The 2012 presidential candidate of the Progressive People’s Party (PPP), Dr Papa Kwesi Nduom, has criticised the Electoral Commission (EC) for not fully carrying out its constitutional mandate.
He observed that the EC had largely limited its activities to the preparation of the voters register and the conduct of elections and neglected its mandate of overseeing and ensuring that the activities of all political parties conformed to the dictates of the 1992 Constitution.
18 Months to elections
Dr Nduom, who was speaking in an interview with the Daily Graphic in Accra yesterday, said with barely 18 months to the 2016 general election, good governance was being undermined by the inaction of the EC to effectively monitor the activities of political parties.
That, according to him, had resulted in the electorate not getting the best from the political parties.
He said the EC has so far registered and recognises 24 political parties, with a new kid on the political block, the United Progressive Party (UPP), currently awaiting final certification.
“Many out of that number are either moribund or inactive, while some of them only surface during elections,” Dr Nduom said.
He said apart from the two dominant parties, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP), which have a visible presence in the regional capitals with functional regional offices, many of the political parties had no presence in the regional capitals, not to talk about the constituency level.
He said even the NDC and the NPP were not visible at the constituency level, except during elections.
Dr Nduom said Ghana had more or less become a two-party state, which means it will be extremely difficult for any group to achieve electoral success under the banner of any other party apart from the NDC and the NPP.
Parties in Ghana
The parties in Ghana are the Democratic Freedom Party (DFP), the Democratic People’s Party (DPP), the Every Ghanaian Living Everywhere (EGLE) Party, the Ghana Democratic Republican Party (GDRP), the Great Consolidated Popular Party (GCPP) and the Ghana Freedom Party (GFP).
Others are the Ghana National Party (GNP), the Independent People’s Party (IPP), the NDC, the National Democratic Party (NDP), the NPP of the Danquah/Busia/Dombo tradition, the National Reform Party (NRP), the New Vision Party (NVP) and the People’s National Convention (PNC).
The rest are the Progressive People’s Party (PPP), the Reformed Patriotic Democrats (RPD), the United Development System Party (UDSP), the United Front Party (UFP), the United Ghana Movement (UGM), the United Love Party (ULP), the United Renaissance Party (URP), the YES People’s Party (YPP) and the Ghana Redevelopment Party (GRP).
Functions of EC
According to Article 45 of the 1992 Constitution, the functions of the EC, among other responsibilities, are to compile the register of voters, demarcate the electoral boundaries and conduct and supervise all public elections and referenda.
Article 55 also enjoins the EC to, among many other functions, ensure that political parties have a national character, have branches in all the regions of Ghana and, in addition, are organised in not less than two-thirds of the districts in each region.
Political parties are also required by law to declare to the public their revenues and assets and to publish annually for the public their audited accounts, among other duties.
According to Dr Nduom, who is also the President and chairperson of Groupe Nduom, a conglomerate, it was worrying that the EC had largely resigned itself to the compilation of the voters register, the demarcation of electoral boundaries and the conduct and supervision of public elections and referenda, while woefully failing to ensure that the capacities of political parties were strengthened.
He, therefore, challenged the EC to live up to its holistic constitutional mandate to ensure the attainment of good governance in the country.
He said with barely 18 months to the 2016 general election, the commission must live up to its responsibility by having a clearly defined timetable of what it was routinely doing to strengthen the capacities of political parties, as well as ensure free, fair and transparent elections.
For instance, he wondered why in between elections, the EC was not seen to be educating the people on the electoral process and its purpose, undertaking programmes to sustain the integrity of the voters register and determining the calibre of persons who would man the polling stations as polling officers and presiding officers.
He also wondered whether all the political parties had had their accounts audited and whether the EC was making sure that the political parties law was being adhered to.
“There are a whole lot of activities that the EC needs to engage in and it must be seen to be doing and not necessarily wait till the last minute to rush through electoral reforms and programmes,” he stated.
Next EC chair
On who becomes the next chairman of the EC, as its current chairman, Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, proceeds on retirement next month, Dr Nduom advised the appointing authorities — the Council of State and the President — to avoid appointing a partisan- focused chairman, saying, “Such a delicate appointment must be done carefully, bearing in mind that the integrity of the Commission is what is at stake.”
“If they put up a partisan- focused person as the next Chairman for the EC, you can expect that there will not be peace, since no political party will tolerate any form of cheating,” he added.