Ghanaian Chronicle

To Overturn Or Not To Overturn

Date published: January 4, 2013

 Bonsu, Akua


When many African or developing nations witnessed a trendy end to military coup d’etats and dictatorships, and embarked upon democratic forms of governance, there are some who concluded that our collective problems of forced leadership were coming to an end. But another version was brewing – only we did not anticipate it to be even more frustrating.

When a mad soldier takes up arms and shoots his way into power and lords it over his fellow citizens for however long it takes before another mad soldier removes him, that period is marked by a sense of powerlessness, forced acceptance of bad leadership, and even visible barriers to what is possible. In a sense one can say when a wolf behaves like a wolf, it should surprise no one. But now in many African countries, we are seeing many sheep acting like wolves.

The wolves are operating in arenas where they are not allowed entry so they enter wearing the proverbial sheep’s clothing. Once there, and once they have assumed control over power, their behavior leaves no doubt as to what is underneath the clothing. What is really the difference between developing world leaders wearing suits who continue to rule their citizens without the latter’s true mandate, and their counterparts in army gear who do the same?

If democracy would endure in developing nations, then this trend of electoral fraud being used in place of machine guns for illegitimate governments to either come to power or hold onto same must stop.

In Kenya, Ivory Coast, Nigeria to cite recent examples, the people took to the streets to protest against what they saw as a subversion of their mandate. In the process thousands of lives were lost unnecessarily. The message sent in all of those instances was simple – if you are a sheep, then act as a sheep and play by the rules.

Today it is Ghanaians’ turn to protest against what they see as a subversion of their mandate. This time, they have decided to follow the rule of law and allow the Supreme Court, the final arbiter to decide on a methodically crafted petition. Besides the legal decision that looms, one cannot overlook the political component. So the question at hand is would the Supreme Court have the courage to agree with the NPP and overturn the results of the December 7 2012 presidential elections or not?

There are those who may see this as an open-and-shut legal case. According to the Electoral Commission’s own law as contained in CI 75, a voter cannot cast his or her vote without having been verified by the bio-metric verification machine in its famous no-verification-no vote declaration.

And if any polling station allowed voting without verification, results from that station would be excluded from final results. In adherence to this provision, voting was permitted to take place the following day because the bio-metric verification machines for those places had broken down.

Furthermore, the results as declared and recorded by the EC contained widespread instances of over-voting where more ballots were counted than were issued to voters at several polling stations in flagrant breach of the fundamental constitutional principle of universal adult suffrage, to wit, one man one vote. If results from these two instances alone are deducted from the final results as they should, we would have a new president.

But there is more at stake than merely overturning the results of the Ghanaian elections. At the core of democracy is accountability to the people who give or gave their sacred mandate.

If that mandate can be subverted with impunity, then governments have no reason to be accountable to the people. And in Ghana we witnessed alarming instances of flouting accountability.

How can any government act so negligently in a financial loss to the state to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars awarded to a known financier of the ruling party and other cronies, and when the Attorney General vows to investigate the loss, he is summarily fired from his post? How can 12 million British Pounds Sterling loan contracted to develop the palm oil sector go missing? The list goes on and on.

Typically voters consider these instances of power abuse and lack of accountability before giving their mandate. That mandate is sacred. It is a power given to those who have earned their trust and are willing to govern in the interest of the people. In a country where illiteracy is dangerously prevalent, if a government would rather dish out monies to friends than use it to provide free quality senior secondary school for the people, for example, that is not governing in the interest of the people.

Unfortunately, the problem of a lack of accountability to the people is not unique to Ghana. And that would not only continue, it would get worse when governments begin to get the sense that regardless of how poorly they govern, they merely have to abuse their incumbency and use electoral fraud to maintain their hold onto power.

These are but a few of the reasons why the Supreme Court of Ghana must, as a duty to humanity, overturn the illegal results declared by Dr. Kwadwo Afari Gyan in favor of John Dramani Mahama on December 9, 2012.


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