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NDC holds stakeholder engagements on its electoral reform proposals 

NDC holds stakeholder engagements on its electoral reform proposals 

The opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) is holding stakeholder engagements with identifiable groups and institutions on its proposals for electoral reforms in Ghana.

So far, the party has met with ten different groups.

They are Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Organized Labour other than the TUC, the Trades Union Congress (TUC), the Diplomatic Community (US Embassy/UK High Commission/Canadian High Commission), the Diplomatic Community (EU Delegation and Member States) and the Christian Leaders.

The rest are NDC Professional Forum, National Peace Council, Muslim Leaders and NDC Communicators.

The move according to the party is to court their support and also solicit their input.

This was disclosed to the media by Nana Ato Dadzie, the Chairman of the National Democratic Congress’ Electoral Reform Committee, on Tuesday, August 24, 2021.

“The draft report of the Committee was submitted to the Functional Executive Committee (FEC), the National Executive Committee (NEC) and the Council of Elders of the NDC, who all endorsed the report and directed the Committee to conduct stakeholder consultations with identifiable organizations and bodies.”

“In the stakeholder consultations that we have been engaging in, there have been more than 100 issues raised in relation to our Technical committee’s reform proposals, as well as some novel proposals for our consideration,” he said.

Mr. Dadzie said, based on the issues raised, the NDC’s technical committee hopes to issue supplementary electoral reform proposals “to be submitted to the EC and other relevant agencies”.

The NDC has already made 34 recommendations it hopes will be adopted to reform the country’s electoral processes.

Read Nana Ato Dadzie’ full speech below:

NDC PRESS CONFERENCE ON THE PARTY’S PROPOSALS FOR ELECTORAL REFORMS

TUESDAY 24TH AUGUST 2021

Ladies and gentlemen of the media;

As part of the Technical committee’s work, we reviewed:

  • Existing reports of the EC’s Electoral Reforms Committees in particular the 2015 Reforms Committee;
  • International and domestic literature on electoral reforms;
  • International best practices on electoral systems;
  • Conducted interviews with some former top management staff of the EC;
  • Examined the position papers of the party’s own Elections Directorate.

The Committee also had access to some pertinent documentation from the EC.

The draft report of the Committee was submitted to the Functional Executive Committee (FEC), the National Executive Committee (NEC) and the Council of Elders of the NDC who all endorsed the report and directed the Committee to conduct stakeholder consultations with identifiable organizations and bodies.

So far, we have met with the following:

  • Civil Society Organizations (CSOs)
  • Organized Labour other than the TUC
  • Trades Union Congress (TUC)
  • The Diplomatic Community (US Embassy/UK High Commission/Canadian High Commission)
  • The Diplomatic Community (EU Delegation and Member States)
  • Christian Leaders
  • NDC Professional Forum
  • National Peace Council
  • Muslim Leaders
  • NDC Communicators.

Engagements with the National House of Chiefs and the NDC Parliamentary Caucus are still outstanding.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Media,

The Reform Proposals

There are 34 recommendations for reform in all, segregated into Parts A and B.

The reform proposals in Part A require action by the Executive (Government), Legislature (Parliament) and bodies other than the EC.

Part B contains reform proposals requiring action by the EC.

For each reform recommendation, we have provided a background briefing as well as the justification for the recommendation.

 Ladies and Gentlemen of the Media,

Part A Reform Recommendations

Part A consists of 10 reform recommendations of which we consider 3 to be NDC’s flagship recommendations.

In the first, we propose that the members of the EC should be appointed by the President in consultation with the Council of State and with the prior approval of Parliament, provided that the Chairperson shall be approved by two-thirds of all the Members of Parliament.

We draw attention to a similar independent institution of the Constitution, the Supreme Court, whose members are similarly appointed on the advice of the Judicial Council or in consultation with the Council of State as appropriate but in all cases with the prior approval of Parliament.

We noted that the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) of which Mrs. Jean Mensa, the current Chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC) was a member, made exactly the same recommendation in its report dated 20th December 2011 and the Government White Paper accepted the recommendation.

However, it is reported in the ‘Ghanaian Times’ of Friday August 20, 2021, at page 17, that His Excellency (HE) President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, at a meeting with the Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition, stated that he had no interest in implementing the recommendations of the CRC because the process of reviewing the Constitution was flawed.

The President is further reported to have said that it is not the business of a sitting President to initiate a review of the 1992 Constitution and expressed no interest in the recommendations of the Commission.

The Technical Committee is afraid the President’s position cannot be correct on both counts.

This matter has been subsequent by the Supreme Court in the case of Asare (No. 2) v. Attorney-General [2015-2016] 2 SCGLR 899 in which the Court, by a majority of 5-2, decided that there was nothing wrong with the procedure adopted by His Excellency the President John Evans Atta Mills to have the Constitution amended.

In the words of Chief Justice Georgina Wood: “we will not advocate a narrow and rigid construction of those relevant laws, to constitutionally exclude the Executive President, who is invested with constitutional authority to maintain and execute the Constitution of Ghana, from engaging in any pre-legislative activity, such as the work he had commissioned the CRC (Constitutional Review Commission) and the CRIC (Constitutional Review Implementation Committee) to carry out, which had resulted in the submission of proposals to the legislative branch”.

Recently the then Deputy and now Honorable Attorney General, Mr. Godfred Dame at a seminar organized by the Election Committee of Practice and Learning (supported by Star Ghana Foundation) at the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences on the 30th November 2019 is reported to have affirmed the Government’s readiness and preparedness in implementing the recommendations of the CRC and had indeed started implementing some of the proposals.

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.

In our second flagship recommendation, we proposed to NDC party that the Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) should be backed by legislation and that its composition and functions should be clearly spelt out in the legislation.

We draw attention to a similar independent body in the Constitution, the Judiciary, whose Judicial Council also has its composition and functions spelt out both in the Constitution and in legislation.

In NDC’s third flagship recommendation, we propose that ultimately, the EC should be split into two separate and distinct bodies:

  1. Office of the Regulator of Political Parties (ORPP) responsible for the registration and regulation of political parties;
  2. An Electoral Commission (EC) responsible for the conduct of Presidential, Parliamentary, District Assembly and Unit Committee and other public elections and referenda.

 Ladies and Gentlemen of the Media,

Part B Reform Recommendations

Part B contains 24 reform proposals but we consider 9 of them to be NDC’s flagship recommendations. They are the following:

  • 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 7am to 5pm 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 station by polling station 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.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Media,

Stakeholder Engagement Proposals

In the stakeholder consultations that we have been engaging in, there have been more than 100 issues raised in relation to our Technical committee’s reform proposals as well as some novel proposals for our consideration.

The technical committee hope to use some of these as the basis for supplementary reform proposals to be submitted to the EC and other relevant agencies.

Among them are the following:

  • The silence of the reform proposals on the issue of the increasing “monetization” 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.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Media,

Conclusion

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 (NB: all previous and current EC’s have been subject to intense attack from the Political Parties over the period).

We hope that the Government will initiate the necessary steps to operationalize especially the 3 flagship reform recommendations in Part A of our Proposals as well as the recommendations of the Constitutional Reform Commission.

We also hope that you, the media, will disseminate these reform proposals as widely as possible to enable as many of our country men and women to participate in the national conversation.

Nana Ato Dadzie cv

Chairman /Technical Committee

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