Former President John Dramani Mahama has said the electoral systems in Africa have improved over the years.
Speaking at the Distinguished Speaker Seminar at the Saïd Business School, Oxford University, the former president and presidential candidate for the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) said the improvement with innovations such as vote counting in-situ, biometric registers, verification machines, allowance for observation of elections by party agents, civil society and international observers, have helped in enhancing the electoral systems in Africa especially Ghana.
According to him, “Africa has come a long way from the era of steel ballot boxes and district counting centers. In past electoral systems, the citizen’s duty was to turn out to vote, the rest of the process from counting to the declaration of results was done out of sight of the electorate.”
He said: “This has improved the integrity of elections and lessened disputes. But other areas of complication have emerged. The use of IT in results transmission and the possibility of hacking have created new fears about the manipulation of results.
Examples of this can be found in the recent elections in Ghana, Kenya, and Sierra Leone.”
Using Ghana as an example he said, “during the last Presidential Election in Ghana, the Electoral Commission directed its staff to stop using the electronic result transmission system to communicate results to the tallying center because the system had been compromised.
The results had to, therefore, be tallied manually, leading to attendant tensions in the delay of the announcement of the final results.
He said: “As I speak, I am not aware that the Electoral Commission has carried out an investigation into what compromised their IT system. And even if they have, we the stakeholders, the political parties, have not been briefed on what caused the corruption of the system.
In the interest of transparency, it is important for Ghanaians to understand what happened before we go into another election.”
After leaving office, I have been involved in advocacy on democratic consolidation in Africa. This has gotten me involved in conferences dealing with African democratic and electoral systems.
The event organized in collaboration with the African Studies Centre and the Oxford Africa Business Alliance.