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My Useless Vote. Critical News, 4th October 2015

Posted by Business in Ghana on October 4, 2015

Sydney Casely-Hayford, sydney@bizghana.com

We have to vote because it is the only way we can remove a government in Ghana. The other methods; votes of no confidence, impeachment, and if you want to follow JJ’s example or even maybe Antwi’s way, we won’t hail you. So we are stuck. Somewhere between Kulungugu and Half Assini, we have no say in how we remove a non-performing government.

That is where we are and that is what makes the voting matter so very important, we cannot even start jesting and being opaque with anything voting related.

I would like to hear the new Electoral Commissioner come out and tell me what she believes in. A few people have told me I am rushing the issue and she is demonstrating her capacity. But what I am saying is, no!, we must hear straight from her mouth what she believes in.

When she was offered the position and before she accepted, didn’t she know the register was the most contentious issue in our voting? I am not on the cards to be given any appointment by this government, but I will sure as hell not take any position or job offered by anyone, especially if it is for reward, if I am not clear that my vision dovetails into the offer and the philosophy of the employer.

So I think she should come out boldly and say whether she believes that the register is her critical task at this time and she will do everything to make sure we have a register that is not contentious in the after-vote event. I would like to hear her mind.

The way she has started, with someone’s eye docked out of sight and an IT company only she knows who, appointed, leaves me in doubt whether we are set on the right path.

Some persons in the Police Service and the Attorney General’s department believe that the way to engage citizens in this country is to either beat them up and blame them for violence, or take them to court before they can find the courage to prepare a suit against the State.

I think they have made a mistake with the Let My Vote Count Alliance. I have every belief that this group is prepared to push this envelope to its limit. The Police cannot win the fight on the permit to demonstrate, and by the time we finish running through the courts, it will become the process, as per the law, to simply inform the five-day notice and proceed. This is a very important step in our democracy and we will push to win.

OccupyGhana issued a press statement to buttress our view on this, we agree with the steps taken by the LMVCA, and even though we have not formally joined the Alliance, we are prepared to throw in our two-pesewa worth if a need arises. This time, we have to nail this nonsense coffin permanently shut.

Our colonial masters have different types of elections for different situations, something they evolved much later after they left the Coast D’ElMina”. They never told us how they found it necessary to do this, and because we thought we could be a communist country, we turned our back and looked east.

One of my favorites is the Police and Crime Commissioner election, with three or more candidates, using a supplementary vote system. Every four years since 2012, they vote in a Police and Crime Commissioner, responsible for holding the Chief Constable and police force to account on the public’s behalf. They oversee how crime is tackled in their area and aim to make sure the police are providing a good service.

The supplementary vote system is closer to a proportional representation system than a first past the post. In order to ensure fairer voting representation, many developed countries adopt different voting methods, but are all gradually moving in the direction of proportional representation. It makes better sense and gives citizens more control over the public purse.

Let me bring up a few more examples, again from the UK. Directly elected mayors in England (including the London Mayor) are elected using the Supplementary Vote. All local councils in England have a Mayor. The Council chooses most, however, in some areas voters directly elect the Mayor at the same time as they vote for their Councilors. There is also a Mayor of London with a wider range of powers than local council Mayors.

Then they have Local government elections in England, first past the post, between one and three Councilors to represent your ward on the local council. There are 388 local councils in England and about 20,000 Councilors.

Don’t forget the UK has close to 64 million people. We have 26 million and we represent them in 275 constituencies. We just need a little arithmetic to figure the inefficiency. But should we compare? Yes, we should. How else to see how wide the gap?

A UK election to Parliament is legendary, it is first past the post, and it is driven by sensible minds that vote the way they deem proper and right. Not like our peeps. Vote where the envelope comes from, every time you can.

The UK is divided into 650 constituencies, each with one Member of Parliament (MP). You vote for one MP to sit in the UK Parliament in Westminster and represent your constituency.

They are thinking, not sticking to the first thing they ever designed and which is now clearly deficient. They are adapting, making their country better, more attractive to the likes of me and you who will die to sit in a train, comfortable with a newspaper and a cup of coffee on the journey.

Have you traveled outside Ghana recently, to where you consider better living? Nobody will tell you what the crassness we are dealing with is all about.

I would give anything for a train from Accra, stopping at Nkawkaw, on to Kumasi and then Tamale, upwards to Bolga, sideways to Sawla, then a return journey via Bole, Bui, Wenchi, Techiman, Sunyani, Bibiani, Tarkwa and drop off at Agona Junction.

From Agona I will take a coach to Sekondi and then ride a bullet train back to Accra. Can I vote for someone who can make this dream a reality? Is there any person out there who has the same fire in me and we can dream a big dream to realize what we have and can achieve in Ghana?

I haven’t even spoken about the rapid river ride on the Tain, or from the confluence of Bui dam all the way down to meet the Tano and then the Ankobra to the sea. All this is possible and staring us in the face, achievable with good pragmatic partnerships.

But come and listen to us, OccupyGhana, on our first anniversary at the Coconut Grove Regency on Thursday 8th October, 2pm to 5pm. We are dealing with solutions to some critical issues and it is time to gird ourselves for the next election year. That is where we know the problems start. Already, the promises to increase spending have started. Cocoa, salaries, LEAP and others are being prepped for rape. GYEEDA and SADA are already done. We were asleep.

I have advised Anas on radio this past weekend. I say set up a DeadGoat Club, members only, charge one cedi for admission and view the video, members only. Save the police injunction nonsense. Members only, they are not invited.

So what we have we done? Created a British Westminster style parliament and plonked an American powerhouse presidency over them, overriding their legislative powers because they can’t bring a bill to Parliament unless through cabinet, which means only legislation in Government’s interest will ever see the light of day, ergo Freedom of Information Bill, and now it doesn’t work.

And rather than sitting down to think through why we have immovable systems and HIPC ginger in our light soup, we are brutualising peaceful demonstrators and calling citizens of this country aggressors and arrogant contemptors. You just “uselessed” your vote.

Ghana, Aha a yε din papa. Alius atrox week advenio. Another terrible week to come!

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3 Responses to “My Useless Vote. Critical News, 4th October 2015”

  1. Kobina Hunter said

    The UK Government is elected by the people in the interest of the whole spectrum of the people. Dreams are turned into reality FOR THE PEOPLE (FTP).
    Council houses with Gas, Electricity, Water and Sewerage are built FTP.
    Buses actually TILT to let the elderly on and off. Ramps protrude to let wheel chairs and prams on and off.
    Are Governments in Africa for the People?
    I share your dreams Sydney and support ALL OF US THE PEOPLE in the effort to make them come true.
    Yes, it all starts with a dream.

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