Checking violence in local politics imperative

The nation last month prosecuted one of the important schedules towards the December 7 general election, with the compilation of new names onto the voters’ register via the limited voter registration exercise.


While it marked one big step forward in Ghana’s developing democratic process, the general atmosphere surrounding the conclusion of the exercise appears calmer and reassures the country of a better systems outcome towards a peaceful election in December.

There are loud reminders of patches of naughty and thorny issues during the process, namely the frustrating malfunctioning of the biometric system on the first two days, disputed computation of figures by the Electoral Commission (EC), reported cases of fraud, including the use of a particular Ghana Card to register a number of prospective voters, alleged registration of minors, alleged gerrymandering and concerns that the guarantor system must have been abused, among others.

There were also, as usual, cases of violence even in the compilation of names onto the voters’ register, serving as a critical reminder of the stakes and the attendant extremes that sometimes characterise local national polls.

Indeed, while violence, or the threat of it, endangered the registration process in some areas and the peace of relevant communities, records of actual violence in the Asutifi South Constituency in the Ahafo Region, for instance, were the unfortunate proof of the threat that lurks dangerously around Ghanaian politics.

Reports of the stabbing of one person in Kasoa in the Central Region last weekend following a violent confrontation between some supporters of the National Democratic Congress and the New Patriotic Party leave much to be desired.

The appalling scenes of the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election in the Greater Accra Region in 2018 are still too fresh in our minds to entertain a re-cast of the maiming of citizens. If that incident triggered the national call to end party-sponsored political thuggery, traces of the act are yet to be fully exorcised from the local political scene.

It is for this reason that the identification of flashpoints or hotspots of violence is a critical step in the effort to quell the menace of violence. It is for the same reason that the security agencies, particularly the police, need to trigger all of their intelligence arsenal in a proactive manner to tackle any potential case of violence that could mar the December elections.

Every life and limb are important national resources that should not be wasted or allowed to become a burden on society. Violence has often left such indelible marks of pain and sorrow on the minds of society, and questioned the sense of responsibility of the collective society.

While deviants exist everywhere, advanced societies have shown the correlation between peaceful and orderly systems and development. Peaceful and orderly systems are themselves products of a trustworthy environment, and a trustworthy environment is built by all stakeholders.

In the specific case of the Ghanaian political environment, a trustworthy system requires every effort to tame the elements of violence on an even scale, and not to pick and choose the victims of prosecution on the basis of party colours or the social standing of personalities.

If some hotspots have gained notoriety for violence, it could well be because the system has conveniently ignored the actions of some actors or their sponsors. In many such cases, the tendency to mobilise in order to counter the opponent is viewed as the solution to neutralise the strength of the other side.

While the police and other security agencies are expected to provide a fair treatment to all players in the political field, it is equally incumbent on especially the political parties to offer to help remove violence from national politics. If politics is, indeed, about finding alternate paths to development, how does violence help to achieve that goal?

Similarly, all other stakeholders, including the EC, are expected to act in ways that engender confidence in the electoral system. It is heartwarming to state that the recent engagements between the EC and the political parties, including the EC yielding to the advice of the political parties by allowing the application of the guarantor system in the just-ended registration exercise, showed an improved relationship.

The killing of eight people, including minors, in Techiman South in the Bono East Region during the 2020 general election should not be repeated.

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