Stakeholders at a high-level post-elections review workshop to assess the conduct of Ghana’s 2020 presidential and parliamentary elections have reiterated the need for the Electoral Commission (EC) to set up an enforcement unit to enforce laws regarding the conditions for maintaining a registered political party and accounting for political party campaign finances.
“If setting up this unit may impose undue financial burden, the EC should consider delegating some of these responsibilities, particularly the auditing of political party expenditures, to the Auditor-General or collaborate with the Auditor-General to fulfill its mandate,” they said.
To also address the challenges of curbing the proliferation of inactive political parties, the stakeholders, in a communique, further urged the EC to enforce the provisions of Article 55 (7) of the 1992 Constitution which requires registered parties to be organised in at least two-thirds of constituencies.
They noted that this recommendation was also contained in the 2017 Post-Election Workshop recommendations of CODEO.
The three-day workshop, which was organised by the Coalition of Domestic Observers (CODEO), attracted representations from the EC, the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), the National Peace Council (NPC), the National Media Commission (NMC), the Ghana Police Service, the Judiciary, some political parties — the National Democratic Congress (NDC), the New Patriotic Party (NPP), the Convention People’s Party (CPP) and the People’s National Convention (PNC), representatives from the media, civil society organisations (CSOs) and academia.
The participants further entreated the EC, political parties and other stakeholders to work together to address the increasing cost of contesting to be elected as a Member of Parliament (MP) or President.
They also suggested that the EC, together with election stakeholders, should undertake a comprehensive review of existing laws on campaign financing including the Political Parties Act (2000), PNDCL 284, and other existing electoral regulations, and work towards the development and passage of a comprehensive law on campaign financing and all political party financing.
They urged the EC, the Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) and other major stakeholders to work towards setting a time period for campaign activities to 40 or 90 days, by legislation, adding that “this is already being done in many African countries.”
The stakeholders called on the EC, political parties and other stakeholders to work towards building consensus on what constituted incumbency abuse and vote buying violations and to properly regulate such conduct.
“The EC should work on standardising its schedule of fees for the nomination of candidates. In setting fees, the Commission, as a public institution, should aim to primarily cover its administrative cost for providing the service in accordance with the exercise of discretion under Article 296 (a-b) of the 1992 Constitution,” they said.
They said the EC should also communicate nomination fees to aspirants early to allow them to mobilise the needed resources.
“In addition, the EC should consider reducing the fees for females and persons with disability to help promote their participation in elections.