Ghana prepares for this year’s general election amidst the COVID-19 control mechanisms and established protocols, there have been growing concerns from majority of Ghanaians including Eighteen (18) reputable Civil Society Groups of International standards and seven (7) leading opposition parties- the National Democratic Congress (NDC) inclusive; concerns that leave any reasonable person with no option than to reason with the sense of wisdom, though the Electoral Commission appears unperturbed with what is happening.
Whiles others are worried about the tendency of escalating the spread of COVID-19 through the rigorous processes one has to go through before getting registered as a VOTER which is characterized with overcrowding and struggle for spaces, the Electoral Commission is bent on going on with the compilation of a New voter register despite the numerous pieces of advice, resistances and calls by chiefs, religious leaders, CSOs and peace advocates.
The Electoral Commission in its attempt to formalize its decision of making the Ghana Card and Passport the only legal identification document for a new voter register, has submitted a Constitutional Instrument (C.I. 126) to parliament pending maturity and consideration.
It however remains interesting as to whether the proposals contained in the C.I that seeks to redefine who a Ghanaian citizen is as against who is qualified to vote; definitions that have clearly been stated in Articles 6 and 7 for citizenship and Article 42 on who is qualified to vote, which reads “Every citizen of Ghana of Eighteen (18) years of age or above and of SOUND MIND has the RIGHT TO BE REGISTERED as a voter for purposes of public elections and referenda”, would stand the test of time.
Clearly, the above stated constitutional article defines who qualifies for registration as a VOTER;
• A citizen of Ghana, whose definition has been rightly captured in Articles 6 and 7;
(1) Every person who, on the coming into force of this Constitution, is a citizen of Ghana by law shall continue to be a citizen of Ghana.
(2) Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, a person born in or outside Ghana after the coming into force of this Constitution, shall become a citizen of Ghana AT THE DATE OF HIS BIRTH if either of his parents or grandparents is or was a citizen of Ghana .
(3) A child’ of not more than seven years of age found in Ghana whose parents are not known shall be presumed to be a citizen of Ghana by birth.
(4) A child of not more than sixteen years of age neither of whose parents is a citizen of Ghana who is adopted by a citizen of Ghana shall, by virtue of the adoption, be a citizen of Ghana.
Article 7 lists PERSONS ENTITLED TO BE REGISTERED AS CITIZENS;
(1) A woman married to a man who is a citizen of Ghana or man married to a woman who is a citizen of Ghana may, upon making an application in the manner prescribed by Parliament, be registered a citizen of Ghana.
(2) Clause (1) of this article applies also to a person who was married to a person who, but for his or her death, would have continued to be a citizen of Ghana under clause (1) of article 6 of this Constitution.
(3) Where the marriage of a woman is annulled after she has been registered as a citizen of Ghana under clause (1) of this article, she shall, unless she renounces that citizenship, continue to be a citizen of Ghana.
(4) Any child of a marriage of a woman registered as a citizen of Ghana under clause (1) of this article to which clause (3) of this article applies, shall continue to be a citizen of Ghana unless he renounces that citizenship.
• Should have attained Eighteen (18) years or above.
• Should be of Sound mind.
Stated above are the conditions that one should meet before he/she is deemed qualified for registration as a voter, why would the Electoral Commission introduce an alien, unconstitutional and peace-threatening conditionality of a Ghana Card or a Passport if it is NOT ON A MISSION to disenfranchising qualified Ghanaians and infringing upon their rights to be registered and Vote in elections?
Many Ghanaians spent several days and nights at registration centers, with the hope of being registered for the National Identification(Ghana) cards only to be turned away with an excuse of an expired registration period; we were promised mop-ups and establishment of registration offices at all MMDAs nationwide, to grant opportunity for the many who were not registered to also be captured.
How unfair and unreasonable would the passage of the C.I 126 be when;
• Out of an estimated Seventeen (17) Million possible voters, only SEVEN-MILLION AND NINETY-ONE THOUSAND, SEVEN-HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-SIX (7,091,776) have been duly registered and issued their Ghana cards?
• Out of an estimated Ghanaian population of Thirty-One (31) Million, only about Two-Million are having passports.
• More than 60% of the population are living below the poverty-line of not being able to spend more than GHC5 per day and GHC 1,800 per year, not to talk of being able to save towards acquiring a passport that costs a minimum of GHC 50; an application that all mostly takes several months before the applicants could get their passports.
The outlined issues are known to every Ghanaian, more especially our parliamentary representatives who are aware of challenges their constituents faced during the Ghana card registration period yet they were not fully captured.
They are as well, aware of the level of poverty that many of their constituents are wallowing in as against the difficulty in obtaining a Ghanaian passport which is non-affordable to the large majority.
It is worth noting that in an indirect democracy like that of Ghana (where our members of parliament represent their constituents), *the MPs are obliged to speak, act and legislate in the interest of their constituents and nothing more*; especially when it comes to issues that have triggered a wide-range of displeasure, opposition and resistance as in the case of the Electoral Commission’s proposal which seeks to make the Ghana Card and Passport the only legal identification document* for the new voter register.
It would be surprising should the parliament of Ghana approve that Constitutional Instrument that seeks to disenfranchise almost *Ten-Million Ghanaian citizens* from exercising their rights to vote; a decision that would have made Ghana’s parliament the *most useless house of representatives* worldwide and would require a massive vote of no confidence in any MP, who supports the passage of the C.I.
The Electoral Commission is failing to reason with the majority and would not even listen to any other stakeholder in Ghana because the Executive arm of government is supporting its decision.
The legislative arm is being waited upon, as the C.I is pending maturity; would it be dealt with passionately in the interest of the large peace loving majority of Ghanaian citizens or in a parochial partisan consideration, that has the tendency of creating civil unrest and uprising?
Every Ghanaian has the right to be registered and to vote in elections and referenda, the EC should not deny them their rights!
We need peace in Ghana; government and the electoral commission should note!!
We must not escalate the uncontrolled spread of COVID-19 as we endanger the ordinary Ghanaian’s life, through an avoidable Voter registration exercise!!!
God bless our homeland Ghana and make our nation great and strong.
(Forum For Integrity and National Development (FIND))
0242846857 / 0267571107