In recent times many opinion leaders from all walks of life; labour groups, academia and civil society and political parties are expressing worry and fear over the performance of the Electoral Commission headed by Madam Jean Mensah. Notable among them are Mr. Abraham Koomson, the Secretary General of the Ghana Federation of Labour, Political Scientist Dr. Amakye Boateng, The Founder of the All People’s Party Dr. Seidu Jasaw and the General Secretary of the main opposition NDC Johnson Asiedu Nketia. The former President John Dramani Mahama has also cautioned the new EC not to turn the electoral body into a secret society but to ensure transparency in the management of the activities leading to the 2020 elections.
Political Scientist Dr. Amakye Boateng on a local radio station monitored by MyNewsGh.com has attacked the posture and conduct of the Chairperson Madam Jean Mensah accusing her of destroying the solid foundation built by her immediate two predecessors. The founder and leader of the All People’s Party and a lecturer at the Wa Campus of the University of Development Studies UDS has also said, public utterances and conduct of the EC Chair and a deputy could ruin the democratic dispensation of the nation.
The General Secretary of the NDC Johnson Asiedu Nketia on his part questioned why the EC Chair is making moves to handover the database of the Voter’s Register to a Ghanaian company without due consultation with the political parties among other criticisms. In his words he said “ As we speak she has gone for a Ghanaian owned company and the people behind the company have their political affiliations and she wants to cancel the STL deal and handover the key to a Ghanaian to the manage database of the voters’ register without any discussion with the political parties.”
The General Secretary further stated that and I quote, “ We are not going to sit idly-by and wait for the Electoral Commission to do all the wrong things only for us to be rejecting results,” when speaking on Kasapa FM Thursday May 30. In relation to the upcoming Limited Registration Mr Asiedu Nketia stated and reported on Ghana Web of April 26, that the posturing of the EC Chair Jean Mensah is fast becoming a threat to the commission and to the country’s democracy.
The Executive Director of Alliance for Social Equity and Public Accountability (ASEPA) indicates that the Appointment of Charlotte Osei to the UN as a Commissioner of Elections is a confirmation of the illegitimacy of her removal from office by government.
“Electoral Commission Chairs came and went but the way Jean Mensah came is extraordinary”. This is extraordinary because of the rushed manner in which it was carried out.”
According to the MP for Tonu North Honorable Samuel Okudzeto-Ablakwa, suspicions about Madam Jean Mensah’s neutrality are rife because of the manner in which she came into office as the EC Chair and her posture towards the minority, Speaking on Metro TV Morning Show on Thursday May 30. He cited her attack on NDC members in a recent IPAC meeting as unfortunate. He suggested “if you carry double baggage you should rather assure stakeholders of fairness that will build confidence.”
One could sense the weakness of the allegations against the former Chair, Charlotte Osei besides, it was said that a dead man was part of the petitioners accusing her of the alleged infractions. President Akuffo-Addo and his party while in opposition maligned her in many ways well known to Ghanaians and have succeeded in removing her when assuming power.
Today Charlotte Osei has been vindicated by the numerous international appointments and awards the most current being UN International Elections Commissioner which was described as a testament to her reputation and dedication to the delivery of free and fair elections in the developing nations. This follows a recent appointment as member of the ECOWAS Elections Observer Team that monitored the 2019 Nigerian Presidential Election.
The replacement of Charlotte Osei with Jean Mensah has been met with suspicion especially from the main opposition party and the EC Chair need to do more to win the confidence of all. Some of her recent comments and posture in the public space did not go down well with many. Some of these are on the recent Ayawaso Elections and her reaction towards CODEO report.
The E C Chair dismissed any issues of electoral flaws when she appeared before the Emile Short Commission. She attacked the CODEO Report on the Ayawaso Elections. Her encounter with the opposition NDC during an IPAC meeting in which she denied there were issues of confrontation, baffled many observers. The perception can be observed from comments from the public on these issues in the media, most prevalent TV, Radio and Social Media.
Many were also not happy with her position on videos showing Electoral Officers involved electoral malpractices during the recent referendum to create six new regions when electoral officers were seen engaging in multiple voting at some polling stations. This was also shown on most Ghanaian TV stations.
Electoral office, being a sensitive institution needs a leadership with doubtless impartiality to build confidence of the electorate that would guarantee peace in elections. This is why I owe Abraham Koomson a large volume of respect for advising the Electoral Commission and the National Identification Authority over what he described as hasty decisions to undertake concurrent mass registration exercises that appear to create suspicion and mistrust. In an interview with the Ghana News Agency the General Secretary said issues surrounding Ghana Card registration and the EC’s Limited Voter Registration must be properly handled as their “Bad Judgment” could have unfavorable consequences.
He said it was worrying hearing news on malpractices such as setting up registration offices in the night and at unauthorized places. Mr. Koomson said it was in the interest of the EC and the NIA not to create suspicion of conspiracy to manipulate the system for possible election rigging in the 2020 elections. He added that “if civil society becomes suspicious of conspiracy of the institutions to manipulate the system and rig the elections, certainly there will be resistance and revolt”.
All well meaning Ghanaians must take steps to promote fairness and justice and support efforts at preventing unhealthy incidents to avoid disaster in 2020 which all can become victims of greedy interests. We must not allow situations to degenerate to warrant ligation because most of our institutions especially the Criminal Investigations Department of the Ghana Police had been on several collision paths over issues of fairness with the main opposition Party NDC, a major stakeholder in the 2020 elections. By this, any justice delivery interventions can hardly be welcome as sincere by one party to the dispute. The CID Director herself has been accused of being loyal to the ruling NPP from her alleged cover-up attempt in a said engagement with a member of NPP; A Plus who is now a staunch critique of government, suggested corruption in high places mentioning the presidency of Akufo-Addo led government.
If justice and fairness are not guaranteed to win the trust of the people, events naturally can degenerate into a situation no Ghanaian would like to taste. Prevention they say is better than cure. This would be saving mother Ghana needless nightmare. God save Mother Ghana. Long Live Peaceful Mother Ghana.