Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), the local chapter of Transparency International, on Thursday raised the alarm about political corruption, saying Ghana cannot allow political corruption to destroy the fledgling democracy, especially the degree and pervasiveness that it assumed during the limited registration exercise.
It said it had followed, with trepidation and worry, the conduct of party congresses which elected party flag bearers and parliamentary candidates as well as the recent voter registration exercise.
In a statement signed by Mr Vitus Azeem, Executive Secretary of GII, it said in the just-ended voters' registration exercise, some political parties were allegedly bussing potential voters from neighbouring countries and enticing minors to register.
"In many cases, these minors were allegedly allowed to register with impunity while other citizens with names that looked unfamiliar in certain areas were prevented from registering," it said.
GII said some registered voters were also allegedly registering again or even registering more than once this time while some party chairpersons were alleged to be registering voters from their houses with the connivance of some unscrupulous electoral officials.
It said there were cases of violence in a few areas where some party officials and supporters tried to prevent the alleged malpractices while the Electoral Commission officials appeared helpless.
"GII condemns these practices in no uncertain terms as they are not conducive to the growth of our fledgling democracy.
" It said the alleged electoral malpractices were not the prerogative of any one political party, but the two leading parties were largely blamed for the occurrences and their presidential candidates were silent on the accusations and counter accusations that went on.
GII said the worrying aspect of these allegations was that some security agencies were said to be compromising their neutrality and/or turning a blind eye to some of these malpractices while even some electoral officers were suspected of being involved in the malpractices.
It said it was concerned about these allegations because they bordered on political corruption and abuse of power, where political parties and candidates were using money, power and influence to tilt the political scale in their favour in expectation of power, potential riches and other benefits.
GII said attempts to bloat the voters' register amounted to designing a strategy to possibly rig the elections by some political parties and candidates.
"Registration of minors would not only ensure that more Ghanaians vote for a particular party or candidate but would also cover up attempts to inflate elections results.
"Allegations of ballots exceeding numbers of registered voters have been made in the past.
Thus, registering minors and double registration would cover up this means of rigging.
One cannot even rule out the possibility of devising a means of cleaning the indelible ink to enable people vote more than once in the elections.
"The allegations of violations and alleged intimidation of perceived opposition supporters and the media as well as patriotic citizens who try to check some malpractices are dangerous and must be condemned by all.
" GII reminded the public that severe political corruption and election fraud, including the use of bloated voters' register, could generate intense pre- and post-election conflicts that could and had even degenerated into violence and civil war in some countries in recent times.
"We cannot, therefore, rule out civil strife in Ghana.
If it has happened elsewhere, why do we think Ghana is different? "Moreover, electoral corruption can corrode the legitimacy of the election/democratic process, of the political system at large, and even that of the party or government perceived to have won its victory through foul play.
" GII asked the EC to learn from what had happened during the just-ended registration exercise and plan better for the December 2008 elections.
It said some parties were likely to take the law into their own hands and try to prevent so-called unqualified voters from voting, adding that the use of "macho men" must be seriously addressed.
Swift action must be taken against election officials found wanting in their duties, it said, adding that the Police, other security personnel and the general public must be well schooled as to what was expected of them on the day of the elections.
It urged Inspector General of Police to instruct his men and women in uniform to behave professionally in the impending elections and do what is expected of them.
"But most important of all, all eligible voters must not only be honest but also vigilant to ensure that no cheating is allowed to take place," GII said.