Since the Electoral Commission (EC) announced GHc100,000 as the filing fee for presidential aspirants and GHc10,000 for parliamentary aspirants in the upcoming elections, there have been mixed views on the political landscape.
While some political parties and actors have expressed concerns about the fees, especially that to be paid by presidential aspirants, as being exhorbitant, others also feel the fees are in the right direction.
For those who oppose the presidential filing fee for being too high, their argument is that the EC wants to gag the smaller parties. They want the EC to maintain the 2016 presidential filing fee of GHc50,000, considering the economic situation in which Ghana finds itself .
They also contend that since the EC’s activities are funded by taxpayers’ money, there is no justification for such an increase in the filing fee.
But the EC argues that it has only acted in compliance with the electoral laws, with the intention to protect the sanctity and integrity of the electoral process. It says it is acting on Regulation 8 (1)(b) of Constitutional Instrument (C.I.) 127 to ensure that all aspirants for presidential and parliamentary elections pay approved filing fees as a means of placing value on those offices they seek to occupy.
Per Regulation 8 (1b) of C.I. 127, “a candidate for presidential and parliamentary elections shall, at the time of nomination of the candidate, deposit or cause to be deposited an amount of money determined by the EC”.
Regulation 46 (1) of C.I. 127 states: “Subject to Regulation 13, a deposit made by a candidate under this regulation shall, as soon as practicable after the results of an election is declared, be:
a) returned to the candidate or the personal representative of the candidate, or
b) forfeited to the state.
While the two viewpoints — that expressed by those opposed to the high fee and the EC’s — may sound okay, we honestly believe first and foremost that any individual or political party seeking to manage affairs of state and, for that matter, manage its purse, should be resourceful enough to meet such a demand.
We believe that if the political parties and actors are transparent in their dealings, this is the time for them to demonstrate their mobilisation drive and fund-raising abilities among their membership, supporters and sympathisers to meet the funding of party activities, including paying filing fees.
It is a pain to note that some of the major political parties have even failed or refused to file their audited financials statements to the EC, something they are constitutionally mandated to do.
Moreover, it is interesting to observe that some of the political parties even fixed much higher fees for their presidential and parliamentary aspirants in their primaries.
The Daily Graphic believes that as we inch closer to the December 7, 2020 polls, the political temperature will increase, with its attendant disagreements.
However, we would need all stakeholders to make quick compromises in order to ensure the successful outcome of the polls.
We expect the EC to deepen engagement with all the primary stakeholders, especially the political parties and actors, to get their buy-in in the implementation of the electoral activities on the calendar without any hitches.
We insist that the parties and the actors, on the other hand, must also go to the table without any entrenched positions and strong sentiments. They are seeking to lead the country and manage the affairs of the state and the Daily Graphic expects them to demonstrate their commitment to the process, as well as place premium on issues and knowledge-based discussions and negotiations.
The Daily Graphic believes that the way forward in all these is to jaw-jaw and not take entrenched positions on the issue. We acknowledge the independence of the EC to manage the electoral process, hence the need for the parties and actors to dialogue more to arrive on common grounds.
We do not think it is healthy for our electoral system for brouhaha to greet the announcement of filing fees every election year. We all agree that filing fees form part of the critical bridge we must cross before anyone can contest national elections.