Former President John Mahama has accused the Electoral Commission of making itself a “willing tool” for the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) to execute a “diabolical” agenda to disenfranchise Ghanaians who the party suspects will vote against it in the 7 December 2020 polls.
Expressing the National Democratic Congress’ unhappiness at the Supreme Court’s decision to exclude the existing voter card from the Electoral Commission’s upcoming voter registration exercise, the flag bearer of the party, told journalist on Thursday night that: “We are deeply disappointed and strongly disagree with the court over this outcome, which has confounded many legal experts and thrown the country into a state of confusion”.
“Our legal team is examining this decision even as we await the full judgement”, Mr Mahama noted, adding: “It is worrying that the court deferred the reasons for its decisions to the 15th of July, by which time the EC would have been two weeks into the registration exercise”.
“My brothers and sisters, throughout its history, the NDC has stood strongly for an inclusive democracy. That is because the party is built on the principle that no one should be left out in the governance process of our beloved country”, he said.
Mr Mahama continued: “This principle may be seen through the various programmes and projects upon which our democracy is built: the composition of the Consultative Assembly, which prepared the 1992 Constitution; the consultations for the review of the Constitution in 2010 (which stands out as the most comprehensive consultative programme in our history and the history of the sub-region); just to mention a few”.
The NPP tradition, on the other hand, Mr Mahama noted, has, “since the founding of our nation always stood for an exclusive governance structure. A structure, which seeks to leave out the ordinary men and women of our country. A structure, which rather favours only a select few who consider themselves the owners of the nation”.
To ensure this, he said the NPP has, since its assumption of power in 2017, “consistently put in place measures, which seek to systematically disenfranchise eligible citizens. Such measures include restricting the identification mechanism for voter registration to documents, which are not accessible to millions of eligible voters”.
“We have been very clear in our minds that the decision to compile a new voters register was in pursuit of this long-held agenda, hence our efforts to stop the wholesale attempt to exclude vast sections of our population from the process to determine who leads them”.
“This represents the handiwork of a desperate incumbent that on account of its very poor performance in government sees its political survival only through the prism of manipulation of the electoral process to exclude a section of Ghanaians who they suspect may not renew their mandate at the polls”, Mr Mahama accused.
In his view, “A caring, compassionate and responsible government would not push us to this brink at a time of a major pandemic like COVID-19 that is causing so much anguish among the citizenry”, adding: “It is deeply regrettable that the Electoral Commission, which should be independent, has made itself a willing tool in the execution of this most diabolic agenda”.
He said the exclusion of the old voter ID card, “which has been used to conduct several elections under the current leadership of the Electoral Commission and from which the current President derives his mandate, is aimed at deliberately disenfranchising some Ghanaians who have falsely been branded foreigners without any basis”.
According to him, the “restriction of primary identification to passports, Ghana cards and the resort to guaranteeing for others is a ruse to create frustration in the hope that it will discourage millions from registering and in the process give advantage ab initio to a bungling incumbent”.
The Ghana card, which has been made one of two identification documents, Mr Mahama observed, “has not been rolled out in full”. “As we speak, these cards are still being issued with no mechanism for verification. The National Identification Authority itself has admitted to duplication of thousands of these cards”, he complained.
“Therefore, the NDC’s decision to go to the Supreme Court, was informed by the party’s time-honoured belief and commitment to an inclusive democracy as opposed to the NPP’s exclusiveness”.
“However, it was obvious from the outset of this struggle that inclusive democracy was not going to have a hearing, even against the resounding call by the National House of Chiefs, religious leaders, CSOs and the various trade and professional groups”.
The former President urged Ghanaians to register nonetheless to get the opportunity to voice out their anger at the government in the December polls.
“My brothers and sisters, the right to vote must, however. not be curtailed on account of this minor setback for inclusion. We cannot throw our hands up in despair because the fight to insist on inclusion has been temporarily derailed by this ruling. We can still make our voices heard even if we must endure some inconvenience and frustration”.
“To achieve the objective of taking part in the decision over who governs us, we must be willing to make the necessary sacrifices in the present circumstances. I, therefore, urge all Ghanaians of voting age to channel the disappointment at the effort to exclude them from the electoral process into an opportunity to have their voices heard and turn up to register in their teeming numbers, when the process begins next week Tuesday”.
He said the “NPP and the EC are very much aware that the exclusion of the existing voter ID will significantly slow down the process of registration and create the real risk of people massing up outside the voting centers. But this is what happens when politics is put before the people.”
“While at it, let us keep safe by adhering strictly to all COVID-19 preventive protocols, such as social distancing, the wearing of face masks among others, particularly because of the increasing trend in the number of infections and deaths recorded.”