#ECForum: IMANI Kicks Against New Register

Policy Think Tank, IMANI Ghana, has rejected calls for a new voters’ register insisting cleaning the register would be more expedient and less costly.

A representative of IMANI, Sam Poku, made this statement during a presentation at a forum on Ghana’s current voters’ register.

The opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) has been leading the campaign for a new register as it claims the existing one is bloated with names of foreigners and minors.

They have since petitioned the EC, which called for proposals from all political parties and civil society organizations.

The NPP’s former Chairman Peter Mac Manu at Thursday’s forum argued for a new register.

After answering questions from the five-member panel on his presentation, Mr. Mac Manu concluded that cost and time constraints should not deter the country from producing a new and credible register.

But the Policy Think Tank, IMANI Ghana, in a brief presentation, shot down the NPP’s request explaining that the errors on the register can be corrected to make it credible.

The Chairman of the Board of Trustees of IMANI Ghana, Sam Poku, presented IMANI’s six points as follows.

1. IMANI believes that a new register per say may not be the solution considering the cost and other resources it will take. If there is a chance to fix the register, that should be preferred especially under our present economic circumstances.

2. Secondly, the register should be placed on a secured website opened to all Ghanaians for viewing; this will call for education in computer literacy”.

3. We should also select sensitive data to be excluded like voters’ ID numbers.

4.All entries that voters will be unhappy with should be forwarded to the EC for rectification.

5. Any registered voter may go to a special part of the website to enter his or her name, Voter ID number to confirm such and the EC upon scrutiny can allow it.

6. Finally, the cleaned register shall be used for the 2016 elections and remain on the website throughout the period”.

Members of the panel subjected IMANI’s proposal to critical scrutiny forcing Kofi Bentil, Vice President of IMANI Ghana, to come to the rescue of his colleague, Mr. Sam Poku.

Kofi Bentil said “In our view, if an error was committed in the beginning by using the NHIS cards to register people, we must admit that all those entries are erroneous and anomalous; but whether that person should be struck off the voters’ register is another matter. And that matter happens to bother on whether they are qualified to be voters or not; and our view is that, if it turns out to be that they are qualified but they came through the NHIS card now can be considered to be illegal, they must be given an opportunity to correct that error. So in a sense for us, that’s part of the cleaning process”.

He further explained that “If we have a register of about 9 to 12 million people; the work involved in cleaning, may or may not be more difficult than building a new one. The determination of which of the two options is more difficult, more expensive and more expedient, should be made by an august body like yours (panel). But our view is that, it should not be said by anybody that a new register is by all means what we have to get. What we need is a credible register; and it may be that a new one will give us that; but that is not automatic. It may also be that even if out of 9 million entries one million of them are in error, cleansing one million may not be as difficult as redoing 9 million” Kofi Bentil emphasized.

The 2-day forum ends on Friday after which the EC will receive recommendations from the 5-member panel and take a final decision on the matter.