The Upcoming NPP Parliamentary Primaries Amid COVID-19
There is a proposal that possibly the National Executive Committee (NEC) will choose Parliamentary Candidates for the constituencies. This can be very dangerous and the need should not be at all.
First, the right of choice is vested in the various eligible voters in the constituencies. No one should take the right to elect from them. That will be undemocratic. We increased the number of voters at the localities to empower them. We should never go backward and undermine this right.
Let us examine the basic premises of what the NPP General-Secretary said: "…Assuming this (COVID-19) gets worse so that it is impossible for us to have primaries at all and EC insists, they can put in place social distancing protocols to make it possible for us to vote on December 7 and we cannot hold primaries due to the ban on public gathering, the National Executive Committee (NEC) can take a decision as to who becomes a candidate … ".
If the Electoral Commission (EC) can put in place protocols to ensure a whole national election, why can’t NPP think out "relevant protocols" now to have smooth elections? Surely, NPP is capable of doing so and doing so NOW.
We need not wait one day longer. It is basically to satisfy the social distance and allied protocols – face masks, hand washing, sanitizers etc.
The voting can be done at the Zonal levels within the Constituencies. Our research shows that by the zones there are about averagely 60 delegates per zone. Let us remember at one time NPP delegates met nationally to choose the Presidential Candidate. This is no longer the case. It is all broken down. NPP can lead the way for lessons for the EC and the whole nation and indeed Africa.
We can easily learn from South Korea, where in the midst of Coronavirus, the nation held national election on one day, Wednesday 15 April, 2020. In fact the elections affected a 300 – seat Assembly. The turnout by simple arrangement was 66% - higher than any Parliamentary elections held in South Korea since 1992.
The people wore masks, one metre apart, moved slowly between lines of duck tape at polling stations, sanitised hands to separate polling booths etc. (sources: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-52304781 / https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/16/south-koreas-ruling-party-wins-election-landslide-amid-coronavirus-outbreak)
We can apply tents in open spaces etc. from which all Ghanaians, including the EC can learn lessons by the leading Democratic Party in Ghana.
This is a very simple matter and we should not forment trouble by simply doing anything that may look like a package to favour some favourites – the people will not accept.
Let us remember that that example given about a boycott in 1992 does not apply. That period, the 1992 Constitution had not come into force yet.
Furthermore, it was of general application. Everybody boycotted because we were going to be cheated. We should distinguish this from any selective choice or preference which could look discriminatory and therefore offend the anti-discrimination provisions of the 1992 Constitution. To summarise, Article 17(2) etc provide a person shall not be discriminated against for any reason whatsoever and whenever, an action smacks of discrimination, a burden shifts on the alleged offender to show everyone has received "fair" and "equal" treatment etc as our laws have clearly established.
As at today, a number of competitors have gone through an Application, Vetting and other processes including balloting and only awaiting voting. It is too late in the day when the horses have left the stables to bring in new rules and apply new measures etc.
The Party’s decision not to participate in a contest in a particular constituency was a general one which also affected everyone and we all know it was a political trade-off to gain relationship with the CPP against our main opponents. That is not the case here.
What the Party constitution provides on all four is not what is now being proposed at all.
The elections are all set. All processes concluded and must be held at once to avoid formenting unnecessary troubles. It is too late to introduce new rules into a completed process duly done by law established.
The 1992 Constitution mandates that in their internal affairs, political parties should abide by democratic principles. We should be seen to be doing so. And all democratic principles that the EC can follow amid COVID-19, we must also follow.
It will be dangerous if the NEC or any other person or authority attempt to decree otherwise at this stage, please. If there should be a disagreement at NEC how do they choose and the choice rather rest with the people? What is the legally defined process of choosing? Is it pre-determined or justiciable? Whom will it be representative of?
We all understand the dynamics of politics. We are all guided by the past. We don’t want any more injustices. We don’t want independent candidate syndrome. No skirt and blouse. No apathy which nearly cost us the 2004 elections and cost us dearly in 2008.
We should vote quietly in our democratic party and we take steps to heal all wounds as soon as possible after the elections. Every MP today was someday elected by delegates. Power to the delegates, we have all said and will continue to say.
There is no alternative to democratic rule.