WE CAN HOLD PARLIAMENTARY PRIMARIES IF WE ADOPT CERTAIN STEPS EVEN IN THIS COVID-19 PERIOD
Forgive me for my incessant mewling over matters pertaining to whether the 2020 elections should be held or not in relation to the point made by our General Secretary in passing to the effect that sitting MPs could be allowed to represent the party in the elections if COVID-19 would continue to show its militancy to us.
Incumbent MPs being allowed to represent us in the 2020 elections due to the torture we are experiencing in the hands of the coronavirus pandemic may not be the worst form of ideas to be mooted under the circumstances.
However, other points can be advanced for the consideration of all and sundry as we mull over whether to go for parliamentary primaries or not. The first option, in my considered opinion, assuming the entire Ghanaian population can converge around it, is to suspend all forms of elections and any election related activities for the rest of the year.
Some have indicated that a constitutional crisis looms large should we fail to go for elections this year. The issue is, what crisis is more dire and severe than people dying in droves due to coronavirus infections? The postponement cannot be the worse of the two scenarios.
Honing in on the parliamentary primaries of the party in an event that the EC sticks to its December 7 calendar, anything less than holding parliamentary primaries would be inimical to the growth, development and fortunes of the party. The consequential effects of such a situation gaining the upper hand can be irremediably catastrophic.
If the EC can adopt innovative ways to hold elections in this COVID-19 ravaged republic of ours, I don’t see why parliamentary primaries cannot be held. If the EC, assuming we are working with 17 million people, can generate ideas which are anti-COVID-19 pandemic to organize elections successfully, holding parliamentary primaries for not more than a million delegates should not be any uphill battle.
At worst, the party can rely on whatever mechanism the EC would deploy to conduct the general elections in its parliamentary primaries. If the EC can do this with such a huge figure, with these few numbers of ours, we can also do this.
Let me suggest one or two practical ideas we can look at. First of all, we can divide the entire country into three where the primaries can be held by weekly intervals. This will afford the NEC ample time to supervise the processes. Here, social distancing practices should be observed by using spacious areas to gather the delegates.
Moreover, if the elections would be held on the same day, we can get football parks or similar places with canopies with chairs spaced out to prevent the people sitting closer to one another while voting starts early.
Another method could be dividing delegates into three and voting on the same day. The constituencies can be zoned into three so that we will not have too many people in one place and elections going on simultaneously. Aspirants can have agents in the three centers to monitor events for them from a distance.
Another variant of the above-stated idea is to hold the elections in one place but transporting delegates to the voting centers at two or three hours intervals so that before the second group comes in, the first one would have finished voting till everyone finishes voting. There may be other ideas more practical than mine and must all be propounded to help in this discourse.
We must not lose sight of the fact threat the General Secretary’s proposition was premised on the fact that the party may not be able to hold primaries since by the time coronavirus leaves us or goes down substantially which may allow us to hold the primaries, the timeframe within which political parties must submit their lists of parliamentary candidates may have elapsed. It is against this backdrop, in my view, that the idea was mentioned.
In conclusion, we can find innovative ways to practice social distancing while we hold our parliamentary elections. This must be done, I must add, when the country is willing to embrace anything elections.
P.K. Sarpong, Whispers from the Corridors of the Thinking Place.