EC boss, Jean Mensa

The Minority Chief Whip, Governs Kwame Agbodza has strongly criticised the Electoral Commission (EC) and its Chair, Jean Adukwei Mensa.

In a scathing response to the recent press conference held by the EC Chair, Agbodza refuted the attempt to use Parliament as justification for what he perceives as an unjust strategy by the Commission to suppress first time voter numbers.

“One of the false, weak, and wishy-washy excuses the EC Chair, Madam Jean Adukwei Mensa, sought to canvass at her press conference to justify the EC’s dogged determination to suppress first-time voters is her claim that the Commission is acting within the constraints of its work-plan and budget as approved by Parliament,” Agbodza stated.

The Minority Chief Whip vehemently challenged the validity of the claims of the EC boss that the Commission did not have a budget to decentralise the registration process to the Electoral area level, asserting that Parliament’s approval of the EC’s budget for 2023 did not entail any reductions.

“Parliament, in considering the Electoral Commission’s budgetary estimates for 2023, its Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) from 2023-2026, and the Electoral Commission’s actual appropriation for 2023, did not take a pesewa out of the Commission’s requests,” he emphasised.

The budget figures presented by Agbodza paint a stark picture. “Indeed, both Appendix 4A (MDA Expenditure Allocation) of the 2023 Budget Statement and the Third Schedule of the Appropriations Act 2022 (Act 1090), as well as the EC’s own Programme-Based Budget Estimates contained in its MTEF, put the EC’s total budget for 2023 at GH₵386,047,606. Out of this figure, the EC budgeted a rounded figure of GH₵56,059,846 for registration of voters in 2023.”

Mr Agbodza stressed that, Parliament approved a generous budget for the Electoral Commission, stating, “It is important to state that the Electoral Commission’s budgetary allocation for 2023 is far more than all the budgetary allocations of the Ministry of Information and its agencies, the National Development Planning Commission, the National Media Commission, the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, and the Right to Information Commission, put together.”

“There can be no justification on the part of an Electoral Commission that is hell-bent on disenfranchising voters by placing strictures and fetters on the inalienable rights of Ghanaians to register to vote in public elections and referenda, instead of implementing programmes to expand that right as it is enjoined by law to do”, the Adaklu MP stated.

Mr Agbodza had a stern warning to the EC and its Commissioners; “Jean Mensa will not be allowed to use Parliament as a convenient excuse for her lawless conduct, and as representatives of the people, we will soon be demanding accountability from her and the other Commissioners.”

The ongoing voter registration exercise in the EC’s district offices across the country has drawn widespread criticism from political parties and civil society organisations who are of the view that the EC has not justified the reason for limiting the exercise to its district offices.