Do you know that a process to remove the Chair Person of the Electoral Commission of Ghana from office has been initiated by the Chief Justice?
But what are the reasons for this move by the ruling government and the Chief Justice? They are still not clear to most of us!
According to the electoral commissioner, Mrs Shallot Osei herself, she still doesn’t know her accusers! If this is true, where is the fairness?
Anyway, there are rumours that the petition for the impeachment of Madam Shallot Osei was sent to the President of the Republic by two drivers of the Electoral Commission – which is quite strange to me.
I’m just wondering what these drivers know about Ghana’s procurement processes; and how they managed to know that the process has been breached to warrant a petition for her removal. Because I hear one of the accusations is that she did not follow procurement procedures.
In my opinion, what is happening to this woman is not only about her; but all women in Ghana . It is a general attack on women’s right to political participation and our quest of gender equality in public life in Ghana.
It seems some people just don’t believe a beautiful woman can be competent enough to handle a top public office. That’s why her appointment was met with awful harassment and insults in the media.
I recall how her appointment was met with so much opposition simply because of her gender.
Indeed, she was maliciously accused of getting the position by offering sexual favours to the then president; regardless of the fact that she is a married woman.
All that some of us want is that the security and development of this nation must not be sacrificed on the altar of parochial interests.
The good book says: “All things are permissible but not all things are expedient.” The government may have all the powers to remove her, but to what effect?
Instead of trying to remove the EC Boss, who just organized a very successful election in 2016, the government should be making tangible efforts to cure the growing gender inequality in the country.
The Order of the Day: Boomerangs & Wrong Precedents
We wish to express our condolences to the family of Captain Maxwell Mahama, the army officer who was lynched and burnt to death by angry youth of Denkyra-Obuasi in the central region. The unfortunate gruesome killing of this Army officer brings to mind the kind of acts of widespread lawlessness that we’ve been witnessing around the country since power changed hands after the 2016 general elections.
When several ordinary innocent citizens were attacked by political vigilantes most people kept quiet. Today everybody is outraged at the barbaric acts of those villagers who murdered Captain Maxwell Mahama. But when these things first started, with attacks on innocent workers at NHIS offices and toll booths nobody cared much about the plight of the affected victims nor were the perpetrators brought to book. This was simply because the victims were just ordinary citizens. It was only when the judiciary was attacked in Kumasi that people started asking questions; even then, the perpetrators were recently set free for lack of evidence.
Is Ghana still operating under the rule of law, where everyone is supposed to be equal before the law?
This kind of happenings in the country is a cause of worry for us at Stand Ghana and should be for all well-meaning Ghanaians. When impunity becomes the order of the day what can ordinary vulnerable citizens do?
My former Political Science Lecturer Prof. Mike Aaron Ocquaye (now the speaker of parliament) used to tell us that, policies and actions always boomerang – explaining how Nkrumah’s Preventive Detention Act (PDA) boomeranged against his own ministers some of who ended up being sent to jail by the same PDA.
When political vigilante groups were misbehaving against ordinary citizens and abusing their rights and nothing was done others are emboldened to engage in similar acts. Now it’s the military that is at the receiving end! This is highly unacceptable in a democracy. And it must be stopped. Because, our peace and security is at stake.
What kind of precedents and standards are we setting for tomorrow? Is it one of abuse of power, sacking of public service workers with impunity, discrimination, lawlessness and the like? Let’s be honest. Is this the kind of society we want to build?
The executive, legislators, media, civil society and all other actors within the state must remember that the actions being taken and policies they make today are all setting PRECEDENTS for the future.
That is why we are calling on all, not just the authorities, that we should all be very careful and circumspect in our dealings with our fellow human beings. Let everyone be treated with decorum and respect. And as responsible citizens, we should also be careful the kind of actions and policies we support simply because we think it’s meant for our opponents. Because, whatever we do today will boomerang whether we like it or not.
Is it possible that spoilt ballots could be another way some people choose to express their will during general elections in Ghana?
Electoral actors in Ghana have been worried for some time now about the incidence and percentage of spoilt ballots at our general elections.
These spoilt or rejected ballots are normally seen as mistakes made by ignorant, illiterate voters who didn’t know how to exercise their franchise.
But it has emerged that not all rejected ballots are spoilt ballots as far as some voters are concerned. We have reason to believe that some rejected ballots are in fact a rejection of all the candidates or issues on the ballot paper by some voters.
We know for a fact that the Electoral Commission of Ghana has been struggling to stop the phenomenon of having too many rejected ballots without much success so far.
At the 2012 general elections for example, there was about 2.8% of total votes declared spoilt and rejected. This means the rejected ballots were not countered for any of the candidates contesting for the presidency or parliamentary seats at the time.
Furthermore, the NCCE (National Commission on Civic Education), which is the national institution responsible (among others) for providing civic education in the country to ensure people make informed decisions on election days, has come under serious condemnation for doing too little to educate the public on how to cast their votes properly.
But the big question is, is it the case that all of the so called “rejected ballots” are truly spoilt ballots? Also, have the relevant institutions researched enough into understanding why we keep getting spoilt ballots at every General Election?
We ask these questions because information reaching us shows that not all rejected ballots are due to mistakes or ignorance on the part of the voter. To some people, that is the best way to express how they feel if they do not like any of the candidates on the ballot paper.
According to one lady from a suburb of Accra in an interview with our officers, on political participation in Ghana during the 2012 general elections, some parliamentary candidates in her constituency offered her money in a bid to influence her decision as to who to vote for.
She said she got irritated and decided to thumb print for both of them since in her opinion none was qualified to have her mandate. She also stated that she knew absolutely well that thumb printing for two candidates on the same ballot paper is not acceptable and would be rejected by the electoral commission, but decided to do so anyway.
This shows that not all so called spoilt ballots are actually spoilt in the view of the voter. Because for some people, it is not that they don’t know how to cast their vote properly per the EC’s regulations and procedures, it’s simply their way of expressing their will as to how to effect political change.
In our view, if this category of voters does it deliberately and freely to signify their dissatisfaction or displeasure with the options presented to them; then they are entitled to that.
Although the EC and other stakeholders might not be happy about this lady’s method of effecting change or otherwise, as far as she is concerned, it is her decision and her right.
Article 21(1) of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights clearly states that “Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.” This obviously indicates that the individual voter is at liberty to reject any one or all of the candidates if he or she so desires.
Of course no one can deny the fact that not all spoilt ballots can be the result of deliberate action by voters. There may be genuine mistakes due to lack of knowledge about the right way to cast a vote. Yet, one can also deduce from this lady’s confession that a portion of all rejected votes could be deliberate choices and this must be acknowledged and treated as such.
The message to all stakeholders therefore is that, the illiterate voter is not always as dumb as some think. And, not all rejected ballots are mistakes – some of them are done deliberately by people who know what they are doing.
Perhaps, it is high time we start thinking of incorporating “OTHERS” as an option on the ballot paper, to cater for those who do not like any of the candidates presented by the political parties. This way, political parties will possibly be compelled to present to the electorates very good candidates, not just any personality; and we may also be able to reduce the number of spoilt votes at the next general election. What do you think?
By Rose-Mary Kayi (Executive Director of Stand Ghana)