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Is it time to change the way the EC Chairperson is elected?

By Dominic Yooku deGraft Aidoo
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“Dignity consists not in possessing honours, but in the consciousness that we deserve them.” (Aristotle – Greek Philosopher)

 

The sexist remarks that the Electoral Commission’s Chairperson exchanged sexual favours for her post is repugnant, provocative, unwarranted, and unfair. An unprovoked attack on a woman whose pedigree as a Public Servant is admired by many. I add my voice to the plethora of condemnation. Indeed, it must be condemned in no uncertain terms. I write as always from my perspective.

The excessive publicity on this saga shows, in on breath, both the hypocritical and biased nature of some Ghanaians. The selective nature of the condemnation was evident for all to see. An attack of such nature should never be looked on without criticism. However, the sad truth is that Ghana is polarised on political lines. My wish then, at best, will be described by some as a dream.

The insult, in my opinion, was an attack on women. The sad truth though, is that the abuse on women occurs daily in Ghana. Are Ghanaians shouting from the rooftops because this onslaught was on an “Elite” woman? This is the hypocrisy we are confronted with.

The barrage of condemnation is unprecedented, to say the least, and this, I welcome. But we must extend the same overtures to the voiceless women in society. They matter too. The good people of Ghana should not only speak out for the privileged few all the time, and speak mutedly while the vulnerable women are abused in society.

 

The rights of women must cover all, irrespective of their background, religion, age, ethnicity, education, race etc. It must simply be a respect for women, and not some selected few. Those making political capital out of this unfortunate saga must be singled out and shamed.

Some, claiming to be feminist activists, are also being selective. True feminists do not show selectivity in who they support. And it surely cannot be for political or any other reason. A feminist champions the cause of women because he/she believes in the cause.

I was brought up to respect all, irrespective of age, sex, race, etc., and to support the rights of women as equal partners in a society. Especially, in the African society, where men have had a field day for far too long, I personally do not believe in the wild and serious allegations against the EC Chairperson.

It may be for this reason that many are encouraging the EC Chair Lady to seek legal redress. I have admired, with great awe, the posturing of the EC Chair on this matter. The fact that she has not yet uttered a word on this shows dignity.

Another option open to the EC Chair Lady is for her to see this as a “professional hazard” and allow the storm to pass. She has an excellent résumé. My own checks have indicated that she was a brilliant lawyer when she was in private practice. It is not surprising then that right thinking Ghanaians discounted the allegation the minute the attack was launched.

The question, which I am struggling to answer though, is what might have triggered this unprovoked and vile attack. Could this stem from the seemingly cosy relationship that the EC has with some of the political parties?

I am struggling to put a finger on this. Surely the legacy of the EC Chair will be defined by the outcome of the November 2016 Elections. Whatever happens, she has written her name in the history books of Ghana? The nature of the commentary, in the annals of Ghana’s history, will be determined post-November 2016.

The EC Chair has a difficult job at hand.  By all means, let us be critical of her work. Let us even use due process and other legitimate means to ensure that all parties to the contest are treated fairly. Personal attacks should not have a place in the politics of Ghana, and certainly, not such sexist attacks. The good people of Ghana must be vigilant and ensure that the EC delivers a free fair and credible General Election, as per their constitutional mandate.

In as much as I personally disagree with the constitutional provision allowing a contestant to an election to have the preserve to appoint the referee (EC Chairperson), I maintain that the current EC Chairperson has the requisite experience and qualification to take up the position.

The appointment was the prerogative of the President, based on the recommendation of the Council of State, the majority of whom he had appointed. Let us be clear here, no law has been broken, if anything at all, the President discharged this duty, as per his constitutional mandate.

The issue in my opinion is to do with that Constitution provision that allows for this. I do not have any formal qualification in Law. Let alone Constitutional Law. I am a Chartered Accountant.

My education in Law, at best, can be described as informal. Clearly a participant in a competition cannot be the one who appoints the Referee (EC Chairperson) to oversee the game. Such a provision makes it very difficult for the EC Chairperson to be truly independent.

The EC Chairperson must be independent, and “SEEN” to be independent. But the manner of the appointment makes it difficult for the latter to be fulfilled. Could that be the genesis of the frustration of many? I do not know.

It is therefore not surprising that many, including me, are calling for an amendment to the Constitutional Provision on how the EC Commissioners should be appointed. We must, at the earliest opportunity, review the Constitutional provision governing the appointment of the EC Chairperson.

Leaders of political parties will learn the hard way that whatever they do has ripple effects on Ghana internationally and at home. It is, therefore, imperative that they conduct their business in a manner that is befitting, admirable, and honourable.

The founding fathers will agree with whoever made the statement: “The remarks about the EC Chairperson are not only grossly repugnant, but also misogynistic.” The day those sexist remarks was uttered, indeed, was a sad day in Ghana.

God Bless Ghana

 

Email Dominic: [email protected]