Not entirely unexpected, the matter of the Ghana national RA audit has now found its way to court. Two individuals have moved to court seeking:
…an order of interlocutory injunction restraining the respondents, whether by themselves, their servants, workmen, hirelings, agents, privies or any persons claiming under or through them, whosoever described from implementing and operationalising the Common Platform until the final determination of this suit.
The lawsuit enjoins Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications, the Ghana Revenue Authority, the National Communications Authority, along with three telecom communications companies and is based on the provisions of Act 754 (4) (a) of the constitution, which states a monitoring system may not:
…have the capabilities to actively or passively record, monitor, or tap into the content of incoming or outgoing electronic communications traffic, including voice, video or data existing discretely or on a converged platform whether local or international.
The Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications has previously come out in guarded support of the RA deal stating that it was ready to ensure the success of the Common Monitoring Platform (CMP) operated by KelniGVG, as long as concerns on subscriber privacy and network security are addressed.
Even as this suit gets underway, the government is clearly pressing ahead. Minister of Communications, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, is quoted as saying:
I am happy to announce that Vodafone and Glo are in the process of being connected as we speak. The others are expected to be connected by the 11th of June. Any operator who fails to comply will be sanctioned.
However, the pressure on this deal is not abating any time sooner, despite what the honourable minister would want folks to believe. For example, pressure group Occupy Ghana has called for an independent audit of the contract and has itemised the three concerns it has on this deal:
(1) how the Communications Service Tax is to be collected and paid to the Government,
(2) whether the deployment of the monitoring mechanism under the Contract breaches or has the potential to breach the privacy protections under both the law and the Constitution, and
(3) whether the payment of contract sums under the Contract, not by the Government (which is the party to the Contract) but, directly by the Ghana Revenue Authority (‘GRA’) and the National Communications Authority (‘NCA’) also breaches both the law and the Constitution
These are matters which are not easy to sweep under the carpet. What is difficult to tell at this time is whether the court process will make things clearer or muddy the waters further.