The flagbearer of the Progressive People’s Party (PPP), Ms Brigitte Dzogbenuku, has suggested to the Electoral Commission to review downward, the GHS100,000 filing fee which all presidential aspirants are expected to pay.
After filing her nomination on Wednesday, 7 October 2020, Ms Dzogbenuku said: “I suggested a reduction”.
“We want a lot more women”, she said, adding: “We do know that the fees are one of the ways a lot of people, not only women, are discouraged from participating”.
“I mean the fees are exorbitant, they are high and, especially for women who don’t have as much earning power but still are capable of being in leadership positions by virtue of the fact that we make up 51 per cent of this country and, indeed, are contributors to this economy, they should be part of the decision-making process, they still are cut out by some of these fees”.
“The fees themselves restrict them from participating in the electoral process and the democratic process of this country. So, a reduction in it will be a way of encouraging more women to enter the race”, the former beauty queen said.
She is not the first persons to have called for a reduction.
A few weeks ago, the Centre For Better Society Advocacy And Research Africa (CEBSAR-AFRICA) and Institute For Liberty And Policy Innovation (ILAPI-GHANA), called on the EC to, immediately, halt the implementation of the GHS100,000 filing fee for presidential hopefuls in the 2020 general elections.
Describing the fee as an “administrative scheme by the EC to deny any candidate” of their political rights to contest elections and an affront to democracy, the groups stated that the EC’s action is unconstitutional.
A statement issued by the groups on 23 September 2020 indicated that the “exorbitant” filing fee demanded by the EC, if not abolished, “will estop candidates with better ideas, policies and programmes, from putting themselves up to be voted for, and, this will be a critical dent on the proper functioning and credibility of our democracy.”
“We are also of the opinion that such exorbitant filing fees breed unhealthy competitions in our politics and could provide a fertile avenue where winning candidates may want to find ways to recoup the filing fee investment. The consequence of such practices could lead to corruption,” the statement further noted.
According to the statement, instead of demanding a “whopping” GHS 100,000 as filing fee, the EC can “increase the number of registered voters who must subscribe to the candidature of each contestant during the elections to, at least, 82,500.”
he groups explained that with these subscribers drawn from various constituencies across the country, a fairer process to assess the readiness and seriousness of anybody who wishes to be the leader of this nation will be established, thereby deepening the enviable democratic dispensation in Ghana.
Read the full statement below:
CENTRE FOR BETTER SOCIETY ADVOCACY AND RESEARCH AFRICA (CEBSAR-AFRICA) AND INSTITUTE FOR LIBERTY AND POLICY INNOVATION (ILAPI-GHANA)
23RD SEPTEMBER 2020
Electoral Commission Must Abolish the Unconscionable Presidential Candidates’ Filing Fees with Immediate Effect
Democracy should be the last thing to be left for highest bidders, and it is in this spirit that we the citizens from CEBSAR-AFRICA and ILAPI-GHANA, call on the Electoral Commission of Ghana, to immediately halt the implementation of the outrageous hundred thousand Ghana Cedis (100,000 GHC) filing fee being demanded from presidential hopefuls in the 2020 General Elections.
According to Chapter 8, Article 62 of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana, “a person shall not be qualified for election as the president of Ghana unless: (a) he/she is a citizen of Ghana by birth, (b) he/she has attained the age of forty years; and, (c) he/she is a person who is otherwise qualified to be elected a Member of Parliament, except that the disqualifications set out in paragraphs (c), (d), and (e) of clause (2) of article 94 of this Constitution shall not be removed, in respect of any such person, by a presidential pardon or by the lapse of time as provided for in clause (5) of that article.”
The constitution is clear on the requirements one must meet to lead this nation, and there should be no administrative scheme by the EC to deny any candidate of this right.
Participatory democracy or participative democracy emphasizes the broad participation of constituents in the direction and operation of political systems and that includes the right to vote and the right to be voted for. It is our firm opinion that money should not be the basis to deny any citizen of these fundamental rights.
The Electoral Commission is a public institution funded by the taxpayers’ money, and there should be no justification whatsoever for placing unnecessary financial burdens on any candidate all in the name of filing fees. We are of the strong conviction that, if this practice is not abolished, it will estop candidates with better ideas, policies and programs from putting themselves up to be voted for, and, this will be a critical dent on the proper functioning and credibility of our democracy.
We are also of the opinion that such exorbitant filing fees breed unhealthy competitions in our politics and could provide a fertile avenue where winning candidates may want to find ways to recoup the filling fee investment. The consequence of such practices could lead to corruption.
According to the 2017 Ghana Statistical Service survey on poverty and inequality, as many as 6.8 million Ghanaians representing approximately 23 per cent of the population were captured as poor. Is the EC saying that, if these people believe the policies and programs of a candidate can alleviate their predicaments, they will be denied the right to choose that candidate just because the candidate may not be able to raise a whopping hundred thousand Ghana Cedis? We hope that the presidency is not for sale in this country and that it is solely reserved for a selected few and the rich.
Freedom of choice and having a voice are fundamental pillars of Ghana’s democracy. If these pillars are taken away from the people, there will be no democracy left. “Multipartism” is the cornerstone of democracy and we should not try relegating others from participating in democratic pluralism. We call on the EC to allow the people to express their voices through the ballot box by choosing who they want to lead this nation and not how the EC wants the people to choose their leaders. We believe that monetisation of democracy weakens the peoples’ power. In the words of essayist Henry Louis Mencken, “the cure for the evils of democracy is more democracy.” The exorbitant filing fee imposed on Presidential candidates by the EC certainly is clearly not democracy.
If this exorbitant filing fee was introduced to assess the candidates’ preparedness or resourcefulness, then we think there are better ways of going about it without money being the deciding factor.
As advocates of a fair and just society, we are of the view that irrespective of one’s financial standings, everybody deserves the right to occupy the top echelon of political office, and this decision must be left to the electorates to make and not the EC.
We are, by this press release, proposing that, the EC abolish this practice of demanding filing fees from Presidential hopefuls and rather increase the number of registered voters who must subscribe to the candidature of each contestant during the elections to at least 82500. These subscribers must be drawn from various constituencies across the country. We think that this proposal has the dual benefits of establishing a fairer process to assess the readiness and seriousness of anybody who wishes to be the leader of this nation, and deepening the enviable democratic dispensation in Ghana.
Eric Owusu Darlison
Deputy Executive Director (CEBSAR-AFRICA)
0242850156 / 0506142697
Executive Director (ILAPI-GHANA)