Feature Article of Wednesday, 26 December 2012
Columnist: Duodu, Cameron
OH WHAT A BLEAK CHRISTMAS!
By CAMERON DUODU
I never properly understood it when people used to say, rather glibly, I thought, that “a chain is as strong as its weakest link”.
But I now understand the saying perfectly well. If you live in a country in which C51 million (over $20m) can easily flow from the coffers of the state into an individual's account – without it being queried and stopped, through eagle-eyed enquiries about the work done for that payment made by (a) the Attorney-General's Department, (b) the Ministry of Finance, (c) the Accountant-General's Department, (d) the Bank of Ghana and ( e) the Office of the President – until the Auditor-General does a 'post-mortem' (by which time the money would have been truly 'executed' till it was dead!) then you are a very weak country indeed.
For if, in your country, the 'system' can allow C51 million to be stolen by someone without his having to do any work except write letters, then what can't be done there?
In considering such happenings and others yet to be fully unearthed, I have come to the conclusion that we in Ghana have been* over-rating ourselves* for years. Friends of mine – like Captains Dorkenoo, Sam and Spencer, all formerly of Ghana Airways – were going to the best schools for pilots, more than 50 years ago, and conquering everything thrown at them. They could flawlessly land the unwieldy VC-10 aircraft as if it was on rails. So some of us were inspired to think that given the opportunity, we would be as good as any people on earth.
Yet, at the same time as our pilots were delighting us with their skills, the Vice-Chancellor of our University of Science and Technology, no less, was reported to be using an “occult pendulum” to determine whether students brought before him for punishment were guilty of the offences of which they were accused, or not!
Ok that was long ago. But what about today, when a former Chief Executive of the Volta River Authority, who wouldn't allow you to go scot-free if you so much as stole a snail from the soup-pot of the Authority's canteen, and who, personally, fought a case in the courts for about seven years -- in order to retain possession of his FM radio station -- can publicly ridicule his own party for attempting to seek redress in a court of law, for what the party believes to be a falsification of election results? What sort of society breeds such a schizophrenic attitude in its intelligentsia?
We live under a constitutional government. The Constitution has made provisions for electing our head of state. One of these provisions is that if any of the parties taking part in an election disagrees with the declared results of the election, it should take its case to the Supreme Court within 21 days of the election result being declared. .
The NPP candidate, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo,
says the results were falsified. So he is compiling figures to prove to the Supreme Court, beyond any reasonable doubt, that the results were indeed falsified.
What is wrong with that? We have all been clamouring (ok, we football fans!) for cameras to be used to determine whether a football has entered the net or not – when the referee's decision seems wrong to us. This technique of reviewing dodgy umpires' decisions is already used in the game of cricket. In that game, a “third umpire” now routinely uses photo evidence to determine issues that one side or the other claims the umpires on the field of play have got wrong.
Yet, as I say, top members of our intelligentsia think it is wrong to contest an election result, on the basis of the very procedure laid down by our Constitution to resolve electoral disputes.
Some say that contesting the result in court means one is a bad loser. Or worse, it means that one is trying to “disgrace” Ghana before the international community, whose observers have declared the election “free and fair.”
What type of mentality is that? The NPP, by deciding on court action, is confessing publicly that it was “outsmarted” by NDC operatives at the collation centres, if not at the polling stations. If the rigging was so cleverly done that the party with the most to lose – the NPP – could not detect the rigging until after the fact, then what possibility did mere observers have of determining that something was going wrong, at the time the rigging was actually taking place?
Last week, I heard a businessman, who has invested money in Ghana, and who considers Ghana as his “home”, saying that the matter should be dropped – so that we should have peace and stability! And I asked him, “You brush the concerns of over five million voters under the carpet, and you think that will bring peace and stability?”
He said, “one of my workers said that if the presidency is taken from Mahama by the court, he will go and get a cutlass and kill every Asante he sees.”
I said “But that is primitive; it is blackmail. And you should educate your worker to see that he is wrong. If you dismiss him tomorrow without giving him adequate reason or paying him his entitlements, he will take you to court and you will do what the court says, or your business. Or his union will take you to court on his behalf. And if you fail to do what the court says, your beloved business will be sold to pay the costs of the litigation. Yet when he talks nonsense to you, you shake your head and walk away without educating him.
“You say, “I don't want Ghana to go the way of Serbia, or Bosnia, or Egypt, or Lebanon or Syria.” But how long has the Middle East, for instance, been in turmoil? And why is that? It is because the politics of the Middle East are not based on truth and fairness”.
No, I think we over-rate ourselves in Ghana, Badly. We have brains, but we refuse to use them.
Why should anyone doubt that an Electoral Commission that conducted itself in the way our EC did on 7 December 2912, could also have delivered false results, either by incompetence or through fraud? What did the RC do wrong, you ask? Ok – here goes:
Voting Materials did not arrive at every polling station at the time they were supposed to arrive. The reasons are many, but the bottom line is that the EC failed to deliver in that vital area of operation. The failure was caused by incompetence.
2. Some election officials turned up late at polling stations – again, due to incompetence.
3. Some verification machines did not work and many voters who had queued up from early morning – some as early as shortly after midnight-- left the polling stations in frustration and disgust, unable to vote. This happened despite the fact that the EC had had *six months* to learn from the failure of its computers, during the biometric registration. If this was not incompetence, what was it?
4. As a result of these anomalies, polling that should have been conducted in one day, had to be carried over to the next day. This was a display of incompetence that could have caused riots.
5. Ballot boxes from the polling stations where voting was not completed, had to be taken to police stations and kept there overnight. How secure were they during the night?
6.Some recounts of votes yielded results that were different from those originally announced by EC officials. Yet no attempt was made to establish whether the “mistakes” were genuine, or were fraudulently contrived by officials who were not impartial.
7. There is controversy over the role played by an Israeli company, STL, in the election. This company is reported to have said that it was employed by the EC to assist it variously with “connectivity”, or “data services”. Yet the EC is said to have denied that the company had any contract to work for the EC. What was the true role of this Israeli company,STL, in our election? Why the contradiction between what it says it was doing and what the EC says it was not doing, if there is nothing to hide?
These are not issues that a publicly-financed organisation like the EC should want to shrug off. Yet there are people in Ghana who want to take this vastly over-rated EC at its own word and pretend that all went well with our election!
It is said that every country gets the government it deserves. I would amend that and say this: “Every country that has people equipped with brains but who yet behave like people who have no brains at all, deserve whatever situation they get themselves into!
I believe that I have over-rated my country -- and what I see, after removing the scales from my eyes, is not at all pretty. In fact, it makes me sick.
Only the Supreme Court, by arriving at a decision that would be worthy of “Portia” (as in *A Merchant of Venice) *can restore our polity to good health.