The day of reckoning is fast approaching for registered political parties in the country as the Electoral Commission (EC) has served notice of embarking on an inspection of the offices of the political parties in all the regions and districts in the country.
The EC, by a notice signed by its Chairperson and published on page 12 of the January 17, 2019 edition of the Daily Graphic, indicated that: “Pursuant to the Political Parties Act 2000 (ACT 574), the Electoral Commission will be embarking on an inspection of the offices of political parties in the districts and constituencies across the country from the February 1 , 2019 to February 28, 2019.”
The notice went on to say all the political parties were to hold themselves in readiness for that important exercise and expressed the hope that they would co-operate with EC officials to ensure a successful operation.
Political Parties Act
The Political Parties Act 574 of 2000 spells out the conditions for the setting up and registration of political parties in the country.
On the official web page of the EC, there are 24 registered political parties in the country who are expected to do due diligence with regard to their conforming to the law that mandates their setup and operations.
But not much can be said with regard to their conformity to that law and regulation of their operations.
Though official updates on the last time the EC undertook such an exercise cannot be readily ascertained, indications are that most of the registered political parties might actually fall foul of the law.
24 registered parties
The registered political parties as recorded in the books of the EC include the Convention People’s Party (CPP), Democratic People’s Party (DPP), Democratic Freedom Party (DFP), Eagle Party (EP), Ghana Democratic Republican Party (GDRP), Great Consolidated Popular Party (GCPP), Ghana National Party (GNP), Ghana Freedom Party (GFP) and the Liberal Party of Ghana (LPG).
Others are the National Democratic Congress (NDC), New Patriotic Party (NPP), New Vision Party (NVP), People’s National Convention (PNC), Progressive People’s Party (PPP), Reformed Patriotic Democrats (RPD), United Popular Party (UPP) and the United Love Party (ULP).
The rest are the United Front Party (UFP), United Development System Party (UDSP), United Renaissance Party (URP), United Ghana Movement (UGM), Yes People’s Party (YPP), All People’s Congress (APC) and the National Democratic Party (NDP).
Evidence on the ground seems to suggest that apart from the two big parties, the NPP and the NDC, the other parties, totalling 22, might possibly face challenges in living up to that expectation unless they are able to summon some extraordinary ability to conform with the dictates of the Political Parties Act as it refers to their presence in districts and constituencies of the country within the stipulated timeframe of the EC notice.
Indications are that even the NPP and NDC may have a difficult time fulfilling that portion of the act without any infraction.
According to the Political Parties Act, every citizen of voting age has the right to form or join a political party.
Conditions for registration
Per the conditions for registration, no party will be registered unless the party has on its national executive committee one member from each region, that the party has branches in all the regions and was, in addition, organised in not less than two-thirds of the districts in each region.
In addition, there should be in each district at least one founder member of the party who is ordinarily resident in the district or is a registered voter in the district.
The act further states that within 90 days after the issue of a final certificate of registration, a political party is required to furnish the EC with details of the existence and location of its national, regional, district and constituency offices.
The act adds that, “A political party shall also within the period specified in subsection (1) of the act, submit to the commission the names, titles and addresses of its officers at the national, regional, district and constituency level and also such other level of organisation as the commission may direct and the name and address of the auditor of the political party.”
More importantly, the act stipulates that where a political party refuses or neglects to comply with the act and has refused, neglected or failed to establish or maintain a national office or to establish or maintain a regional office in every region, as well as district offices, the EC has the right to cancel the registration of that political party.