In the history of mankind, many diseases have continued to plague the world: from the plagues that visited the ancient Egyptian kingdom in the era of Moses to the 1918 Spanish flu, the world has continuously witnessed the havoc such outbreak of diseases and plagues brings.
For instance, the 1918 Spanish Flu claimed an estimated life of 100 million whiles infecting 500 million people which was about a third of the world’s population at the time.
At present, the world is grappling with another pandemic over its head, the novel coronavirus also known as Covid-19. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), since its outbreak in the latter part of 2019 it has infected 11,033,879 people worldwide as of July 3, 2020.
The statistics also shows that the virus has claimed 525,148 people’s lives with 6,186,741 persons recovering from the virus. It is without a shadow of doubt that Covid-19 is indeed a deadly virus which must not be toiled with.
It is against this backdrop that many argued that compiling a New Voter’s Register at a time when the virus was at rife was not the right way to go.
Some organizations and groupings such as the Inter-Party Resistance Against the Compilation of a New Voter’s Register (IPRAN) contended that such an exercise will pose a greater risk of infection and at the same time be a waste of state funds.
Subsequently, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in attempt to stop the electoral commission from compiling a new register in accordance to Constitutional Instrument (C.I 126) cited that the exercise will greatly put the health of citizens at risk and disenfranchise many Ghanaians.
After months of back and forth over whether or not the Electoral Commission (EC) was justified in its quest to compile a new voter’s register at a time when the world (Ghana inclusive) was still grappling with containing the spread of Covid-19, the issue was finally put to rest by the apex court of the land – (the Supreme Court of Ghana).
By unanimous ruling, the Supreme Court gave the EC the green light to compile the new voter’s register using C.I 126. Consequently, the EC announced that it will begin compilation of the new voter’s register starting June 30, 2020 and ending August 6, 2020 promising to strictly adhere to all Covid-19 safety guidelines at the various registration centers.
Since the commencement of the voters registration exercise, many have observed that the COVID-19 safety protocols were not being adhered to as some applicants failed to properly use their facemask and other registration centers not observing the social distancing protocols.
Bearing in mind the revised COVID-19 discharge protocols, the Health Ministry, has made allowances for asymptomatic patients to be quarantined at home as long as they have the requisite self isolation facilities. This poses a lot of worry to the Ghana Medical Association, in view of this, in a statement they vowed to hold the electoral commission and its chairperson and other commissioners responsible for any spike in the COVID-19 cases in the country.
The human race has proven on several occasions to defy laws and in some cases take actions that put the health of others in danger, hence the need to compel persons to comply with laws and health safety protocols.
There are allegations of report of people deliberately infecting people in China, Europe and the Americans. The COVID-19 is a serious pandemic and as such must be taken seriously. For instance the Prime Minister of Britain, Boris Johnson, took an initial stand that COVID did not exist hence was still in public shaking people with total disregard for the covid-19 safety protocols. He however changed his position after being admitted into the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for COVID.
Reports emerging from the US also indicated that President Donald Trump and his supporters disregard safety procedures saying that it does not exist. Ghana on the hand has not dispersed from the reckless behavior of some key government officials. A statement from parliament indicated that some Members of Parliament and staff do have COVID-19 and yet reported to work while they were expected to self isolate in accordance to the COVID-19 protocols.
It was further shocking when Hon. Carlos Kingsley Ahenkorah, now former Deputy Minister for Trade and Industry, who was confirmed to have the virus was seen in public shaking and hugging party supporters just after one week of self isolation thus violating the safety protocols. In his defense he stated that his doctors had given him safety protocols that will allow him to be seen in public.
However, the standard is a minimum two weeks even with the new discharge protocols. It is welcoming that he did the honorable thing in turning in his resignation letter and the presidency accepting it.
However, some pressure groups have argued that it is not enough that the Honorable Minister turned in his resignation thus they are calling on the New Patriotic Party to with immediate effect withdraw him as their candidate at the Tema West Constituency in the upcoming parliamentary elections.
Others have also argued that it is not prudent that Hon. Ahenkorah resigns from his position as the Deputy Minister for Trade and Industry rather; he should resign as the MP for Tema West since he was discharging duties as an MP not as the Minister for Trade.
We encourage the government to take further actions on the Honorable Member of Parliament including prosecution in accordance with Imposition and Restriction Act 2020 so as to serve as a deterrent to others who flout the safety precautionary protocols.
In conclusion, although all citizens who 18 years and above and of sound mind have the right to exercising their democratic rights to have their names in the register and vote the government and the electoral commission should also have a mandate to protect and ensure that all citizens exercise their rights in manner that do not jeopardize their health and safety of society.
Written by: Kofi George Merkel Abuah,
University Students’ Association of Ghana (USAG).