The Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs (MoPA), in line with its strategic objective of deepening Democratic Governance by supporting the strengthening of independent Governance institutions to perform effectively yesterday held a day’s dialog forum on the 2O2O presidential and Parliamentary Elections for some key independent governance institutions at the plush Alisa Hotel in Accra.
Present at the engagement forum were: the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), Electoral Commission (EC), National Media Commission (NMC) and the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ). Others include; the Coalition of Domestic Elections Observer, Institute For Democratic Governance, West Africa Civil Society Institute, Academia, the President of the Ghana Journalists Association, the Media, Management of the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, the Media, Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, the First Deputy of Parliament and Minority Leader of Parliament.
The theme for the forum was: “Independent Governance Institutions and the 2020 Elections: Some Reflections”.
In his welcome address, the Chief Director, MoPA, Dr. Evans Aggrey-Darkoh explained that the objectives the forum was to examine the various factors impinging on the credibility of the electoral process and to ascertain whether the electoral processes are being prosecuted according to democratic and international standards.
He further continue saying there was the need to also examine the institutional capacity of the NCCE for the conduct of voter education, interrogate the regulatory framework to guide the conduct of media practitioners, review the human rights dimensions of democratic elections in Ghana and their implications for the conduct of the 2020 elections, interrogate steps being taken by the independent governance institutions to instill confidence that the electoral procedures would be open, fair, transparent, inclusive and accountable as well as to deepen the collaboration between the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs and the Independent Governance institutions to support the consolidation of Ghana’s democracy.
Dr Aggrey-Darkoh said his outfit was extremely excited that all the key institutions were participating in the Ministry’s engagement with four Independent Governance Institutions on a very crucial democratic imperative-election.
“Ours is near-consolidated democracy with regular, competitive and inclusive elections an important democratic imperative. We have legislated to conduct Presidential and Parliamentary Elections every four years consistent with a good governance principle of political accountability.
Elections should be transparent, inclusive, and accountable, and there must be equitable opportunities to compete in order that the outcome could reflect the free expression of the will of the people.” He noted.
Dr Aggrey-Darkoh indicated that MoPA is conscious of the following facts about elections.
- Election is about power- the most central concept in any state, the tool that is used in the authoritative allocation of values in any serious society.
- Election is about accountability- leaders submitting themselves to the test of acceptability
- Elections are about the right to vote and to be voted for (franchise). It is about the right of people to choose who should govern them.
- Election is about the conferment of authority and legitimacy and
- Election is also about the test of the resilience of political institutions, including independent governance institutions, laws, procedures and system.
“We at MoPA subscribe to the electoral cycle approach which depicts elections as a continuous, integrated process made up of building blocks and institutions that interact with and influence each other. In point of fact elections are not series of isolated events.” He stated.
Addressing participants at the forum, the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Member of Parliament (MP) for Suame Constituency in the Ashanti Region, Mr. Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, called on governance institutions to be forthright with issues affecting the nation especially during election year.
According to him it is high time we come together as a people and ask the various political parties how much they spend on their political activities. Even though the 1992 Constitution mandates the state own media institutions to give equal time slots and space to all parties in elections year, are the managers of such state media institutions acting according to the dictates of the 1992 Constitution.
“The state spends so much on these state media institutions to carry out this Constitutional mandate yet political parties pay huge sums of money to these same state media institutions for spaces and air time. Who checks these things?” Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu enquired.
The Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Member of Parliament (MP) for Suame appealed to the various independent governance institutions to come up with a criterion to determined what qualifies a political party to be of a national character.
“Today there is so many mushroom political parties springing up. Most of these parties do not have offices in the two-thirds of the constituencies as stipulated by the1992 Constitution. Some people are running their political party activities from the car boats and kiosks” he disclosed.
Some heads of some key institutions at the forum also shared their achievements and challenges they faced in the line of their duties.
Meanwhile, the EC which is currently the center of attraction has expressed its readiness to conduct the 2020 general elections without any form of dispute.
According to the Acting Director of Research, Monitoring, and Evaluation at the Commission, Mr. Alexander Poku-Akutia who represented the Electoral Commissioner says adequate preparations have been made to roll out the processes required for a credible election.
Story: Franklin ASARE-DONKOH