After conducting a successful referendum, the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC), Ms Jean Mensa, has said: “We are getting on with the job”.
She said this while addressing an international assemblage of election managers in Accra during which she narrated her seeming ‘baptism of fire’ represented by the referendum which greeted her soon upon assuming office.
The seeming challenges did not deter her, as well as her commissioners, from getting on with the task of managing a referendum which, as she put it, was “largely successful”.
In her first major public speech since assuming office as head of the EC, she said: “The electoral process is the midwife that births a democracy. It provides legitimacy to our leaders and democratic institutions and therefore needs not only to be maintained but also more importantly fortified.”
The four-day event which ends today is being organised by the International Centre For Parliamentary Studies, UK, in collaboration with the EC and the Centre For Democratic Development (CDD). It bears the theme: “ Building Innovative Strategies For Better Electoral Systems Globally”.
“We are fortunate to have institutions like the International Centre for Parliamentary Studies (ICPS) which continue to provide a platform on which these processes are strengthened and nurtured,” she said adding that “it is of utmost importance that we continue to strengthen Election Management Bodies (EMBs) to ensure that citizens respect the processes that elect their leaders as being free, credible and transparent.”
Political parties she said must freely participate in the electoral process and that the right of citizens to express their preference is protected and guaranteed.
On the commitment of the EC towards the achievement of this goal, she said: “We the Electoral Commission of Ghana are committed to these ideals. Only recently, we restored the founding principles of the Electoral Commission, namely Transparency, Fairness and Integrity and we are determined to abide by these principles. So while the Electoral Commission of Ghana has made significant progress towards perfecting its systems and processes in the last two decades, there is more room for improvement.”
Turning her attention to the cost of elections she said: “More work must be done to address the high costs of our elections and the challenge of building institutional capacity.”
The EC gave an assurance that she was ready to embrace technological innovations after operating the biometric registration for the past years as she posed the rhetoric questions: “How can we leapfrog and begin to use new technologies in our electoral process? What new biometric systems are the most efficient and most reliable?”
Ms Mensa lamented the high cost associated with the procurement of hardware namely biometric registration and verification devices used in the electoral process and hoped that relevant feedback and information on efficient systems and equipment would originate from the engagement of the experts.
In buttressing her point about the cost of elections, she recalled how in 2016 for example, the cost of elections in Ghana was $12.03 per voter, compared to $9.33 per voter in Nigeria (2015) and $5 per voter in Tanzania (2015).
For a lady credited with being the first to organize the presidential debate series in the country’s politics as Executive Director of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), her dexterity at handling electoral issues is unsurprising.
By A.R. Gomda|Daily guide africa