Whether in government or in opposition, political parties are known to form and use vigilante groups which act on their behalf. These vigilante groups often use violent protests and property destruction to target opposition groups public officials, and state properties.
In Ghana, some of these vigilante groups are used to provide security for opposition political parties, as a result of their lack of trust in the state’s police institution. The party in government also uses the vigilante groups to provide internal security during activities of the party.
Political vigilantism isn’t a new feature of Ghanaian politics. The Convention People’s Party, led by Kwame Nkrumah, and the National Liberation Movement were engaged in fierce political struggles over whether Ghana should be a federal or unitary state. The struggle involved violent vigilante activities by elements on both sides.
Since the return to constitutional governance in 1992, the country has gone through seven successful presidential and parliamentary elections. Ghana has become the cynosure of all eyes on the African Continent, as a result of her democratic credentials.
The use of vigilante groups to perpetuate violence, especially during elections, was gradually becoming a common feature in Ghana’s politics. Examples of such political vigilantism occurred in Talensi, Atiwa and Chereponi among other areas.
However, following the violence that disrupted the Ayawaso West Wuogon Constituency by-election in January 2019, the political vigilantism dialogue was instituted by the National Peace Council, under the direction by President Akufo-Addo.
Despite earlier disagreements, the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) and opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) committed to the dialogue and indicated their preparedness to end the menace.
The dialogue was meant to focus on examining the draft roadmap and code of conduct prepared by the Technical Committee, as part of steps to tackle the menace.
The Chronicle was, therefore, disappointed when the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) refused to sign the final roadmap and code of conduct on the eradication of political vigilantism in the country.
Signing the document for the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP), its General Secretary, John Boadu, said the timing was right and with a law banning the activities of political vigilantism, the document will serve as a good reference point for them. He reiterated the point that his party has no reservations about the document.
It is in the light of the above that The Chronicle requests the NDC to come to the table with an open heart and trust that the final roadmap is in the interest of the nation. Political vigilantism is obviously not the way to go in our democratic dispensation, and the earlier we nip this canker in the bud, the better it will be for us all.
To borrow a quote from Arthur Kobina Kennedy: “Good men in good times should not set bad examples for bad men in bad times. Ghanaians expect and deserve better. Listen to the democratic yearnings of Ghanaians and make Ghana safe for our democracy.”
On 7th December 2020, Ghanaians will want to witness incident-free elections, and the first step should start with strict adherence to the roadmap.