ghanaweb.com Columnist: Boateng, Kofi A.
By Dr. Kofi A. Boateng New York January 11, 2016
The January 11, 2016 edition of Ghanaweb reported the thoughts of Mrs. Charlotte Osei, Ghana’s Electoral Commission’s Chair on the implementation of the Representation of the People Amendment Act (ROPAA). We thank her for finally saying something publicly on the subject since she has not deemed it worthy of her esteemed time to respond to an official correspondence from the Progressive Alliance Movement dated August 7, 2015. Let us consider her response.
Her main reason why ROPAA has not been implemented and perhaps will never be implemented under her chairmanship is that it is difficult to do so. It is difficult because: (a) all of Ghana’s political parties must agree on the system of implementation and the smaller (presumably any party other than NDC and NPP) may be disadvantaged; (b) there may be issues of ensuring the sanctity of the ballot papers; (c) the EC simply does not know how to go about the implementation of ROPAA in foreign lands, or has not been given the guidelines to do so; (d) the EC is not sure that Ghana’s missions and consulates can, or should be allowed to be the venues for overseas voting; and (e) the budget. No one said that nation building is easy. It simply must be done regardless, and done well. Institutions like Electoral Commissions are precisely formed to focus on visioning, developing procedures, implementing, and improving solutions to assist in this grand scheme of selecting national leadership. In no one’s job description or terms of engagement is there a provision that that there shall be no forward movement if there are difficulties. If something is difficult, ASK. The EC Chair needs not fret. Ask any of at least 14 African countries that have thought through and do implement overseas voting, cycle after cycle.
I address the central argument of Ghana’s EC boss about the insufficiency of the smaller parties. The EC Chair’s presumption is that they would not have enough manpower to observe the voting in all overseas polling stations. In 2012 Ghana had 26,000 local polling stations. Ghana’s missions and consulates abroad number less than 100. Is Mrs. Osei saying that the so called smaller parties could field observers for the 26,000 local polling venues, but cannot be expected to do so for 100 sites? Dr. Nduom’s PPP, a presumed smaller party, is on record in 2015 for being in favor of a full implementation of ROPAA. How about what she did not say but is the not-difficult truth? The two major parties in Ghana, NPP and NDC, each is afraid that a full implementation of ROPAA may go unexpectedly against it, therefore they are both irrationally against ROPAA. Giving in to this reality, and the EC not being as apolitical as they may scream, the EC has no interest in implementing a law that was passed by Ghana’s parliament in February 2006 that Ghanaians Living Abroad have the same access to the country’s constitutional article 42 that states that “Every citizen of Ghana of eighteen years of age or above and of sound mind has the right to vote and is entitled to be registered as a voter for the purposes of public elections and referenda.” Proof of lack of interest? As of January 11, 2016 the ROPAA law, ACT 699, is not even listed on the EC’s website. GLAs should stop contributing monies to the political parties that collude to deny them their right to vote despite GLAs massive remittances to build a safety net for our country. The fight continues…
Dr. Kofi A. Boateng (aka KOFI ROPAA) was the leader of two delegations of GLAs that went to Ghana in 2005 to reinforce the case for the passage of the law that extends voting to Ghanaians Living Abroad. He is the Chairman of Progressive Alliance Movement that is continuing the work of ROPAA’s implementation. Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit PAMGH.ORG