The Majority Leader, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, has urged the Electoral Commission (EC) to take into consideration the prevailing COVID-19 environment and peg its threshold for the number of voters at each polling station at 600 instead of 850.
That, he said, would mean increasing the proposed 33,000 polling stations to about 37,000 to reduce the number of voters at each polling station during voting in the midst of the pandemic.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, who is also the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, was speaking at a day’s engagement with independent governance institutions of state at an event organised by the ministry in Accra.
The interaction attracted the leadership of the Electoral Commission (EC), the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), the National Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), the National Media Commission (NMC), and some civil society organisations.
The programme was on “Independent Governance Institutions and the 2020 Elections in Ghana: Some Reflections” and was aimed at strengthening such governance institutions involved in elections to enhance the integrity of the electoral process and improve accountability, transparency and participatory democracy in Ghana.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu also expressed concern about the huge indebtedness of political parties to state media institutions.
“It is most revealing, go and see how much in spite of the massive resort to GTV, GBC Radio and other state institutions; Daily Graphic, Ghanaian Times, Spectator and The Mirror, how much political parties paid is most intriguing. Who are we deceiving as a country? I believe we should be forthright with ourselves,” he stated.
Touching on the powers of the Electoral Commission (EC) to scrutinise political parties pertaining to their sources of funds and campaign financing, Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said that function had been continuously relegated to the background.
Article 55 (14) of the Constitution, which clothes the EC with the power to regulate the finances of political parties, states that: “Political parties shall be required by law-(a) to declare to the public their revenues and assets and the sources of those revenues and assets; and (b) to publish to the public annually their audited accounts”
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said there was an increasing groundswell of opinion for reforms in the excessive monetisation of elections in the country, especially at the level of intra-party polls where the seeds of corruption were brazenly sown.
He expressed fears that such actions could derail the country’s journey to the “kingdom of democracy” and called on all Ghanaians to ensure that the EC was equipped to handle all of its constitutional duties.
The Chairman of the NMC, Mr Yaw Boadu Ayeboafoh, said the commission had established a number of media advisory committees in the regions with prominent characters as members so that when issues cropped up, they would be able to douse the fire at that level.
He said going into the 2020 polls, the commission would revamp those committees and establish some for the new regions, and explained that it was only when the regional media advisory committees were unable to settle the matters that they would be referred to the headquarters.
He announced that together with the National Peace Council, the commission was developing guidelines on hate speech because all the political parties indulged in it and it would be in the interest of all Ghanaians when the language used was civil.