Ghana’s biggest opposition party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) is calling for the amendment of the 1992 Constitution to reflect the 10-year-old recommendations of the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC).
“We would urge His Excellency the President to accept the interpretation of the Apex Court (Supreme Court) as the correct interpretation of the Constitution and the law and proceed to urgently activate the processes for the early implementation of the constitutional reforms as set out by the constitutional reform committee on 20th December 2011″
Speaking to journalists at a press conference in Accra on
Tuesday, August 24, 2021, Chairman of NDC Electoral Reform Committe, Nana Ato Dadzie, said “The NDC’s reform proposals, together with the supplementary reform proposals that may be submitted, are intended to be used to undertake a dispassionate and open discussion and review of the EC’s operations. They are aimed at contributing to a national conversation on electoral reforms against the background of critical and lingering cross-party dissatisfaction with the electoral process”.
Below are the key proposals made by the NDC:
The continuous registration of voters system already approved by IPAC and accepted by the EC must be implemented. However, for reasons of cost and convenience, the registration should be undertaken at the district offices of the EC once a month on the last Friday of every month.
The mandatory requirement for the publication of applicants for recruitment as temporary EC staff for registration of voters and for elections and for allowing the public to object to applicants who have questionable backgrounds or have overt partisan biases must be strictly complied with.
The EC should make sure that recruitment for the various categories of election officials is made as non-partisan as possible, with the available positions being advertised and non-partisan and competent persons being selected after interviews.
The list of all polling stations to be used for an election with their names, code numbers and locations should be published in the Gazette and as supplements in the state-owned newspapers not later than 30 days to the election.
The Regional Collation Centre should be abolished.
The voting period of 7 am to 5 pm should be maintained.
The EC should establish Election Adjudication Committees (EACs) at the national and constituency levels as administrative-dispute-resolution mechanisms for first instance grievances against decisions and actions of election officials.
The EC should be required to publish details of all election results on polling stations by polling stations and constituency by constituency basis on its website and in the Gazette.
There must be a public broadcast of the Presidential vote collation process at the EC Head Office as and when the constituency Presidential results are received and certified.
Stakeholder engagement proposals
The silence of the reform proposals on the issue of the increasing “monetisation” of electoral politics in Ghana is deafening.
The proposed Office of the Regulator of Political Parties (ORPP) should be re-designated “Multi-Party Democracy Commission (MPDC) with an expanded mandate to address the pathologies of the political system and to monitor the health of Ghana’s democracy, especially in periods in between elections.
The proposed name of the ORPP should be changed to “Political Parties Regulatory Commission” (PPRC). There should be a cap on political party funding for electoral campaigns.
The NDC’s engagement with stakeholders should be broadened into a “National Consultation on Electoral Reforms”. The membership of the EC should be technocratic rather than political, with the membership positions being advertised, candidates interviewed and the most suitable persons appointed.
There should be criteria to sieve out registered but inactive and moribund political parties and political parties that do not appear to be serious from the electoral process and from membership of the IPAC.
The proposed Election Adjudication Committees (EACs) should be given a time frame within which to finish their work. The NDC should keep faith with Ghanaians and implement its reform proposals when it finds itself in government and the proposals have not been implemented at that time.
The NDC may wish to secure the buy-in of other political parties before the proposals are tabled at a meeting of either the EC or the IPAC.
The military must not be deployed in civilian elections under any circumstances whatsoever.
The Legal and Technical Sub-Committees of the IPAC should be revived when the IPAC is restructured and becomes fully functional. If official legislative backing for the IPAC proves difficult, an MP or MPs should sponsor a Private Member’s Bill to that effect. There should be a mechanism to reduce the incidence of “spoilt ballots” during elections.
The NDC is not the only organisation calling for an amendment of the Constitution.
A few weeks ago, Dr Abu Sakara Foster, founder of the National Interest Movement (NIM), a non-partisan civil society organisation that pursues the national interest for the greater common, said there is “no contradiction between fixing Ghana and fixing the 1992 Constitution”.
The former presidential candidate of the CPP told Blessed Sogah on Class91.3FM’s 505 news programme on Thursday, 5 August 2021 in an interview that the “Constitution is the basis for all other things and if you close all the loopholes and open proper exits for certain actions around a binding vision, you will have much more effective and efficient development with less wastage and that means that you are able to achieve those things that people are crying for and in the order of the priority they are crying for them in a better way”. That way, Dr Abu Sakara noted, “the element of continuity is taken care of; secondly, there are other things that need to be done, it’s not just the national development plan. You need to limit the excessive powers of the executive, like leaving it with the powers it needs but taking from it the powers and influence it should not have”.
“You should deconcentrate the power of the executive by strengthening independent constitutional bodies in a manner in which they are appointed independently by a known, designated national body that is also independent of the executive and they are funded directly through levies and their operations cannot be controlled by the executive,” he proposed.
He noted that “if you do it this way, you won’t have a director of public prosecution who it takes about two years to fund”.
Secondly, Dr Abu Sakara noted, “you have to decentralise development decision-making from the centre to local government but not in the many many local governments that we have today which have no economies of scale”. “We have to rethink that whole idea and bring the local government to an economy of scale, probably at the level of the existing 16 regions … help them to create up to 30 so that the existing districts will be called sub-districts and local government will be at that level where you have the manpower, you have the economies of scale and then you can target a certain amount of money to be mandatorily injected into them every year as a revenue something”.
“This is what other people have done; they’ve resisted temptation of collecting all the money between the legs of the minister of finance and ten sharing it as and when money becomes available…” he noted.
NIM acts as a think tank in concert with other CSOs as associate members under an umbrella platform.
NIM’s associate members include the National Association of Non-Aligned Voters, United Movement for Change, People’s Democratic Movement, Third Force and Ghana First Platform. NIM is leading a campaign to “fix our country and that begins with fixing our Constitution to get the system change we need for a more effective and purposeful pursuit of our nation’s greater good”.
It said in a statement that a “comprehensively reformed Constitution will help to curb parochial pursuits that distort the functioning of our democracy to suit partisan patronage”.
NIM has, therefore, submitted a petition to the Speaker of Parliament to begin a national discourse on a comprehensive amendment of Ghana’s 1992 Constitution.
The movement has asked all Ghanaians to collect as many signatures as possible to support the petition for reform of the 1992 Constitution, as it says after 30 years of multi-party rule under the 4th Republic, Ghana’s democracy has “stagnated into a duopoly that offers no real alternatives to the predicament of a nation unhinged from its big vision”. “The nation is mired in debt, with an economy moored to supply of raw materials, and tethered to a pattern of public expenditure that exceeds national income”, a statement from the movement said.
“Consequently, results for all the efforts of creating new jobs are woefully behind the continuous growth in numbers of unemployed youth. This is primarily because investment in the economy is mostly dependent on foreign direct investment that prefers the extractive and service industries. It mostly shuns the production sector of the economy where added value is generated and living wage jobs are created.”
“The cry of the youth to fix the country is not a cry of rebellion, it is a cry for help from the generation of our own children. We must not use the fortunate but fragile circumstances of our personal families, to judge the predicament of our youth. Their generation is faced with the greatest challenges generated by the 21st-century civilisation. The plight of Africa’s youth is to bear the greatest price in human and material terms for the transformation of national economies within a continental context”.