Armed Political Vigilantism and Monetization of politics in Ghana have come up as big threats to Ghana’s nascent but stable democracy, which is considered as a role model for other countries in the West African sub-region and Africa as a whole.
These threats which have recently become very visible in the West African country’s politics, have become subjects of great concern for political watchers and governance institutions in the country, who point to a very dire situation for the country’s democracy as the 2020 general elections approach.
This issue was brought to the discussion table when the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs held a day’s seminar at the Alisa Hotel in Accra to discuss the role of Independent Governance Institutions of State such as the Electoral Commission (EC), the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), and the National Media Commission (NMC) in the upcoming general elections.
The Executive Director of the Institute of Democratic Governance (IDEG), Dr. Emmanuel Akwetey, observed in his submission that the increasing trend of weaponized vigilantism in the country poses serious threats to the upcoming democratic elections.
The Head of the Civil Society Organization in democratic governance who was speaking at the` day’s programme organized by the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs under the theme: “Independent Governance Institutions and the 2020 Elections in Ghana: Some Reflections”, was concerned about how the country’s elections have come under increasing threat.
The violent clash witnessed between political vigilantes belonging to the two main political parties in the country at the last by-election held at the Ayawaso West Wuogon constituency is a particular case in point. In that incident, there were footages of armed vigilantes believed to be associated with the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP), caught up in a cross fire with other vigilante groups and party activists associated with the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC).
According to Dr. Akwetey, the increasing threat to the country’s democratic development through the electoral process which started with monetization in 2004, has gotten worse with electoral violence which may not augur well for the country that is considered a benchmark of democracy in the West African sub region.
“As we go on to look at this, we also know that electoral violence has been escalating. Since 2008, it’s gotten worse and it’s metamorphosed into what we now call ‘weaponized’ vigilantism. Vigilantism is not bad in itself, but when you weaponize it or what we call armed and so on, then we are in trouble. This is one of the democracies which is the hope of the AU and ECOWAS. They think if we go under, if anything happens here, probably it is going to reverberate all over the continent,” he observed.
On the other hand, monetization of the political system is getting worse. The recently held Parliamentary Primaries of the ruling NPP revealed how the voting pattern of delegates who decided on the Parliamentary candidates to represent the party in the upcoming elections was heavily induced by money.
Money and other electronic appliances such as television sets and refrigerators among others played a major role in the election and re-election of the Parliamentary candidates which resulted to over 40 sitting Members of Parliament of the ruling party losing their slots to new aspirants.
Similar scenarios played out during the presidential and the parliamentary primaries of the opposition NDC last year even though on a minor scale where there were clear cases of vote buying and those with deeper pockets just carrying the day and making total nonsense of the democratic system.
“General elections are the only time when you see human rights enjoyed in its comprehensiveness, but this idea has come under increasing threats over the years. You know, in 2004 it started with monetization, now monetization has gone out of the roof. It has been discussed a lot since last Saturday during the NPP elections. But also previously in February 2019 when NDC had its elections,” said Mr. Emmanuel Akwetey.
By Clement Akoloh || PNAfrica