In simple terms, rigging is making all efforts in denying legitimate votes from entering into the ballot box and at the same time making sure illegitimate votes got in, got accepted and counted.
And there are many ways of achieving this – from preventing qualified people from registering as voters and bringing in unqualified ones to register right through to moneyocracy, where money and gifts are used to influence voting or simply buy votes.
And it must be said that rigging in this Republic of Ghana, started under Kwame Nkrumah’s watch.
In order to have full control over Parliament, Nkrumah cleverly passed the National Assembly (Disqualification) Act of 1959 which automatically disqualified any Member of Parliament who was imprisoned under the Preventive Detention Act and the False Report Bill.
So, with any false accusation, by law the unfortunate MP would be jailed without trial and his seat opened up for by-elections. MPs, like Modesto Apaloo and R.R. Amponsah lost their seats through this method.
And through rigging,with sheer intimidation among others, the Convention People’s Party (CPP) grabbed those seats. It must be made clear here that, some of these members of Parliament (MPs) were poached from some other constituencies or regions to contest and win seats in areas they did not hail from or were even ordinarily residing in.
All said, however, the most peaceful elections were the 1969 and 1979 elections, where none of the rival camps thought it necessary to adopt wrong tactics to rig the elections, except in minor cases where rural electorates were deceived that days have been assigned for voting for each contesting party and the Nkrumaist party would be the first. That first day was the Election Day.
Ghanaians thought there was political maturity in Ghana until the National Democratic Congress (NDC), came into the picture in 1992.
Rawlings cleverly developed a rigging mechanism by first crushing businesses belonging to persons he perceived would never join him, so that they will not have enough money to fund political parties.
Political persecutions became rife during the PNDC era as very good and legally established private businesses belonging to people like Edward Osei Boakye (Boakye Mattress), J.K Siaw, B.A. Mensah, Appiah Menka, Kwabena Darko, Djany Selby and numerous others were attacked with some taken over by the state and later sold to foreign companies after mismanagement by the State.
The district assembly concept was implemented by Rawlings and there was registration of voters to vote during the district assembly elections. When one registers, he or she was not given a voter ID card, but a paper receipt.
Years later, Rawlings, who earlier vowed never to allow political pluralism in our governance, decided on constitutional civilian rule. When the gates were opened, certain communities were no-go areas for other parties, due to strong government influence which became an effective means of rigging. It was in such areas that voters could vote more than once in the full glare of the EC staff and security agents.
During the 1992 General Elections, opaque ballot boxes were used and these were placed in classrooms and not in the open. Under such confinements, the voter can empty his pockets off thumb printed ballots and push them into the box. These boxes were already filled with thumb printed ballots which favoured the NDC.
So many cases of electoral malpractices took place in the November 1992General Elections to elect president and the NPP compiled these into a bestselling non-fiction document called The Stolen Verdict. To this day, the NDC has not been able to come out and challenge its contents.
Moneycracy in our body politics was introduced by the NDC when cutlasses, wellington boots, kettles, half pieces of cloth and at most ¢200.00 notes were put in empty match boxes and given to the voters as handshake.
From 1992 to this day, moneycracy has gone through the roof with high capital items like flatscreen televisions, fridges, deep freezers, gas cookers, gas cylinders, motorbikes, many bags of cement and even vehicles to be converted into taxis and passenger buses were doled out to electorates to enhance the political party’s chances at the polls.
What is interesting here is that flatscreen televisions, fridges and deep freezers which need electricity to operate are gifted to people in rural communities which have no access to electricity.
Ghana had to steadily trek through from receipts as voter ID, through to black and white ID cards, to coloured IDs and finally to biometric ID cards all in efforts to combat malpractices.
Two presidential election petitions have taken place in this country to challenge results declared by the EC. In the first one, the NPP candidate, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo challenged the 2012 results and came out with strong evidence to prove that during and after the elections, things did not go according to our electoral laws.
In giving the Supreme Court verdict, Justice Atuguba began by drawing Ghanaians attention to the fact that no African country has overturned results of presidential elections through the courts and Ghana cannot be an exception.
He then went on to overturn a Constitutional provision as clearly stated in Art. 49 (3), that the presiding officer at the polling station is mandated to sign the results sheets in the presence of all at the station. It was quite obvious where the Supreme Court was leading Ghanaians to, and with the verdict going in favour of the defendant was a shock but not surprising.
In 2021, the NDC candidate also petitioned the Supreme Court asking to declare the NDC winners of the 2020 General Elections. The opposition party claimed it had won the elections, however in court, it only sought to ask the judges to make the EC do the right thing by properly declaring the results.
According to star witness Asiedu Nketia, the NDC had no problems with the results. Another witness, Rojo Mettle Nunoo sought to define rigging as being offered tea without bread or biscuit for breakfast and another,Kpessa-Wythe insisted that he was sent out of the premises by the EC only to hear the results being declared on the way.
All said, the way the NDC would jump at the least opportunity to criticize and accuse the Electoral Commission and its Commissioner of making attempts to rig Election 2024, one would have thought that this political party will stand out clean and shun any form of rigging and any form of electoral malpractices.
What will the NDC do, if the EC was found to have removed names from the Voters’ Register and replaced them with unqualified persons prior to a General Elections, with the NPP in power? And during that General Election, what willthe NDC do if at polling stations some politicians from the NPP side are seen openly influencing voters with cash gifts?
Well, readers, these events do not have the hand of the Electoral Commissioner and her Commission in them. These horrifying electoral malpractices were the artwork of the NDC as it was found out during its recent presidential and parliamentary primaries.
An aspirant, Dr Duffuor, found out that thousands of names have been deleted from the party’s delegates album and thousands of unqualified ones gained entry into it. He petitioned the court which found out that he was speaking the truth and placed an injunction of the primaries until the register had been cleaned up. Arm twisting and what have you, made Dr Duffuor withdraw his suit and subsequently also withdrew from the primaries.
The NDC went into its party primaries with a jaundiced register which will not be accepted as credible, in any elections. The question here is, will the NDC have the moral right to challenge the EC, even if based on perception, about such irregularities? If the NDC can gladly go into elections with a flawed register, then it better shut up and stop wasting Ghanaians’ ears when it perceives anything as suchagainst the EC.
It is an electoral offence to influence voters with cash and other gifts at the polling station areas. And yet, during the recent NDC primaries, there were reports of such cases. Video evidence showed a lady, alleged to be aspirant Juliana Kinang-Wassan of EjuraSekyedumasi constituency, in the bucket of a pick-up, spraying cedi notes with the least denomination of GH¢5.00 and highest of GH¢100.00, unto excited crowd of delegates.
Then in the Adenta Constituency, some delegates were seen making allegations that an aspirant, Nana Oye Bampoe Addo, dished out between GH¢2,000.00 and GH¢3,000.00 to each delegate. This sounds a bit scarybecause if it is true, it means Nana Oye splashed at least GH¢3,765,000.00 on delegates numbering at least 2,510.
And here we have the NDC seriously complaining that there is no money in the system and yet this is what happens in their camp, where money is distributed as freely as bottled water is distributed during functions.
If such huge sums of money are distributed in the open then one must wonder how much was distributed on the quiet. Vote-buying is an electoral offence.
Electoral malpractice is the penchant of the NDC and this has been clearly exhibited during its latest primaries. From now onwards will the NDCbe able to challenge the EC or any other party on electoral issues?
Hon Daniel Dugan