devices (BVD).
Giving a further breakdown of the cost of the entire process, it said the total cost of using the old BVR system for the 2020 election is $38, 692,500.00. This includes; the cost of refurbishment of some BVR kits used in 2016 and the acquisition of new ones. The number of kits used in the 2016 registration was 5,500 and the number of kits that were refurbishable was 1,500 and the unit cost of refurbishment was $3500, pegging the total cost of refurbishment at $5,250,000. The EC further posits that the nation also needs an additional 6500 kits at a unit cost of $5145, pegging the total cost of additional kits at 33,442,500.
However, for the new system, the number of BVR kits required for the 2020 election is 8,000 at a unit cost of $3,000.00, pegging the total cost for the new BVR @$24,000000.
Similarly, the EC intends to acquire some 80,000.00 BVD kits at a unit cost of $400.00 making a total of $32M compared to the $ 35,672,000.00 if it takes the path of refurbishing and purchasing additional BVDs from the previous vendor.
Furthermore, the EC opted against the proposal of the previous vendors to upgrade and refurbish their current datacenters and its equipment for a combined build and 1-year maintenance cost of $ 19M for completely new datacenters equipment with current systems for a combined build and 3-year maintenance cost of $7M.