THE LITMUS TEST FOR GHANA’S 2016 ELECTION ARE WE ADDING UP OR FALLING APART
It is another election year, the 7th in the history of Ghanaian election calendar. As mandated by the 1992 constitution of Ghana we elect 275 parliamentary candidates and a president. One would have thought that after 6 successful elections, the 7th would have been a long hanging fruits for the country but the process leading to the election has been characterized by serious red heavy event and circumstances that could constitute ethnicity for electoral violence. These issues constitute a litmus test for the stakeholders.
Bros ordinarily litmus test is used in chemistry to find out the chemical acidity or alkalinity using litmus paper. It uses a single indicator to count a decision in the world of employment. In this presentation, I would look at the challenges facing the 2016 election processes. When we are able to deal with it effectively, we would be adding up to the successes chopped since 6 years of elections. On the other hand, if we allow the challenges to degenerate and become a trigger of electoral violence we would be falling apart or failing the socio political litmus test. The question I ask is, what are the issues constituting the litmus test.
Firstly, the appointment of the newly electoral commissioner that became a bone of contention to the NPP and NDC the major political parties.
Secondly, the recent voters’ registration exercise meant to capture first time voters was depleted with accusation and counter accusation, again spearheaded by the NPP and NDC, the bone of contention surrounded serious irregularities including alleged registration of foreigners and deliberate attempt by parties preventing the other party supporters from registering at their so called world banks.
Thirdly, the legality of various registrants who used the NHIS card to indicate their Ghanaian identity. This case was dragged to the Supreme Court by two citizens of the land and the EC was ordered to provide the list of such registrants with immediate effect and remove their names from the register which they did and 56,500 names were affected. These people were given the opportunity to re-register. Notably, the list has been contested and the EC has been accused by a section of the political public and litigants who sort purposefully of having presented inaccurate list.
It is also important to note that the 12 presidential candidates who were rejected by the EC with the reasons as perjury, impersonation and decent of public office. If these candidates are to challenge and petition the court, we are likely to experience a long adversarial battle while the clock takes and closes in to Dec 7th.
The other issue that is raise from the litmus test is the argument post by the two major parties that their candidate have failed to win the election on two occasions by convention they have created in reference to the late Prof. Atta Mills. He won the third time therefore it is the turn of NPP candidate to have a smile on the face. By the same convention parties should be in power for eight years so the NDC is to see their exit since they have spent the 8 years. The NDC strongly counter the argument on the question of 3rd attempt fortune rather says the NPP votes keeps on decreasing at each election. They also continue that their candidate has completed his first term and to refer to that convention he have another term to go. In my view these are political pedestrians. Elections are won base on the appeal of manifestoes, programs and maturity of candidate.
Another challenge faced by the country is the use of macho men by the political parties whom they say are to protect them and the ballot box but end up snatching the ballot box. The NDC have the Avoca boys and NPP invisible forces, parallel military groups trained for election and to cause confusion. Political party leaders are calling for a high vigilance on the Election Day, these men are used in the name of preventing people from rigging the ballot box and this is likely to promote conflict.
What about the media in Ghana who also adding up to the litmus test. They constitute the 4th arm of government serving as the mouth piece of the people exposing excesses among the three major arms of government, the executive, the legislature and the judiciary. Unfortunately we witness a media terrain that is sleeping gradually in the arms of polarization, NPP and NDC. The airwaves are crowded with political discussion which the various party communicators engage in verbal herm rage, trade in more insult to become popular and this is complemented by serial callers with distasteful contributions. Bros, if we gun to the power of the media to send us to war, let see the green hill of Africa conflict of what happened in Rwanda. There was a government control media house whose pre-occupation was to promote the Hutu cause against the Tutsi, the two major ethnic groups in the country. In a Magazine called Kangura edited by a man called Hassan Ngeze and published by the wife of a Prime Minister wrote the 10 commandment of the Hutu and is as follows.
First, all Tutsi are enemies of Hutu and any Hutu who marries or works with a Tutsi is a traitor, an enemy and must be treated as Tutsi.
Second, every Hutu should know that a Tutsi woman whatever she is with or for the interest of a Tutsi ethnic group, as a result, we shall consider as a traitor Hutus who marries a Tutsi woman, defends a Tutsi woman, and employs a Tutsi woman as a secretary or concubine.
Third, every Hutu should know that our Hutu daughters are more suitable and conscious in their role as women, as a mother of a family, are they not beautiful, good secretary and more honest.
Forth, all Hutus must know that Tutsi are dishonest in business. Their only goal is ethnic superiority. Any Hutu is a traitor who: forms a business alliance with a Tutsi: grants favour to Tutsi in business
Fifth, all strategic positions, political administrative, economic, military and security should be entrusted only to Hutu
Six, the educational sector must be Hutu majority
Seven, Rwandan Armed Forces should be exclusively Hutu and no member should marry a Tutsi
Eight, Hutus should stop having mercy on the Tutsi
Nine, Hutu wherever they are must have unity and solidarity and be concerned with the fate of their Hutu brothers
The last, any Hutu who persecute his bro Hutu for having read, taught and spread this ideology is a traitor.
And the government was happy with this until the mass carter started and resulted in a genocide that claimed about 800,000 lives in Rwanda. Ghanaians have wrong notion that we are a peaceful people and therefore we would never go to war. I argue that this is false, that many ethnic conflicts which occurred in the country were master minded by Ghanaians. Whoever thought that the Hutu and the Tutsi would have gone to war when in the past they could inherit each other. Whoever thought that Tony Kenyatta of Kenya, Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Ofoibuahene of Ivory Coast would have gone to war over election. These countries were counted as peaceful for a long period of time but 2007 election in Kenya pull violence which kills 1,500 lives and displaced 3,000 while Zimbabwe has been merged by massive force and brutal subvention. Election dispute has fuel violence conflicts in Sierra Leone, Central Africa Republic and Cote d’voire, in Mauritania the political transmission processes has been faulted by military coup. Whenever the people remain together, conflict around election has led to chronic tension. This has been demonstrated by Uganda, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Nigeria. And Ghana has their share since we hear from the radio that the last election was won by the Supreme Court. Announcement of the official result and adjudication of the election related dispute or the delay in the adjudication of the dispute has triggered conflict. Consequently, the late Ken. Mohammed Gadafi remarks in 2009 that multi-party democracy only lead to bloodshed. A well-functioning state is built not just on narrow share interest but on share identity. One important way to achieve this shared identity is free, fair and peaceful election. There are five intervals which we should note in an election chronology in which election violence can occur.
- Identity conflict which occurs during registration process where conflict forces struggle to established and reestablished the officially recognize identities with the political parties they belong to. The registration exercise in 2008, 2012 and the recently witnessed identity conflict where political parties accused each other of passing their supporters to increase their membership in a constituency where they have lost in the previous election to improve their fortune
- Campaign conflict which was identified by a man called John Fisher, where political rivals seek to disturb their opponent campaigns by intimidating voters and candidate and uses threats to influence participation.
- Balloting conflict which occurs on Election Day, where candidate who vote look out for personalities and physical appearance. This is a problem, because people are not looking at the issues base concerns and manifesto. This is why we are not practicing democracy but innocracy. People do not look at the wrong to be able to tell rather follow it. This is carry into government and affects development.
- Result conflict occurs over election result. This is where the authenticity from the polluting station on grounds that counting of the vote was done without their present as polling agent at the station and this can bring about dispute over result and inability of
- Representation conflict when elections are organized in a zero sum. Winner takes all and loser left out. In Ghana this expectation of winner takes all is gradually becoming real as opposing parties cannot get their members appointed to serve in any capacity that requires government appointee to fill eg appointment of chief executive, ministers of state etc. this is one of the causes of corruption thought is not constitutional provision.
How can the country add up to the electoral success or pass the litmus test. I have some suggestion to make:
- The National Commission for Civic Education should be resourced and furnished with the necessary materials to embark on their mandate. They are constitutional mandate to educate on civic rights of the citizens and also work hand in hand with the electoral commission of Ghana.
- The electoral commission is mandated to oversee the success of election in the country to be free, fair and transparent. Their mandates go beyond the ballot box, they are also responsible for demarcation of electoral boundaries, voter education and assist in resolution of voter conflict between and within the political parties. They are to help in internal democratic procedures among the parties by supervising and satisfying the outcome of the party’s election.
- “The sovereignty of Ghana resides in the people of Ghana in whose name and for whose welfare the powers of government are to be exercised in the manner and within the limits laid down in this constitution”. Political tolerance is the virtue and every individual must promote that culture. It is a threat to the success of democracy.
- One needs to point to the various conflicts and the resultant pain and suffering that they have brought and continue to bring to families and people of some countries in Africa and other parts of the world.
To conclude, I edge all to be circumspect and act maturely. Be tolerant to each other’s view since we are in a democratic rule. If you disagree on another’s view does not mean that the person is wrong. We should agree to disagree to make better and informed decision for democratic development and growth. Long live Marshallan, long live Ghana and long live Africa.
By Bro. Philip Sarpong
Council 108, Pokuase.