In the process she has succeeded in disenfranchising a section of the electorate who do not plan to vote for the four candidates whose filing papers she accepted. Not surprisingly, they feel like their candidate has been unfairly treated. The Electoral Commission says it’s simply applying the law. All well and good. The trouble though is when its laws are perceived as not being fairly applied.
Let me use the example of two of the candidates, Papa Kwesi Nduom of the PPP and Nana Rawlings of the NDP, because the Electoral Commissions disqualification raises more questions than it provides answers and we all want to have faith in the decisions the Electoral Commission makes.
Let me quote the EC:
- Papa Kwesi Nduom – Progressive People’s Party (PPP)
The Commission is unable to accept Dr. Nduom’s nomination because the number of subscribers to his forms did not meet the requirements of Regulation 7 (2) (b) of CI 94. The details are as follows:
- One subscriber Richard Aseda (‘Asida’ on the Voters’ Register), with Voter ID no 7812003957) endorsed the forms in two different districts (pages 21 and 39).
The subscriber was found to be on the Voter’s Register in one district thereby disqualifying his second subscription and reducing the total number of subscribers to below the minimum required by the Law.
The same subscriber (Richard Aseda (‘Asida’) endorsed the form with different signatures in both portions of the nomination form. This raises questions as to the legitimacy of one or both signatures.
Let’s look at the case of Nana Rawlings:
Mrs. Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings – National Democratic Party
The Commission is unable to accept Mrs. Rawlings’ nomination because the number of subscribers to her forms did not meet the requirements of Regulation 7 (2) (b) of CI 94.
- One subscriber on page 89 of her nomination forms is not a validly registered voter and illegally registered twice and so is on the Exclusion list of multiple voters. Details are:
District: Nanumba South
Voter ID no: 6617004814 (28.3.2012) Voter ID no: 2126900022 (04.8.2014).
End of quote.
Several other candidates were disqualified for other reasons but for the purpose of this article, I have restricted my comments to those I have information on – Papa Kwesi Nduom and Nana Rawlings.
Now the reason the law doesn’t appear to be fairly applied is because of Clause 175 of the same law. This is the Clause that requires the Commission to inform the Presidential aspirant or nominee about any discrepancy in the filing papers and provides the opportunity for corrections to be made.
The EC is on record as saying it had been in touch with some parties after receiving their filing papers. So clearly some were able to avail themselves of the opportunity provided in Clause 175 while others could not. The NDP was called in to correct certain mistakes and to resubmit. In the case of the PPP, there was no effort to have them make any corrections.
In the end, Dr Nduom and Mrs Rawlings were disqualified because they provided 431 out of 432 subscribers with a dispute over the credibility of one single subscriber. Enough grounds to reject them? Whatever happened to the spirit of the law? When one obeys the letter of the law but not the spirit, one is obeying the literal interpretation of the words of the law but not necessarily the intent of those who wrote it. Surely the law was not designed to exclude candidates and be punitive only.
In 2008, after going through the filing papers of the candidates, the Electoral Commissioner, Dr Kwadzo Afari Djan would often give the candidates the opportunity to correct any mistakes they may have made and to represent their papers. He received the filing papers with a smile on his face; a far cry from Charlotte Osei’s disqualifications and threat of prosecution.
The Electoral Commissioner told us why she disqualified those she disqualified. Are we to take it that those who qualified did everything right? Are we to just take her word for it? Did those who qualified get a chance to correct any ‘mistakes’ and if they did why wasn’t this opportunity also provided others? There appears to be a selective application of the law; you can’t have a game of ludo going in which some are allowed back kick and others not. My understanding is that the PPP submitted their forms before 9.00 in the morning on Friday the 30th of September. Plenty of time to make corrections and even bring someone from the Central or Volta Region to make corrections. So why were they not contacted and informed of the corrections they needed to make?
In the case of Nana Rawlings, they appear to have been called to make some corrections which they did after which the forms were resubmitted and accepted. 10 days after nominations had closed, the NDP was accused of double registration and barred.
The EC itself has said that they gave others an opportunity to ‘meet the requirements’ after they had submitted their papers. Or is this the special dispensation we have come to know? How can some people have a special dispensation in one instance and others not? Which rules does the commission enforce and which doesn’t it enforce? Here are two examples of laws not enforced although the EC has threatened sanctions:
the provision calling for political parties to have offices in two thirds of districts.
the provision for the filing of audited accounts annually and the submission of expenditure returns 6 months after general elections and after bye elections. The EC must tell us which parties failed the above 2 requirements and what happened to them.This is what makes nonsense of the entire process. Which rules can candidates flout and which can’t they flout?
People, there are things that don’t affect us directly but that we must be indignant enough about or we all lose. I have been astonished as to how easily the apparent fate of the disqualified candidates has been accepted. The disqualified are on their own. As usual, we are all looking out for our individual selves. Let’s remember though that “Aba a yedi bo takyi, ye do bo baah”. We forget its the same set of rules we shall all be judged by. Next time you go for a job and you don’t get it, even though you are the most qualified candidate, don’t be surprised. And you think you have recourse? No. Not when they apply the law as they wish. And people have the nerve to tell Nduom to just go and join another party. Wow, speak about adding insult to injury.
Just listen to the post disqualification discussion in the media; on radio in particular. No sign of indignation at what has happened. They have accepted the Electoral Commission’s excuse without question. They are poking fun at those who were disqualified. How, they ask, can a man “who claims to be so successful”, be unable to fill simple forms accurately?
The NDC and the NPP are untouchable because they are the big guns. We allow our so called “mpanyinfo” to get away with anything. It’s a cultural thing. However morally corrupt they may be. Just because they’ve been around for longer, they must be better. This same cultural trait is the reason why we allow the President so much power. We put all the power in one mans hands. I daresay this comes from our chieftaincy system. We act like some divine inspiration descends on whoever we select when he sits on the throne. But the sooner we see ourselves as all human and flawed, the better. Currently all men are equal. But some are more equal than others.