Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Mr. Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu is worried that the low activism of some Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) on the activities of Electoral Commission (EC) ahead of the 2020 general elections.
According to the Minister, he is an avid supporter of Civil Society and he sees Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) activity as a necessary part of the governance system in the country. Says CSOs are acting as a feedback loop between the government and the citizenry
Speaking at a forum organised by the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs on CSOs and Democratic Elections on Thursday, October, 15, 2020 at Alisa Hotel in Accra, the Parliamentary Affairs Minister stressed the need for CSOs to step up advocacy to eliminate fear and calm tensions in the country ahead of the general election in December.
“I have observed the activism of some CSOs on the activities of Electoral Commission, in the midst of the uncertainties occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic. Regardless of whether the events went as we desired or not, there is an election ahead of us that needs our collective effort for its credibility.
Sometimes I worry about the possibility of a shrinking civic space. In election 2020 and beyond, the impact of CSOs in political advocacy in my opinion is reducing. This requires that you reinvent yourselves in order to stay relevant. I have learnt in my many years in governance, that the use of “soft power” and behind the scenes negotiations works better than open confrontation.” He noted.
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu who also doubles as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Suame Constituency in the Ashanti region, Majority Leader and leader of government business urged CSOs to seek the well-being of the elected representatives.
“All through our political history, Parliament is the first casualty anytime there has been an overthrow of the constitution. The other arms of Government; the Executive and Judiciary operate, albeit sub optimally. The fourth Republic has seen a sustained parliament. However, parliament and parliamentarians are vilified at the least opportunity.
The Legislature needs CSO activism, for after all MPs are the product of our general elections that we spend so much of our scarce resources on. It behooves on us to advocate for MP support systems and to help garner respect for the institution of parliament.” He noted.
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu was of the view with about 43 days to election 2020; CSOs can help with voter education in addition to supporting to ensure vigilance at the polls. Saying CSOs advocacy must also go to eliminate violence and diminish the fear and panic.
“By God’s grace we have been through six successive, successful and peaceful elections and the 2020 general will not be different” He added.
Meanwhile, the Ranking Member on the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, Mr. Inusah Fuseini, at the same forum, also asked civil society groups to advocate for a fair process in addition to peace.
According to him, the fact that President Akufo-Addo replaced the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission when he came into offices raises red flags.
“It opens up the perception that the people who have been put in office will dance to the tune of the master who put them in office.”
The MP thus urged CSOs to “work to meet the reasonable and legitimate expectations of this country to deliver free credible and transparent elections.”
The themed for the forum was “Civil Society Organizations and Democratic Elections: the 2020 Elections in Focus”
Story: Franklin ASARE-DONKOH
Writer’s email: firstname.lastname@example.org