By Phyllis D. Osabutey
THE SENIOR Programme Manager of Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS), Mr. Isaac Owusu-Mensah has advocated the need for Ghana to establish an elections fund to service the budgetary needs of the Electoral Commission (EC) to effectively carry out its electoral mandate.
According to him, elections the world over have become increasingly expensive, demanding adequate funding for innovative mechanisms to develop and ensure that elections become more transparent and credible.
He expressed worry that the EC has over the years experienced budget expenditure cut, or delay by the release of funds from central government as a result of lack of funds.
This, he noted, was further compounded by the fact that as the EC design means of ensuring fairness and credibility of elections, so does political parties adopt means of catching up to thwart the efforts of the Commission with the attempt to cheat and win elections.
Mr. Owusu-Mensah was speaking at a two-day workshop organized by Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA), with sponsorship from KAS, for District Assemblies (DA) election candidates in the Techiman Municipality in the Brong Ahafo region on Monday. The Nkoranza South and North District Assemblies also benefitted from the workshop.
He further observed that Ghana’s general elections over the years received tremendous support from the international donor community, but these supports were drying up, as a result of gains made in the consolidation of democracy in the country.
“It is time for Ghana as a country to adopt innovative means of funding our own democracy,” he said, stressing that establishing an elections fund was one means of doing that because such a fund would enable the EC to plan and execute it programmes without any fear of Government inability to provide funds.
He added that this would go a long way to facilitate the process of adopting the biometric voters’ register and electronic voting, saying “this will also reduce the budgetary and financial pressure placed on the government.”
The KAS manager proposed that the election fund could be funded by a levy of between 1% – 5% on importation of indirect consumable items such as cars, mining and communication equipments into the country, adding “one pesewa more of communication tax could serve this need of Ghanaians.”
The MP for Nkoranza South, Hon. Twumasi Ampofo, speaking on the topic -”Strategies for Wining Elections at the District Level”, told participants to make the development of their electoral areas their primary objective for seeking the mandate of the people.
He reminded participants that the DA election is non-partisan, therefore, candidates have to work with all parties and individuals in the electoral area irrespective of their political affiliation and interest, stressing “you must consider yourselves as people seeking power to serve your communities.”
On her part, a Gender Activist and member of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) Council, Ms. Gloria Ofori-Boadu took participants through field work and how to get people to go out and vote on the Election Day.
She emphasized voter contacts, voter targeting, the need to use mobile phones to reach voters through calls and text messaging as means they can explore to emerge victorious.
In addition, she asked the candidates to take activities on the elections day very serious, by appointing credible agents who understand electoral accounting, preparation of food for polling agents, as well as getting the voters out to vote, stressing “the efforts by candidates will be in vain, if they fail to plan for the election day.”