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Universal suffrage cure for ‘cash for votes’ — Dr Kobby Mensah

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Dr Kobby Mensah

A political marketing strategist with the University of Ghana Business School, Dr Kobby Mensah, has urged political parties to adopt universal suffrage as a means of curbing ‘cash for votes’ in internal polls.
He argued that it would be much more difficult for candidates in internal party elections to buy their way through if the electoral college was expanded to include all registered members of the party and not just delegates.

‘Moneycracy’

In an interview with the Daily Graphic, Dr Mensah said ‘moneycracy’, which had characterised party primaries for years, was a threat to the gains the country had made through democracy.

He, therefore, called on the Electoral Commission (EC) and security services such as the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) to probe all reports of votes being exchanged in return for cash and sanction culprits.

“It is not acceptable for a democracy to experience such a high level of payments,” Dr Mensah said.

“Obviously, if you have to be paid for your vote, I don’t think that from the perspective of the constitution it is legal. Even if it is not criminal, we should have some sanctions against politicians who are seen and have confirmed paying such money for votes. At least, they could be banned from participating in future polls,” he stressed.

Money launderers

According to Dr Mensah, if the syndrome was not checked, “we would be selling this country to money launderers or criminal cartels. If someone has that amount of money, he can actually take control of this country by sponsoring candidates”.

He said the financial resources involved in undertaking the practice of vote buying was an antecedent for corruption and could affect the decisions of elected politicians.

Factionalism

Dr Mensah also warned against the dangers posed by rising incidents of factionalism within political parties.

He said factionalism had been occasioned by a lack of trust in internal party polls, with concerns over the compilation of delegates’ rosters.

“The factions come about when politicians who will be contesting at the national level safeguard their interests by getting people into roles that would favour them. People don’t trust the process governing internal party elections, so they take matters into their own hands to ensure that the process is fair, just and produces credible results,” he added.

Dr Mensah said factionalism did not benefit anybody but displayed to the general public that a party was not united.

He explained that when that happened, members of a losing faction also stayed away from the polls, stressing that factions existed but proper steps must be taken to rein them in, especially after primaries.

Mechanisms

Dr Mensah urged the EC and the political parties to devise mechanisms to ensure that the process was fair to all.

“The EC has a role to play, otherwise we are going to have a continuous decrease in the quality of the electoral process and it will affect our national elections,” he stated.

He explained that anytime there were elections someone would go to court or someone would step onto the streets because “they feel the process hasn’t been credible.”

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