The Akufo-Addo government has wondered why former President John Mahama keeps “bastardising” the Jean Mensa-led Electoral Commission with aspersions that cast doubt on the credibility and neutrality of the election management body since it got a new boss.
Responding to the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) flag bearer’s demand for explanations about the hacking of the EC system during the 2016 general elections, Mr Oppong Nkrumah wondered why Mr Mahama never made such a request when Mrs Mensa’s immediate predecessor, Mrs Charlotte Osei, was in office.
“On the former president’s call, it’s a bit interesting that that call never came through until there was a new EC Chair”, Mr Oppong Nkrumah told journalists on Monday, 20 May 2019, adding: “It’s just an interesting point that during the tenure of the former EC Chair, we never heard him [Mr Mahama] make this request: that details of their system being hacked, etc., should be put out there”.
Earlier this month, Mr Mahama demanded answers from the EC concerning the alleged hacking into the election management body’s IT system which prompted a halt of the electronic transmission of results in the 2016 election.
Mr Mahama said he believed a full probe into the hacking was needed to enable the EC implement counter-measures to prevent similar occurrences in the future as the 2020 general elections approach.
“During the last Presidential Election in Ghana, the Electoral Commission directed its staff to stop using the electronic result transmission system to communicate results to the tallying centre because the system had been compromised.
“The results had to, therefore, be tallied manually, leading to attendant tensions in the delay of the announcement of the final results.
“As I speak, I am not aware that the Electoral Commission has carried out any investigation into what compromised their IT system. And even if they have, we, the stakeholders, the political parties, have not been briefed on what caused the corruption of the system.
“In the interest of transparency, it is important for Ghanaians to understand what happened before we go into another election,” Mahama said on Friday, 10 May 2019 at the Distinguished Speaker Seminar at the Saïd Business School, Oxford University, UK.
Additionally, Mr Mahama recently told Accra-based Citi FM in an interview that the posturing of the EC Chairperson does not indicate that she will be neutral in the 2020 polls.
In his view, Mrs Mensa has acted in ways that suggest that representatives of the political parties are a disturbance to the elections management body, a situation he said was unfortunate.
“They need to prove us wrong. We have our doubts that they can be neutral and fair … The current posture and the way they are conducting things makes us doubt that they will be neutral and fair in 2020,” Mr Mahama said in an interview aired on 20 May 2019.
He added: “The EC is not a secret society. It is not somebody’s private closet that needs to be shut, and, [we], not know what is going on there… They should open all the process.
“When the EC starts behaving like the representatives of political parties are a nuisance … then this affects the trust and confidence the people have in the EC – a neutral arbiter.”
Touching on the chair of the Commission, Mr Mahama said: “Her posture doesn’t give confidence that she is going to be neutral in this matter,” he stated.
In Mr Ooppong Nkrumah’s view, however, “I think over the years, Ghana’s Electoral Commission has often come under attack by opposition parties but has proven itself, very often, up to the task”, adding: “If anybody, at any point in time feels that he has a substantive matter against the EC or its processes, it’s also been demonstrated that there are courts in the country that have the ability to listen to whatever claims anybody may have, examine whatever evidence anybody may have and deal with it”.
“But this attempt to bastardise the EC ahead of the election, I think, should be discouraged, and parties should endeavour to play by the rules that the EC is laying out, and if parties feel that those rules are inaccurate or those rules put them at a disadvantage, there are appropriate quarters to channel those ones”, Mr Oppong Nkrumah asserted.