The Electoral Commission has since Thursday, come under intense criticism by smaller political parties for announcing a 500% increment in filing fees for presidential nominees, and a 1000% increment for parliamentary nominees in the December polls. Some political parties, particularly the smaller ones, are bitter, saying the EC is attempting to exclude them from participating in the elections.
The anger of the smaller political parties, so called, against the EC for the sharp increment in filing fees is perhaps summed up in the comments of the Campaign Strategist of the Convention People’s Party, Kwabena Bomfeh.
“You do not need financial arm or muscle to contribute your quota to nation building. Young people who are beginning life and want to contribute by way of offering themselves in terms of leadership when they have the skill, the talent, the zeal and the capacity to lead, you saying that if they don’t have the financial muscle they should go hang? No! Our Electoral Commission cannot do that”
While the CPP was speaking against the fees, its flagbearer, Ivor Greenstreet, reportedly said they will bow out of the elections in protest against the fees.
The People’s National Convention (PNC), threatened a court action if the EC did not review the fees, and the Democratic People’s Party’s Thomas Ward Brew, a former Presidential aspirant, said the EC was inviting chaos for the high filing fees. What is however interesting is the fact that, the political parties have always charged higher filing fees for their internal elections than what is charged by the EC for national elections.
N3: In the run to the 2016 elections, for instance, political parties charged very high fees for persons willing to contest either in the presidential or parliamentary primaries. Only the All People’s Congress (APC), made its nomination available to prospective nominees free of charge. For the NPP, Presidential hopefuls paid ten thousand Ghana cedis as nomination fees and 75 thousand Ghana cedis as filing fee, totaling 85 thousand Ghana cedis. That is 35 thousand cedis in excess of what the EC is now charging. Though prospective parliamentary nominees were charged a flat rate of 10 thousand Ghana cedis, constituencies with sitting MPs were made to pay additional Ghc20,000 for what they described as development fees.
The governing National Democratic Congress (NDC) however charged as much as the EC is currently charging; 50 thousand Ghana cedis for presidential hopefuls; and 10 thousand Ghana cedis for parliamentary nominees. The Convention People’s Party (CPP), probably topped all other political parties. Presidential Hopefuls were charged as much as 125 thousand Ghana cedis as filing fees, about 4 times what the EC is currently charging.
With these charges, the APC believes, the political parties are simply involved in double-standards. According to the party General Secretary, Razak Poku, “they are being hypocritical. Our own internal elections we have made it very expensive. We can’t blame the Electoral Commission for making democracy expensive, we started it”.
The CPP National Chairman Prof. Edmund Delle, disagrees with him.
“That argument is flawed. We are private organizations; but the EC is a state-owned organization and the state funds it. We are also aware that the donor community is always prepared to support the EC”.
Well, the political parties have already argued that the EC’s filing fees could exclude many other people from participating in the democratic process.
But should they themselves not demonstrate the inclusion they want to see through their internal party processes and operations?
By: Sixtus Dong Ullo /Citifmonline.com /Ghana
Follow @ sixtus_gh