Following the recent Supreme Court decision which paved the way for the Electoral Commission (E.C) to compile a new voters’ register, the commission began the exercise on 30th June 2020 with the expectation that the World Health Organization (WHO) safety protocols for preventing the spread of the deadly Covid-19 virus, which include social and physical distancing, thorough washing of hands with soap under running water, wearing of nose mask and frequent application of hand sanitizer would be strictly observed.
Regrettably, the Center for Ethical Governance and Administration (CEGA) has observed with great worry and trepidation that the protocols have been largely ignored even as new cases of the virus increase astronomically by the day. Daily reports from registration centers indicate that these protocols have been ignored in the midst of astronomical rise.
In addition, the rainy season is here with us and the associated cold weather, according to medical experts, provides fertile grounds for the virus to flourish. Data from the Ghana Health Service indicated that up to 25% of Covid-19 cases were detected in June where the rainy season started.
It has also come to light that seven testing centers for Covid-19 suspected cases have been shut down due to shortages of the necessary test kits. This has resulted in thousands of samples left untested. Undue pressure has therefore been brought to bear on the Noguchi Memorial Institute in Accra and the Kumasi Center for Collaborative Research (KCCR) in Kumasi.
New figures released by the Ghana Health Service on 5th July 2020 are deeply worrying.
New cases – 697
Confirmed cases – 20,085
Recovered/Discharged – 14,870
Deaths – 122
Active – 5,093
Since the outbreak of the pandemic, independent health experts have expressed doubts about the figures periodically released by the health authorities. The true picture of the pandemic cannot be seen in the recovery figures which to all intents and purposes are totally meaningless. The seriousness of the pandemic can be seen in the new cases, confirmed cases and death occurrences some of which are not even recorded.
Meanwhile the Ghana Medical Association has reported the loss of four (4) of its members to Covid-19 infection. In addition to this, a good number of government officials and parliamentarians have fallen victim to the infection and are mostly at the Intensive Care Units (ICU’s) in Accra and Kumasi.
Unexpectedly, the Minister for Information, Hon. Kojo Oppong Nkrumah in a carefully crafted statement broke the news that President Akufo Addo, on the advice of doctors has taken a 14-day precautionary self-isolation measure in compliance with Covid-19 protocols from 4th July, 2020. The Minster further indicated that the president had elected to do so after at least one person within his close circle had tested positive for Covid-19 on 4th July, 2020. Medically speaking, isolation is prescribed for people who are already sick. Isolation separates and restricts the movement of sick people so that they could not spread the disease to healthy people. So for the president to test negative and self-isolates on the advice of doctors remains a huge puzzle.
It would be recalled that the president was seen in media reports two days earlier to his self-isolation visiting some three voter card registration centers in Accra where the much trumpeted basic WHO Covid-19 protocols were not adhered to.
The timely isolation of the president not long after visiting the registration centers must send a strong signal to the Electoral Commissioner, Mrs. Jean Mensa and all Ghanaians that registration centers are real Covid-19 death traps. It would therefore be appropriate to take a bold decision to call off the whole costly, deadly and unnecessary exercise which has brought untold hardship to millions of Ghanaians.
The E.C must note that the Covid-19 pandemic has extended its reach to schools, homes, offices and wherever people congregate, so registration centers are fertile grounds.
It has been observed of late that stakeholders who previously were advising government have withdrawn because most of them have realized that government is no more interested in working with them to stop the infection in the country. It is therefore not a surprise that the infection rate continues to rise with no concrete steps to curtail it.
It is important to note that the Health Minister, Hon. Kwaku Agyemang Manu has publicly confessed that they have done everything possible to control the virus, but have failed. He lamented that he is tired and President Akufo Addo is also tired. That is why the Jean Mensa must stop the registration now.
The sad results of these failures in the management of the Covid-19 is that Ghana has been excluded from the list of countries whose nationals have been give the green light to enter European Union member countries when their borders were re-opened from 1st July, 2020 after their closure due to the outbreak of the pandemic. The EU statement revealed that the criteria to determining countries for which the travel restrictions should be lifted included “the epidemiological situation and containment measures, including physical distancing as well as social and economic considerations.” Ghana obviously fell short of the EU indicators, hence the denial.
It is now obvious that the E.C is running behind time, and there is the fear that December elections are likely to be run with a provisional register instead of a certified, final voter register. The CEGA is aware that a new Constitutional Instrument (C.I) titled ‘Public Elections Regulation-2020’ was laid in parliament on Thursday 2nd July, 2020 and the instrument defines a registered voter as ‘a person whose name appears on the Provisional Voter Register’. And this is contrary to what is in the C.I 94 which defines a registered voter as ‘ a person whose name appears on the ‘Certified Final Voter’s Register.’ The new C.I is expected to be referred to the subsidiary Legislation Committee of parliament before a final decision is taken by the house for it to come into force before 7th December, 2020.
Apart from all these Dr. Bossman Asare, a Deputy Commissioner at the Electoral Commission has made it known that only 10% coverage was achieved the first phase of the registration.
In view of the above considerations, the CEGA hereby calls on the E.C to immediately suspend the mass registration exercise in order to save precious lives as the required Covid-19 protocols have failed to materialize in almost all registration centers.
Limit the registration to first-time voters which would greatly reduce the numbers at the registration centers to enable proper Covid-19 protocols to be observed.
Fall on the old voter register and voter cards which are still available and intact to save the situation as the E.C is running out of time.
Prof. Ohene Adjei, Executive Director – 054445566
Dr. Justice Moses Aheto, Executive Secretary – 0242527292
Mr. George Yankah, Communications Director – 0242161111