No one likes defeat in this game of political elections; yet there should be a winner. It’s a highly emotional game; you express such and you’re labelled a bad loser; you refuse to concede even in the face of visible thievery and you are accused of demonstrating bad faith.
Trust the victor to exhibit the worse form of grumbling, should it swap positions with the loser of the previous election to become the loser in the next election. This sums up Ghana’s electoral trajectory since 1992.
Going through such rigmarole of elections, the easy assumption then becomes no party has ever won genuine election in the country since the inception of the 4th Republic. This is in contrast with the 3rd Republican elections in 1979 which outcome remains a bench-mark of electoral purity.
However, in the case of the 4th Republic, even where political parties make concessions and congratulate the victors, the contention has been that they did so for the sake of peace or that they were coerced into doing so by other intermediaries.
Groups like the Christian Council of Ghana, the Ghana Pentecostal Churches and other identifiable groups have been at the forefront of ensuring peace before, during and after elections.
Indeed, there had been occasions that the leadership of these groups had spoken to vanquished sides and their leadership to consider conceding in the interest and cohesiveness of the country. One classical example was the 2016 elections, where some top Pastors in the country persuaded then President Mahama to concede defeat.
In this article, I will take you through carefully how parties, especially the leading two—the NPP and the NDC have been at the fore-front of this quarterly quarreling on election rigging, especially, the presidential elections, since 1992.
1992 & 1996
NPP officials and their supporters believe the worst elections ever held in the 4th Republic was the 1992 elections. It was the first election under the 4th Republican constitution. It was a period that a sitting military ruler, Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings was trading his military garb for a civilian clothing.
The stakes were simply high. The politicians who were suppressed by Rawling’s Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) junta and therefore fled to other countries were given a free passage back to the homeland, but not without being kept under perpetual surveillance.
It was a period that many political jargons were introduced into our body-politic. However, any of such new political vocabularies had their own unique way of playing on the intelligence or the minds of especially, party supporters and many of the undecided voters.
So we read and heard repeatedly words like cross-carpeting, meaning some opposition party supporters were set to join the ruling party, in this case the P(NDC) which had then metamorphosed into the political party–National Democratic Congress (NDC).
There were others like “bussing of supporters” to campaign rallies. These were all done in line with the heightening propaganda of pleasing the eye that a particular party—many times, the ruling party had a large following. Even the highly contentious political thuggery has its roots in the first elections of the 4th Republic.
The ’92 Election itself
The 1992 election was overwhelmingly won by the NDC and their candidate Jerry John Rawlings. The former military ruler had more than 58 percent of the valid votes cast with Prof. Albert Adu Boahene, his closest rival from the New Patriotic Party (NPP), scoring close to 38 percent.
The 1992 presidential election was held before the parliamentary. After detecting massive fraud in the presidential balloting, the NPP decided to pull out of the parliamentary election. The other minority parties followed suit.
The NDC and its allies under the Progressive Alliance were the only parties that participated in the parliamentary election. Parliament thus became a mockery of a law making institution. The MPs from the parties that formed the Progressive Alliance with the NDC posed ridiculously, as opposition in Parliament.
They were only seven as compared to the NDC’s 143 and led by one Dr. Owusu Agyekum, a medical practitioner. At a press conference, the NPP showed Ghanaians how thump-printed ballots of Prof Adu-Boahene had been dumped at various dump sites throughout the country and how some of such ballots were destroyed.
The NPP also gave account of how some state-sponsored thugs snatched ballot boxes especially, in rural constituencies.
The Stolen Verdict & 1996 elections
The NPP took the findings in their strides; calmed down their supporters and decided to collate all of the infractions and malpractices into a book they titled: The Stolen Verdict. Contents in the book offered graphic presentation of how in the estimation of the NPP, the 1992 election was stolen by the NDC and its allies in the Progressive Alliance.
At a time that many African countries had been thrown into turmoil through electoral malpractices, then NPP chairman, B.J. da Rocha thought their best approach was to make a date with history, so that posterity will judge the electoral events of 1992 rather than to resort to violence to destroy the very country that they competed for, to govern.
The 1996 election was still a perilous minefield between Rawlings’ NDC, which over-exploited its incumbency advantage and the rest. The Nkrumaists put up some form of a united front under the umbrella name—People’s Convention Party (PCP).
The NPP still remained united force under the leadership of John Agyekum Kufuor, a junior minister in the 2nd Republic; and an MP in the 3rd Republic. The PCP and the NPP went into an alliance under the name-The Great Alliance.
As usual, the NDC which remained the ruling party, competed under its umbrella group, the Progressive Alliance. Although the election was won by the NDC, the NPP and its allies cited overwhelming infractions in the voting process, especially in their strongholds, thus making it almost impossible for many of their supporters to cast their ballots.
Again The Great Alliance accused the NDC of massive voter rigging in the Volta Region, where they alluded to the fact that the NDC managed to get some Togolese to cross over through boarder villages to vote for the ruling party.
The NPP did not boycott Parliament like they did previously, yet their numbers in the chamber were not enough to rely on to challenge much the NDC.
Change 2000 & NDC’s allegations of rigging in 2004
There was a massive change in the 2000 elections. Rawlings had finished with his two-year term office, and so was off the scene. John Agyekum Kufuor managed to break NDC’s hold on elections in the 4th Republic with a rare win of the 2000 elections.
Vice President, John Mills was the NDC candidate who lost to John Kufuor in the election. Even at that, the NPP still maintained that the election was rigged by the NDC. According to their representative at the EC’s strong room at the time, Kwabena Agyei Agyepong, per his collations from the polling centres, the NPP won the elections after the first round count.
He therefore suggested to the leadership of the NPP that there was no need for a run-off as the EC’s announcement had suggested. Nonetheless, the man at the centre of the change, J.A. Kufuor although empathized with his party supporters, he agreed that the NPP participate in the run-off.
The second round voting became a straight contest between John Kufuor of the NPP and John Mills of the NDC. John Kufuor eventually emerged the winner in the run-off. The NDC then decided to make life uncomfortable for Kufuor in his first tenure of office.
It was the time that the NDC claimed the former President had twin babies out of wedlock. Their names were given as John & Philip. It however proved to be an elusive chase. The President was again accused of building a multi-million-hotel by his private residence.
The name of the hotel was given as African Regent Hotel. As part of the anti-Kufuor genre, the NDC quickly corrupted that name to wit: Hotel de Kufuor, Hotel Waawa etc. They topped it all, claiming that the NPP rigged the 2004 presidential election.
The NDC was even on the verge of taking legal action against the NPP, but for the timely intervention of their presidential candidate, Prof. Atta Mills, who calmed the nerves of many of their agitating members and supporters.
He would rather ask them to pick up lessons from the 2004 elections and prepare fervently for the next election, which was in 2008.
Perhaps, it’s only the 2008 election that many NPP supporters thought their defeat was self-inflicted. And that was because there was a break-down in communication between then President Kufuor and then candidate Akufo Addo, on how to strategize with the post 2008 election run-off.
Ironically, it was NPP’s hurried posture to charge the NDC of cheating in the 2008 elections, that led to the communication break between President Kufuor and candidate Nana Akufo Addo.
So as President Kufuor was all prepared to go bail out the NPP in the outstanding Tain constituency, Akufo Addo and his folks were considering taking legal action against voting at Tain.
The NDC took advantage of the lack of communication between the two protagonists to sail through smoothly in the run-off.
2012 & 2016
The biggest conspiracy theory of thievery in Ghanaian elections occurred in 2012. It was one election which outcome became clearer after some 13 months of legal angling at the court. The NPP had accused the NDC of massive rigging and therefore decided to test their position on the election through the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court however dismissed the NPP petition, claiming the party’s position on the elections had no basis in law. Then came 2016, and the script was repeated with the actors switching to opposite directions.
This time, the NDC claimed the election was flawed by massive NPP rigging, arguing that there was no way the NPP could beat the NDC with a whopping one million votes. It took the intervention of some renowned pastors for then President, John Mahama to concede.
The 2020 election
Electoral accusations between the two are now becoming like a soap opera. The NDC claim there was massive rigging in the 2020 elections, both parliamentary and presidential. Their position seems to be strengthened with the inconsistent manner the EC’s tabulations on the electoral figures kept changing at least, on five occasions before a final figure was achieved.
According to NDC’s John Mahama, he will only concede defeat after forensic auditing of all collated ballots. That is how every Ghanaian election has been doubted by especially, these two parties. So what next, EC and all actors?
By: Richmond Keelson