This intervention by the Supreme Court is intriguing

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Folks, if you have been monitoring proceedings in the matter between Dr. Zanetor Rawlings and the incumbent NDC MP for Klottey Korle (Nii Armah Ashietey), you can tell that a lot is happening to make the hearing of the case more interesting and revealing than expected.

Even though Nii Ashietey was roundly trumped at the NDC’s primaries to choose a candidate for Election 2016, he has insisted on legally frustrating Zanetor. The matter has been going on for some time now until the Supreme Court’s intervention, which is itself interesting for the new twists that it has put on it.

It is reported that the Court has “ruled that the High Court erred in law when it assumed jurisdiction over Article 94 clause 1(a) of the 1992 Constitution”.

As such, it has “suspended the case to determine whether the said constitutional provision becomes operational when a person declares his or her intention to be an MP at the primaries level or whether it is when the Electoral Commission opens nominations and the person files the relevant documents”. (See http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/Supreme-Court-stops-High-Court-from-hearing-Zanetor-case-440091).

MY COMMENTS

Certainly, the Supreme Court has added a huge complexion to the matter. If it is now telling us that the matter is “constitutional”, it means a lot. I hope the matter can be resolved in time to allow for campaigns.

I am not a lawyer nor am I an expert on such “constitutional” issues; but common sense tells me that if Zanetor wasn’t a registered voter at the time she filed to contest the primaries and consequently won, she cannot be deemed as legitimately elected (assuming that the basis of one’s eligibility to contest is the requirement to be a registered voter).

If the Court goes for the other aspect regarding the opening of registration and Zanetor’s prompt action to legitimize her quest by registering (long after she had contested illegitimately in the primaries), it will be very interesting to know why.

In truth, once she wasn’t a registered voter, it should be clear that she didn’t qualify to participate in the electoral contest, which should automatically nullify her election to contest Election 2016 on the NDC’s ticket. Or…..?

In the long, if the NDC’s own constitution favours her, what will the interpretation to be done by the Supreme Court mean? Is there a disconnect between the NDC’s constitution and the national 1992 one? If so, what were the framers of that constitution thinking at the time they were drafting the party’s constitution? And should the Supreme Court find fault with the aspect of the NDC’s constitution about Zanetor’s status that Nii Ashietey is contesting, will the NDC revise its constitution?

What is the lesson for the other political parties? (And here, I have in mind the suit that Paul Afoko and Sammy Crabbe have filed to challenge their suspension. There is a constitutional issue here too).

The long and short of it is that the Supreme Court’s intervention will help us see issues in a broader scope so the various political parties can fine-tune their constitutions to fit into the national one. Only then can there be symmetry for things to be done properly to refine our democracy. After all, if there is trouble in the political parties, whatever happens at the national level involving elections and the EC will be roped in too. Ultimately, the internal affairs of the parties have a bearing on national and local politics, which is why I welcome the Supreme Court’s intervention in the NDC’s case.

The implications of this suit by Nii Ashietey are clear and shouldn’t be missed by the NDC leaders and followers. A divided house cannot stand on its own to prevail over others. Once Nii Ashietey has dug in to go the whole hog in pursuing his agenda, it is clear that he has planted a time-bomb that is ticking off as Election 2016 approaches. He is bent on having his way, even though rejected by his own constituents. If he wins the legal battle, the NDC’s Zanetor will lose out even though Nii Ashietey cannot automatically become the bona fide candidate for the NDC.

There is a lot to do before being so. And that lot can’t be to the NDC’s good. Clearly, Nii Ashietey lost the primary because his own constituents lost hope, trust, and confidence in him. He couldn’t “deliver”. Thus, if he wins the legal battle and manages to represent the NDC, it is obvious that those who rejected him at the primary won’t turn round to give him the much-needed support to retain the constituency for the NDC. Once rejected, always rejected for Election 2016. What is worse than being torpedoed by the party’s own followers in his case?

And if he chooses to go independent, his supporting NDC members will endanger the party in his bid. If Zanetor is disqualified too and chooses to go independent, the NDC suffers, even though she can collapse herself into the NDC fold if she wins the seat.

The problem in this Klottey Korley Constituency affects the NPP too. We can tell how Philip Addison and Nii Nortey have split the party’s ranks there. What at all is there in this Klottey Korle constituency to cause this schism in both the NDC and the NPP? I don’t know. The truth, though, is that happenings there are opening up new chapters in our constitutional democratic experiment.

I shall return…

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