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ROPAA and the IMF – A Curious Intersection

The title may sound like reaching for ice cream in a fire. The author and his stakeholders are not insensitive to the turmoil in which Ghana finds itself. The unspoken essential in the moment of fear is the preservation of Ghana’s fledgling democracy. This may be as good as any time to revive the topic of the implementation of Act 699- Representation of the People Amendment Act (ROPAA). The tough times offer the opportunity to sow the seeds of prospective beneficial financial byproduct to Ghana through deliberate activities aimed at including Ghanaians Living Abroad (GLAs) in Ghana’s web.

Two or more GLAs meet, and the conversations turn to the downward trend of the cedi,
Ghana’s runaway inflation, the management of the economy, and such. The shared pain is
palpable. In frustration, they wonder when their country will permit GLAs to vote in at least
Ghana’s presidential elections as allowed by the 1992 Constitution, the 2006 Parliamentary
Act 699, and the 2017 Court Order.

Ghana’s parliament passed ROPAA, and our former President Kufuor signed Act 699 into
law in February 2006. ROPAA expanded voting rights to all GLAs away from the limited
number of Ghanaian employees at Ghana’s embassies. Sixteen years and the Electoral
Commission (EC) has not implemented ROPAA as the law entrusted it to do. The major
political parties, NPP and NDC, each is afraid that the other would use ROPAA to
disadvantage them, hence the frigid attitude of the EC on ROPAA implementation. After the
court order in 2017, GLAs had hope for the 2020 general elections; but then came COVID,
and a handy excuse for the EC. ROPAA implementation is not a priority of the EC. It is not
even among the 34 “Reforms” the EC lists on its website.

We believe that in 2020, the EC developed a Constitutional Instrument (CI). It is the
document that clarifies the modes of implementation – documents for identification,
polling stations, etc. The EC says the 2020 CI made its way to parliament. When the body
officially accepts a CI, it automatically becomes law after 21 days. To change the CI would
require two-thirds majority – not likely to happen. We, at Progressive Alliance Movement
(PAM), made requests, but the EC never gave us a copy of the CI. PAM orchestrated the
court intervention. Now, the EC must publish a new CI for the 2024 elections specifically
for ROPAA implementation. The EC must not wait until late 2024 to start drafting the CI. By
mid-2023, the 2024 CI should be in parliament. The EC should give copies of the drafts to
stakeholders and time to respond. PAM is ready to act against the EC for its failure to do its
work under the 2017 court order of mandamus to implement ROPAA.

The prospect of a $3 billion loan by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is mesmerizing
Ghana as a fail-safe mechanism. There are an estimated 3 – 4 million GLAs, not counting
their second and third generations. They bleed and cry for their homeland. GLAs remit a
reported $5 billion annually to Ghana. This is money with no interest, no due date, and
available year after year. GLAs use their positions abroad to direct major foreign direct
investments to Ghana; George Owusu (Kosmos-oil), Tetteh Quarshie (cocoa), Dr Kofi
Amoah (Western Union), Accra World Trade Center (author) come to mind. There are
more, not excluding GLAs own major direct investments.

At this time of national financial crunch, depreciating cedi, and hardship, could we discuss a
Ghana Homeland Fund?” By no means are we suggesting a condition of financial
contributions by GLAs to voting. We are underscoring that GLAs are a major asset to Ghana.
We should not only intentionally tap them for the Black Stars but also for national financial
rescue and progress. The details will be the subject of another article. Others are welcome
to contribute. How quickly could we raise an IMF-sized $3 billion, and for more times into
the future? I am curious about this purposeful intersection.

People who vote have a stake. ROPAA’s implementation is beyond politics and its
partisanship. It is about rights in a democracy. Outside interests in the USA and Europe,
who desire to see Ghana’s democracy take hold, fund Ghana’s general elections. GLAs are a
critical artery of Ghana. EC, start working on the CI now. Parliament, do not sit on the CI
when it comes back. Mr. President and all aspirants, support it.

Years ago, the author coined the expression “Ghanaians Living Abroad. (GLAs).” It
distinguishes Ghanaians who know their roots in Ghana and are living outside for economic
reasons to benefit their families and country. “Diaspora” is a painful word that applies more
to our kin in the Americas and Caribbean whose direct roots have faded. Let us maintain this
distinction for directed messaging.

For further discussion, respond to kofi.aboat@gmail.com

Source: By Kofi A. Boateng

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