The Electoral Commission (EC) has released the financial accounts of all political parties, marking a significant step towards transparency, probity and accountability.
The release of the statements of accounts is the first time in the 27-year history of the Fourth Republic that the financial records of political parties have been made available to the citizenry.
It followed a two-year advocacy campaign and a lawsuit filed by CitizenGhana Movement (CGM), publication of the statements had reversed decades-long trend of political parties breaching the 1992 Constitution, which guarantees the citizenry the right to information.
The Political Parties Act which mandated all political parties present their statements of accounts to the public on an annual basis, through the commission and despite the breach of the law, it previously failed to enforce the provisions, until now.
On February 9, 2018, the CGM secured an order from the Human Rights Court, Accra directing the EC to publish the statements of accounts of all political parties for the purpose of public information in accordance with the law.
It ordered the commission to perform the duties by September 1, 2018, however, it failed to meet the deadline ostensibly because of the constitutional procedures and subsequent transition going on at the time.
To prompt the action, CGM wrote to the new commission in December 2018 to remind the public body to comply with the court’s order and in response, the commission issued a notice demanding all political parties submit their statements of accounts to the commission by February 13, 2019.
Subsequently, on March 21, 2019, the commission published the statements of accounts of all registered political parties in accordance with the court’s order, the commission also prescribed a fee the movement was to pay for copies of the accounts and it paid the amount and expected to receive copies shortly.
Financial disclosures by political parties is a key public accountability mechanism making sources of political party funding discourage acceptance of funds from unsavoury individuals or organisations.
The movement is hopeful the release of the statements of accounts will mark the beginning of a new era of transparency, probity and accountability in the financing of political parties.