On Thursday, May 7, 2020, at a press conference organized by the Minority Caucus of Parliament, Haruna Iddrisu, the Minority Leader, claimed that the Electoral Commission (EC) of Ghana has received personal protective equipment (PPEs) from the government to aid them (EC) in compiling a new voters’ register in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, it is absolutely troubling and shocking that in the face of such a pandemic, our Government chooses to supply PPEs to officials of the Electoral Commission when doctors, nurses and other frontline health care workers are crying for PPEs,” Mr. Iddrisu said at the Press Conference.
The EC denied the Minority Leader’s claim in a statement issued on Monday, May 11, 2020, stating that it was worrying the minority leader would make such a claim without proof.
“The Commission has not stated anywhere that it has received personal protective equipment (PPE) from the government as stated by the Minority Leader during the press conference. For the avoidance of doubt, the Commission has not received any PPE from the government. The Commission finds it troubling that the leader of the Minority party in Parliament will put out information of this nature without substantiating its authenticity,” the EC said in the statement.
Following the EC’s statement, Mr. Haruna Iddrisu, the Minority Leader, also issued a statement on Wednesday, May 13 affirming his claim that indeed the Director of Electoral Service of the EC, Dr. Serebour Quaicoe, was the one who confirmed the EC received the PPEs from government.
“For the record, I did indicate at the said Press Conference that I was making reference to a statement made by Dr. Serebuor Quaicoe, Director of Electoral Services of the Electoral Commission. Dr. Serebuor Quaicoe had indicated on Joy FM’s current affairs programme, Newsfile on Saturday, 18th April 2020 that the EC had received enough PPEs from Government. Unfortunately, Dr. Serebuor had not come out to deny the assertion,” Mr. Iddrisu said in the statement.
The statements and counter statements released by the EC and the Minority Leader have generated debates in the media and the public sphere, leaving many in doubt what the facts of the matter are.
Fact-check Ghana has verified the claims following the public debate and concludes that the Minority Leader’s claim that Dr. Serebour Quaicoe confirmed the EC receiving PPEs from government is completely false.
The News File programme on April 18, 2020 had, as part of the topics for show, discussions on the theme: “EC Talks New Voters’ Roll Despite Covid-19: What if the Pandemic Disrupts Dec. 7”. The programme hosted Dr. Serebour Quaicoe, Director of Electoral Service of the EC, on the phone who talked about the EC’s plan of registering voters.
While Dr. Quaicoe spoke about the EC using PPEs when necessary, he did not mention anywhere in the interview that the electoral body has received the PPEs from the government of Ghana.
In responding to a question from Samson Lardy Anyenini, the host of the show, on whether the EC is not certain on conducting the registration process, this is what the Dr. Quaicoe said concerning the PPEs (transcript below):
Anyenini: “Did I hear you suggest that you are not certain that you intend to do this process?”
Quaicoe: Well, what I wanted to say is that our main focus is that if the pandemic gives us the opportunity; because as I said we have been talking to health experts and the other stakeholders. If in two months’ time it goes down, that we all agree it’s okay or it’s safe for us, we can go ahead.
In view of that we are procuring a lot of PPEs and the rest so that if it subsides and we all agree that it has subsided, we have to buy a lot of PPEs for our staff. We will do the sanitation; you know, if you…four days ago South Korea had an election and if you monitored it, they used a lot of spacing and whatever. What we are saying is that for now if…[Crosstalk]
Anyenini: There are countries that have postponed their elections in the lockdown…[Crosstalk]
Quaicoe: Yes, that’s why I am saying if…[Crosstalk]
Anyenini: Even in Africa so …[Crosstalk]
Quaicoe: So if it subsides. The electoral commission is not taking decisions in isolation. We are in consultation with health experts and the rest. So we will not take a decision when we have not been advised to do so.
Dr. Quaicoe was hosted on the NewsFile show for about an hour. Below is the specific section where he talked about PPEs.
Video credit: Joy News Channel on YouTube