A group made up of those against a new register and those for a new register met to brainstorm and debate to find solutions and make recommendations on the 2020 election. The Caucus for Democratic Governance, Ghana ( CDG-Gh) which is also looking for solutions, decided to collate the solutions and recommendations.
Both sides agreed that the EC`s appointment, to replace her predecessor led to polarization on party lines. Many thought Madam Jean Mensah`s strong NPP background, will obliterate fairness and neutrality.. There were others who suggested she is too focused on new voter`s register. There were others who said the register has names of dead people. A few others suggested the register is not credible; yet others suggested the register is credible but has been stretched.
Be it as it may, these are individual or group opinions of Ghanaians and must be respected. Between time and space, a few things have happened. There has been demonstrations, there has been procurement processes which was boycotted by IPAC; there has been a meeting of EC, IPAC and the Advisory Council of EC. There has been attempts by EC to train its registration agents; there has been attempts by NIA in spite of partial lockdown to continue registration in the Eastern Region; the EC has also laid a Constitutional instrument (CI ) before Parliament. The CI is expected to give legal backing to the EC to compile a new register. It was later withdrawn and is expected to be laid anew; and lastly the deadly COVID-19.
Invariably COVID-19 took all the attention of the President, the Nation Ghana and the whole world. World Health Organization as a result of deadly corona virus became the centre of medical directions. Soon election 2020 and the new biometric register became secondary; subject to directions on COVID-19. On the basis of this new variable, leadership of Electoral Commission led by Madam Jean Mensah suspended the training of registration officers till further notice. Meanwhile, those who initially supported ECs decision to compile a new voters register are gradually getting worried.
SET DOWN DATE
Sometime in March, the EC set April 18th as the date for the begin of the registration of the new register. However,
1. due to the corona virus and its corresponding partial lockdown in Greater Accra, Kumasi and its environs,
2. due to the President`s order banning social gathering and enforcing corresponding social distancing.
3. due to the total closure of our borders (land, sea and air ways); this set down date of 18th April cannot work.
ANALYSIS IN LEADERSHIP
Since the national election day, for all times, is constant (does not change), the variables, within time are also limited; that is, you cannot freely change the set down dates. With eight months to election, the time factor is obviously not on the side of the Electoral Commission. Registration of voters, no matter how fast, will have to take into consideration social distancing and the partial lockdown. The procurement of equipment and its delivery and simulation (according to manufacturing Companies) can take several months.
The exhibition of register for verification by the public, can also take time. The withdrawal of the Constitutional Instrument (CI) before Parliament might plunge the EC into irreversible Constitutional crises. Leadership is always guided by a sense of stewardship to the people and not guided on the basis of winners or losers. EC leadership decision is required.
DECISION IN LEADERSHIP
The decision by Madam Jean Mensah and his team to suspend registration, until further notice is a move in the right direction. If COVID-19 and its corresponding obligatory partial lockdown and social distancing will not allow training of registration staff; if the few months left will not allow fair and impartial conduct of registration, then there is the need for concrete decision. Besides the country as a result of COVID-19, has increased expenditure.
The GRA is losing about 20% of its revenue as a result of shut down at ports. National Finance is struggling. Astute legal experts, advise the EC to drop the idea of a new voters register and concentrate on the current register for the December elections.
Projections of leadership qualities of past and present ECs are all guided by a sense of stewardship to the people and the understanding of the objectives of leadership appointment, which in this case includes preventing the country from plunging into Constitutional crisis. It is therefore in the right direction to pull out of the trajectory and find the best possible alternative solution.
Managing Director, CDG-Gh