The Senior Staff Association of the Electoral Commission is beside itself with sorrow over a myriad of issues militating against its work, including the body’s failure to pay service providers for the 2020 general elections.
The association also talked about delayed payments of administrative releases, outstanding bills for logistics, and the drastic reduction of resources for operational activities.
In a letter to the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission on February 2, the Association said it was compelled to hold a meeting on January 26 after receiving “numerous distress calls and messages” from members, especially regional directors, deputy regional directors, and district electoral officers, on the issues raised.
The letter, signed by over 20 executive members from across the country, categorizes their concerns into six categories:
1. Delay in the payment of Administrative Releases for the last two quarters of 2022.
2. Unprecedented delay in the payment for logistics and other services (canopies, tables, chairs, generators and boat) hired for the 2020 Voter Registration exercise.
3. Delay in the payment of allowances for Commissioners for Oaths engaged for the 2020 Voter Transfer Exercise.
4. Drastic reduction in the allocation of resources for operational activities of the Commission since the 2018 Referendum to date.
5. Constant Pre-financing of operational and administrative activities of the Commission
6. Outstanding payments for some temporary Officials engaged for DLE 2019 and 2020 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections.
The letter was copied to the Chief of Staff at the Office of the President, Speaker of Parliament, Minister of National Security, General Secretary P.S.W.0 of TUC, and Chairman, Divisional Union of PSWU, EC.
Expatiating on the administrative lapses, the Association said due to the inability of EC to make payments for utility bills like water and electricity, some offices of the Commission have been disconnected.
Aside from officials being pestered by vendors, some District Electoral Officers have been sued by vendors in attempts to retrieve their monies.
It feared if care is not taken, District Electoral Officers would not be able to engage the services of vendors for subsequent exercise.
It, therefore, warned that if the Commission fails to settle all outstanding administrative releases in full by the 15th of February, 2023, it will employ legitimate and permissible tools to get their demand met.
Find excerpts of their letter below:
A. DELAY IN PAYMENT OF ADMINISTRATIVE RELEASES FOR TWO QUARTERS FOR THE YEAR 2022 (SIX MONTHS)
i. Delay in the administrative releases for fuel, accountable imprest and inability to service and maintain official vehicles.
ii. Payment of unrealistic rates of fuel for official vehicles
iii. Current economic conditions make it impossible for Regional Directors, Deputy Regional Directors and District Electoral Officers to Pre-finance fuel for official vehicles and undertake routine servicing and maintenance
iv. Inability to make payments for utilities (water and electricity) for the Offices
v. Disconnection of some offices of the Commission due to non-payment of utility bills
B. DELAY IN THE PAYMENT OF OUTSTANDING BILLS
i. Non-payments for logistics (canopies, tables, chairs, boats, generators, etc.) used for the 2020 voter registration exercise, undertaken during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic
ii. Logistics needed for the exercise were hired, based on quotas, rates and operational, instructions from the Commission, amidst ‘strong warnings’ of sanctions for the failure to adhere
iii. Payment of only 20% of the total amount submitted for logistics, almost three (3) years after the exercise, which ended successfully for officers to receive commendations from the Commission for a good job done —the registers used for the 2020 elections are in debt
iv. District Electoral Officers are pestered on daily bases with incessant calls from vendors to redeem their debts
v. Some Vendors have sued some District Electoral Officers in the law courts and CHRA. I in attempts to retrieve their monies because Commission is unable to fulfill financial obligations
vi. District Electoral Officers are being verbally abused and even threatened on daily bases for non-payment of bills, making them live in fear
vii. District Electoral Officers have lost all the respect, dignity, goodwill and some favour that earlier existed in their districts because the Commission has been unable to honour its part of the agreement.
viii. District Electoral Officers are now having issues with their families and friends from whom they borrowed to offset some of the bills due to frustration.
ix. District Electoral Officers believe that the Commission thinks the vendors were not truly engaged, hence the commission’s refusal to pay them.
C. DELAY IN PAYMENT OF COMMISSIONERS FOR OATHS ENGAGED FOR THE 2020 TRANSFER OF VOTERS
i. District Electoral Officers were instructed through their Regional Directors to engage the services of Commissioners for Oaths during transfer of voters in the year 2020, and have not been paid allowances after the whole exercise
ii. The Commissioners for Oaths keep harassing District Electoral Officers because they
haven’t received their allowance yet.
D. DRASTIC REDUCTION IN THE RESOURCES ALLOCATED FOR OPERATIONAL ACTIVITIES BY THE COMMISSION
ii. Fuel for recruitment of officials, organisation of grassroots, training of officials, collection, distribution and retrieval of electoral materials from the regional offices to the district offices to the field has been reduced drastically since 2018
iii. Daily subsistence allowances (D5A) for staff has also seen a reduction per the number of days stipulated for various electoral activities.
iv. Resources for hiring of training venue for Training of Trainers (TOT) and grassroots training has been reduced drastically, making the organisation of the training programmes extremely difficult.
E. After the payment of officials for the 2019 District Level Elections (DLE) and the 2020 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections, some officials did not receive their allowances due to errors in their bank account details. The leadership of the SSA has made several appeals to Management to see to it that these officials are paid their allowances. However, it appears that the situation has not seen any change.
We wish to make a final appeal to Management to address this issue timely so that we can continue to enjoy the support, loyalty and cooperation of our temporary officials during future exercises.
In view of the above, the National Council, the second highest decision-making body of the SSA and the mouthpiece for Senior Staff Members at the various regions has resolved to the following:
1. Commissions’ Inability to settle all outstanding administrative releases in full by the 15th of February 2023 will cause the following:
a. Hanging of red flags at all offices of the Commission from 16th February 2023 to show our protest.
b. Officers would be unable to perform administrative and operational functions that require any financial commitments.
c. The National Council of the Association may employ other legitimate and permissible tools under the Labour Laws of Ghana to press on home our demands after hanging of the red flags.
2. All arrears owned to vendors should be paid by Wednesday 1st March 2023, to enable District Electoral Officers have the peace of mind to live and work in their districts. In the event that the commission fails to make payments,
a. All calls from vendors will be directed to the Commission.
b. Vendors will be directed to the Head Office to claim their monies
c. District Electoral Officers would be unable to engage the services of vendors for subsequent exercise
3. Resources for operational and administrative activities should be restored to their previous levels; rates and levels should be determined and communicated to officers before the commencement of upcoming activities.
4. Officers of the Commission would NOT pre-finance any activities under any circumstance.
5. Management should liaise with the Government as a matter of urgency to implement the recommendations made on conditions of service of the staff of the Electoral Commission by the Twenty (20)- member fact finding Parliamentary Adhoc Committee set up by Parliament on Friday,28th January 2011.
6. Management should also endeavour to address all these pertinent issues in a timely manner for industrial peace and harmony to prevail, considering the fact that this year is an Election year.