The Constitution Review Commission has extended its Text-In campaign it launched in December 2010 to broaden national participation in the Constitution Review process.
The Text-In campaign will now close at the end of June 2011, and the cost per text has also been slashed to GHp10 from the initial GHp50.
A statement by the Commission noted that although formal submissions of proposed amendments and memoranda closed on Friday, December 31st 2010, exceptions were made for Ghanaians harnessing the text-in campaign, as well as those making submissions in Braille and submissions from Ghanaians based in the Diaspora, as consultations of these groups started far later than for all other consulted groups.
The statement further explained that since the deadline, the Commission has remained inundated with a steady stream of Ghanaians knocking on its doors wanting to make new submissions.
“As such, the Commission has decided to keep the Text-In service going, allowing Ghanaians to keep sending submissions to the CRC by text message.”
Below is the full statement by the Commission
Post-Conference Activities of the Commission and the Amended Text-In Campaign
From the 1st to the 5th of March 2011, the National Constitution Review Conference was held at the Accra International Conference Centre, under the theme “The Constitution; Our Identity”.
For the first time in the history of Ghana, 2,996 Ghanaians met under one roof over the course of 5 days to deliberate on the strengths and weaknesses of the 1992 Constitution and how to strengthen its operation.
The Conference, served as a representative national platform where summaries of some 85,000 submissions were tabled for national debate. The Conference also brought together persons with expert and experiential knowledge on the various themes and issues arising from the submissions. The Commission was assisted by 98 2facilitators and consultants, including 10 international consultants.
Twelve (12) thematic areas, 77 sub-themes and hundreds of issues were discussed. No area of Ghana’s 1992 Constitution was left untouched as representatives of the private sector; gender groups; children; persons with disability; youth groups; professional bodies and associations; government, ministries, departments and agencies; Metropolitan/Municipal/District Assemblies; civil society organizations; Parliament, the Council of State; the Judiciary and many others spent several days critically examining the operation of our Constitution. Many Ghanaians at home and abroad also participated actively in the Conference by watching it live on Ghana Television and on the internet and sending in their views by SMS messages to the short code 1992 or through the internet. The views recorded from the internet were from as far apart as the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Tunisia.
As with the Community, District, Regional and Special Consultations, the Commission recorded multi-sectoral support and vigorous participation at the Conference.
The Commission would like to thank all those who participated in the conference, especially the 2,996 representatives who attended at their own cost.
The Commission has undertaken a detailed evaluation of the Conference and has started addressing shortcomings. The Commission wishes to assure all those who testified before it that apart from the synthesis contained in the matrices tabled at the Conference, their full testimony will be the subject of active consideration by the Commission in the next few weeks.
After ascertaining the views of the people of Ghana on the operation of the 1992 Constitution and submitting them for national debate, the Commission now moves into the next phase of its mandate; articulating those views in the form of a final Report and draft Bills for possible amendments to the 1992 Constitution. The Commission intends to continue working with a select group of experts in the task ahead.
The Commission would like to remind Ghanaians that the closing date for the receipt of submissions was 31st December, 2010. The only submissions that the Commission will receive and process after that date are the following:
- Submissions in Braille, because the Braille versions of the Commission’s material was not sent out early enough;
- Submissions from Ghanaians abroad until the 30th of April, to allow for receipt of submissions by post; and
- Submissions made through the text-in campaign by sending a text from any network to the short code “1992”. The text-in submissions are automated and are very easily processed and may be sent until the 30th of June.
In its bid to continue ascertaining the views of the people of Ghana via text message, the Constitution Review Commission launched a Text-In Campaign Service in December 2010. This is the first time that a Ghanaian Public Service Institution has used Text Messaging as a means for aggregating the views of the citizenry on a matter of public importance.
By texting ‘C’ to the shortcode ‘1992’, on any of the country’s six mobile phone networks, any Ghanaian could share their thoughts on the top 25 issues distilled from the then 65,000 submissions made to the Commission.
In three months, around 20, 000 people shared their views on these issues through text messages, at a premium rate of 0.50 Ghana pesewas per text.
As previously noted, although formal submissions closed on Friday, December 31st 2010, exceptions were made for Ghanaians harnessing the text-in campaign, as well as those making submissions in Braille and submissions from Ghanaians based in the Diaspora, as consultations of these groups started far later than for all other consulted groups.
Since the deadline, the Commission has remained inundated with a steady stream of Ghanaians knocking on our door wanting to make new submissions.
As such, the Commission has decided to keep the Text-In service going, allowing Ghanaians to keep sending submissions to the CRC by text message.
Following the National Constitution Review Conference in March, the CRC is happy to announce:
i) The further extension of the Text-In Campaign until June 30, 2011.
ii) The reduction of the cost of texts from the premium rate of Gh¢ 0.50 to a rate of Gh¢ 0.10 per text following negotiations with the country’s telecom companies
iii) Division of the questions into twelve thematic areas to enable people to answer questions on specific areas of the Constitution of particular concern or interest to them (including those not covered in the Top 25 issues).
iv) The expansion of the number of top issues from 25 to 77.
The above have been necessitated by the extreme interest in the campaign, as well as through successful negotiation with the mobile phone companies for the reduction in the cost of sending a text message (to Gh 0.10) and feedback from the general public on the 25 questions in the initial Text-In Campaign.
In this new phase of the campaign, each of the twelve themes into which the Constitution has been divided will be represented by a code (to be publicized in the media).
Instead of sending ‘c’ to the 1992 shortcode (across all networks), Ghanaians will now be able to send the code of the particular thematic area they are interested in (e.g. ‘E’ for questions on the Executive, ‘P’ for questions on Parliament, etc).
Furthermore, if anyone has a submission and does not know which theme it falls under, they can simply send it without a code to the same ‘1992’ shortcode and it will be treated as an open submission.
Even though the Commission is seriously engaged in the complicated and time-consuming business of writing its Final Report and Draft Bills – due for release in August – we are consulting one last expert on the Constitution: the people of Ghana.
It is hoped that the renewed Text-In Campaign will serve as a mechanism through which the thousands of people who still contact the Commission to make input into the review process can do so cheaply and privately from their own mobile phones, further enriching the final output of the Commission.
Once again, the Commission wishes to thank all Ghanaians and Ghanaian institutions, especially the media, for their exemplary support and co-operation in this daunting task.
Prof. Albert K. Fiadjoe
(Chair, Constitution Review Commission)
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