On Monday 7th December 2020, Ghana successfully went to the polls, and we thank the Lord Almighty for his gracious mercies and unfailing love. I wish to salute fellow countrymen and women who participated in the process. I also sincerely wish to thank the media for their efforts in bringing us updates across the 275 constituencies.
Indeed, their participation in the process is a strong indication that democracy is the currency of the day, and therefore must jealously be guarded to ensure a smooth path for economic growth and development.
The rationale for this article is to briefly and critically look at lessons from the just-ended elections and speedily put mechanisms in place to ensure that we further consolidate our electoral system and processes. Admittedly, the organisation of this year’s elections has been quite smooth and largely successful.
The usual long queues at polling stations were literally non-existent, the verification machines and other electoral materials were actually intact – and, in fact, the Electoral Commission must be commended for the innovations employed at various polling centres.
Interestingly, when I was just able to pick my trumpet and start blowing the success of this year’s elections, news started pouring in about violence in some parts of the country and the eventual death of some citizens. I hereby express my deepest condolences to their families.
What is the value of democracy?
Multi-party elections, which actually determine the government of the country, are the acceptable shared conception and practice we have adopted under the fourth republic. In fact, the Constitution provides that Parliament shall have no power to enact a law establishing a one-party state (article 3(1) of the constitution). It is worth noting that democracy is indeed the vehicle by which people have the power to choose their government, and an opportunity to participate in some of the processes which affect them economically, socially and politically.
In fact, elections are gradually being accepted as among the key pillars affecting our democracy. It is refreshing to state that democracy is not just about elections, yet elections are the main propelling political force that determines the direction of our democracy; and hence it must be conducted in a manner that ensures we do not distort our democratic credentials. The value of any democracy includes:
- Political value – That is freedom of speech, freedom of political life, peace etc.
- Economic value – This includes development in freedom, economic prosperity.
- Legal value – That is, distributive Justice, rule of law, etc.
Lessons for Ghana’s emerging democracy
Elections are indeed a major and critical political issue in our democratic dispensation. However, they should not be allowed to destroy our stable democracy. Electoral disagreements must be resolved in the courts; and the courts must at all times uphold their professional integrity in resolving such electoral disputes as will be put before them for determination. Political actors as well as political parties must equally respect decisions of the court; and by this our democracy will indeed be a shining example to other countries on the continent and beyond. It is refreshing to state that upholding our democratic credentials will involve:
- Building trust in the Electoral Commission: Article 45 (c) of the 1992 Constitution empowers the Electoral Commission to conduct and supervise all public elections and referenda. In fact, the Commission is mandated to educate citizens on the electoral process and its purpose (article 45(d)).
The Commission, in discharging such constitutional mandate, must do so in a manner that will ensure a high degree of professionalism, transparency and fairness – thereby earning the trust and confidence of critical political stakeholders as well as the good citizens of this country. Political parties and political actors must also desist from deliberate and unnecessary criticism of the Electoral Commission’s activities.
They must present their dissatisfaction to the Commission in a ‘politically friendly manner’, and the Commission must equally address their issues within the ambit of the law. This in my considered opinion will breed truth, and eventually suspicion will be diminished in our electoral process.
- Empowering The National Commission for Civic Education: The NCCE is one of the most important democratic institutions in this country. Its mandate is to educate the citizens of Ghana about their civic rights and responsibilities. In fact, article 233 of the 1992 Constitution spells out the Commission’s functions.
Specifically, article 233 (d) of the 1992 Constitution provides that the Commission shall formulate, implement and oversee programmes intended to inculcate in the citizens of Ghana awareness of their civic responsibilities, and an appreciation of their rights and obligations as free people.
It is my humble submission that the Commission must be well-resourced financially, and supplied with the appropriate logistics that will enable them to educate the citizens about their rights to preserve and defend our democracy. I am of the view that such an education will equip citizens so as not to let themselves be used by some greedy politicians to create confusion in the country.
- Professional Training for Security Personnel: Security personnel that will be deployed on election days to assist the Electoral Commission to deliver free and fair elections must be given specialised and professional training in crowd control etc. This will prevent the unfortunate and needless deaths recorded during this year’s elections.
In conclusion, I wish to congratulate the President-elect, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, for emerging victorious in a keenly contested election. Your Excellency, your victory is a loud and crystal clear message from the citizens that you must put up a team capable of recovering the economy from impacts of COVID-19, creating economic growth and development and prosperity for all.
I equally wish to call on John Dramani Mahama, one of our finest statesmen, to resort to the Supreme Court for redress of any electoral dissatisfaction and concerns. That is the surest way to uphold our democracy for a future NDC government. We must be guided by our political past, and therefore let’s drive our political agenda on paths that will not distort our democratic credentials. God bless our homeland Ghana, and make us great, prosperous and strong.
>>>the writer is a Development Economist. Tel: 0244 476376 email: [email protected]