Politics of Saturday, 7 March 2015
The Savannah Women Empowerment Group Ghana, (SWEGG) has demanded an unqualified apology from the Electoral Commission over the Supreme Court’s annulment of the District Assembly elections.
As a civil society organization championing women’s rights in Northern Ghana, SWEGG is convinced that the Supreme Court’s ruling amounted to the EC’s gross negligence.
The group has therefore asked the Electoral Commission to within six weeks fix a new date for filing of nominations leading to the conduct of the District Assembly elections.
Its Chairperson, Hajia Zaratu Abdul Rahaman at a news conference in Tamale implied that the cancellation of the local elections could affect the few female who earlier joined the race.
“SWEGG is very worried about the effect of this development on the already abysmal representation of women in local governance: we already have fears that less women are standing for this year’s district assembly elections in some parts of the country and we are worried that this postponement may reduce the numbers further and ultimately have a negative impact on the representation of women in local governance.”
“To mitigate these threats to the representation of women in the assemblies, we call on the Electoral Commission and Parliament to work quickly to finalize processes leading to filing of nominations and elections: we are sure this will minimize the need for aspirants to reorganize their campaigns,” she stated. Hajia Zaratu Abdul Rahaman appealed to government to adequately resource the Electoral Commission to solve the problem.
“We call on government to release the needed funds and support the processes for a quick resolution of the challenge.”
She further underscored the need for government to appoint 50% women into the assemblies. “We appeal to the ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection and the President to ensure that 50% of appointees into the assemblies are women in accordance with the numerous affirmative policies on gender equality such as CEDAW, 1998 cabinet directive and the Beijing platform.”
She commended FOSDA and other Civil Society Organizations for their unflinching support and pleaded with them not to be discouraged by the Supreme Court’s decision.
“We are indebted to civil society organizations such as FOSDA for their support and we therefore call on them not to renege on their effort to support these women towards the elections.”
SWEGG’s Secretary, Hajia Adishetu Salifu maintained that the EC should be blamed for the Supreme Court’s decision.
“We are disappointed about the behavior of the EC because we are really surprised why such a thing should happen: they know that they have legal team and why the mistake. So we want to know, we want to hear when and how they are coming out and it should be immediate.”
SWEGG’s vice Chair, Azara Mahamadu demystified the erroneous impression that NGOs have been given cash to aspiring assembly women to campaign.
“NGOs don’t give anybody cash to do any other thing, we do it on our own and keeping the house and having extra money to do all these things is not easy but because of the encouragement they give us we try to come out.”
She bemoaned, “If EC does not take time many of us will withdraw from the race.” Nonetheless, Azara Mahamadu who is a member of the Tolon District Assembly thanked the NGOs and other Civil Society Organizations for their continuous support. Frustrated Saaka Zeinab who joined the race at the Kawurpe electoral area seat in the Bole District subscribed to assertions that the EC caused financial loss to the state for which reason the headship must be penalized.
According to her, she spent so much on her campaigns and suggested that the EC should reimburse especially all the disillusioned women who were in the contest. Executive Director of the Foundation for Security and Development in Africa, Afi Yakubu whose organization has over the years been supportive to women assembly aspirants described the phenomenon as a distortion of the calendar of women who developed interest in the elections.
She opined that the Supreme Court’s decision could compromise on the constitutional mandate of equal representation in decision making at the local and national governance systems.
“For this sudden decision from the Supreme Court we think that our government is letting us down and it is compromising on our constitutional mandate to ensure equal participation of all citizens in decision making.”
“We have realized that for development to be accelerated we have to hammer on inclusive decision making and so we have over the years encouraged women to also come out especially at the community and grassroot level to take part in decision making and it has taken a lot of efforts and resources,” Afi Yakubu revealed.
She implied that carrying out the elections later could lead to voter apathy.