The Electoral Commission (EC) has issued a stern warning that political parties which fail to meet the requirements to operate under the law will have their registration struck out.
The Chairperson of the EC, Jean Mensa, who gave the warning at the beginning of a two-week nationwide audit and inspection of offices of political parties across the country last Tuesday, explained that the field visits were meant to ascertain the status of the 28 registered political parties in terms of their physical presence at the national, regional and district levels, as well as the calibre of staff they had.
She explained that the inspection tour was not to witch-hunt but rather fulfil a provision of Act 574 concerning the physical presence of the parties in two-thirds of the constituencies across the country.
Accompanying Mrs Mensa were the Deputy Commissioner of the EC in charge of Operations, Samuel Tettey; the Deputy Commissioner in charge of Corporate Services, Dr Eric Bossman Asare, and some directors of the commission.
The move by the EC is in compliance with the provisions of Section 15 of the Political Parties Act, 2000 (Act 574), which require political parties to provide particulars of national, regional, district and constituency offices and officers to the commission.
Section 15 (3) of Act 574 further gives the EC the power to cancel the registration of any political party when the party refuses to comply with Section 15, including making a statement in a matter submitted to the commission under Section 15 that is false or failing to establish or maintain a national office or establish or maintain regional offices in every region.
Mrs Mensah observed that such an exercise would allow the EC to take an informed decision on which political parties were viable to retain their registration.
"The law says that political parties which fail to meet the requirements of physical presence across the country should be struck out. We have 28 registered political parties which we have been working with and nurturing to fulfil this requirement. We will have to take off those which still do not have presence, as required by the law," she said.
She said when the field visits were done in two weeks, the commission would provide the country with updates on the exercise and the next line of action.
During an interaction between the EC and the National Executive of the Convention People’s Party (CPP), the party’s National Chairperson, Nana Akosua Frimpomaa Sarpong-Kumankumah, commended the EC leadership for being proactive in its dealings with the political parties.
She raised concerns about ongoing processes by the CPP to renew expired leases for some of its offices across the country and sought to know from the EC if that would affect the CPP’s status.
Again, she tabled a proposal for the EC to extend logistical support to the political parties to help them meet the requirements of the law.
In response to the concerns raised, the EC Chairperson said the issue about expired leases would be examined by the commission based on merit.
On the request for logistical support, Mrs Mensa said since that was the first time such an issue had been tabled before the EC, it would be examined for the appropriate action to be taken.
PPP office flooded
The planned inspection of the national office of the Progressive People's Party (PPP) was unsuccessful, as the place had been inundated with floodwaters when the EC got there.
When the inspection team got to the PPP office, located at Avenor, the national executive of the party had gathered but the premises were not conducive for the auditing to be done.
The National Chairman of the PPP, Nana Ofori Owusu, told the EC team that the premises were currently not good because of the floods, adding that the party was putting up a storey building to serve as its national office.
Mr Tettey said the team's observations at the PPP office would be included in the final report for the necessary action to be taken.
"We are here now and we have noticed that your office is flooded, so it is not possible to get in and do any auditing. This observation will be part of our final report that will be submitted for action," he said.