Ghana's eighth consecutive general election under the 1992 Fourth Republican Constitution is about four months away. Political parties, especially the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) have set their electoral machinery at the temperate stage.
Heating up campaigns
The parties intend to seek the mandate of Ghanaians for yet another phase of democratic milestone; let all Discerning Ghanaians drum home to the political society on the abhorrence of electoral violence. The greater majority of Ghanaians are committed to “buy peace at the price of violence”.
Discerning Ghanaians want all political party activists to understand that the price of violence is expensive in terms of loss of human lives, destruction of property, and creation of internal and external refugees, permanent emotional, psychological, spiritual trauma.
The energy spent in strategizing to cause electoral violence as well as huge funds that are invested to execute political mayhem just for one man or woman to achieve political ambition is not worth it.
“If the political parties and their sponsors spend just about 60 per cent of the total investment for foot soldiers, macho men and women, and agents for political destruction into peace building initiatives, we would attain peaceful election.
“Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners,” I Corinthians 15:33 admonishes us, therefore: “we have the power to preach peace or ignite conflict and war. The words we speak on radio, and television, what we write online, in the newspapers and other social media platforms as well as the pictures which accompany these stories set in motion reaction or inaction in our targeted audience. “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing,” I Peter 3:9.
What do we want as Ghanaians, national peace or national violence? Let’s commit to buy peace at the price of violence? Let us not be agent for destruction. Let our religious leaders call their members who are politicians to order when they go astray. Let our traditional leaders call their subjects to order when they begin to preach and incite the people. Let fathers call their wives and children to order; and let wives call their husbands and children to order.
The Rwandan Genocide
We are all aware of the abominable mass murders and blood-letting that shattered Rwandan society in 1994 when within the short period of some four months over 800,000 to one million Tutsis were massacred only because they were identified as members of that ethnic group.
The media, controlled by politicians were those that organised, orchestrated and plunged the country into that nightmare through propagating systematically hatred for Tutsis and incitement to violence and to kill them – “KILL THE COCROACHES”.
The Kenyan ethnic violence
One of the Key findings of the Kenya Human Rights report on post-election related violence was that the violence was “largely instigated by politicians throughout the campaigning period and during the violence itself via the use of incitement t hatred”.
It also found that “the mass media, the short message service in mobile phones and the internet were used to propagate hate speech and in some instances, to incites acts of violence in both pre and post-election period.”
There are undercurrents in every election. We must therefore avoid the temptation of being tagged as the one providing the ignition to set the nation ablaze, through the usage of words that have the potential of setting the country on the path of conflict.
The media as constitutionally mandated watchdogs must protect the national communication gate to ensure that information disseminated to the public are pure, devoid of hate speech with insightful words.
The basis of either conflict or peace emanated from the usage of “One word”. The media as traditional gatekeepers must desist from using or offering a platform for politicians to use that ‘one word’ which could create confusion, setting the stage for violence.
Currently, due to COVID-19, the two parties; NPP and NDC have covertly set up: Cyber Foot Soldiers; Cyber Monitors; Cyber Watch Dogs; Cyber Propagandists; and Cyber Preachers. These groups have a mandate to take control of the virtual space with a specific target.
Without doubt the two leading parties - NPP and NDC have a semblance of effective political machinery set in motion from the national to the polling station levels to use both the virtual space, traditional and non-traditional media and direct contact campaign to win Election 2020.
Political pundits predict Elections 2020 to be crucial, especially in all respects as December 7th would serve as Verdict Day for both President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo - the New Patriotic Party (NPP); and former President John Dramani Mahama - the National Democratic Congress (NDC) to face the Political Judge (Electorate) to pronounce judgement on the four- year political governance of the country – 2017 to date and 2013 to 2016 respectively.
Discerning Ghanaians are offering Political Parties the platform to defend their actions and inactions, show evidence how they could not fulfil their previous electoral promises and put forward fresh facts in their manifestoes to persuade the Judge to sentence their clients (Presidential Candidates) to another four-year jail term at (the Flag Staff House, the seat of Government).
The ground is also set for the political parties to provide evidence to persuade the Judge to incarcerate their opponents perpetually in Hell (Opposition) for four years with hard labour to learn the rudiment of good governance, tenets of democracy and adherence to constitutional order.
In other words Elections 2020 would serve as electoral barometer for determination of the fortunes of the NPP's quest to retain power for another four-year term or the NDC's bid to dislocate the ruling NPP and democratically take-over the reins of governance of the country once again.
The third option that Elections 2020 offers Ghanaians would be to test the potency of the smaller parties - Convention People's Party (CPP); People's National Convention (PNC); Progressive Peoples Party (PPP), Liberal Party of Ghana (LPG) and others readiness to change the political dynamics of the country.
Role of political watchers
Most Political Experts, whom Ghana News Agency spoke to, dismissed the potency of smaller parties in the political arena; it would be a miracle for any of the minor parties to win even a parliamentary seat. At best they will serve as Political Pressure groups to shape the fortunes of the two leading parties as well as reduce the electoral temperature with some comic respite.
Political analysts believe the minor parties are late in coming to the Electoral table to make any meaningful impact.
Analogically three groups – NPP, NDC, and the minor parties are travelling to Bolgatanga (584 kilometers) which is about 13 hours 24 minutes away from Accra (December 7th).
The NPP and NDC are using a four wheel drive (V8) and are already at Sunyani (306 kilometers) 7 hours 28 minutes away from Accra.
Unfortunately the other political parties are yet to set-off from Accra using local ‘Mummy Truck’ and yet believe they can overtake both the NPP and NDC on the way and get to Bolgatanga.
The irony of the minority political parties are that some of them are depending on both the NPP and NDC for fuel, and sometimes the driver for their local Mummy Truck yet they believe through some magical means they will overtake the NPP and NDC and win Election 2020.
The 2020 election poses a great challenge to all institutions that have significant and vital roles to play for the attainment of a free and fair poll especially as we are confronted with the new normal.
The contributions of bodies like the executive, parliament, judiciary, political parties, the media and the public are crucial for the survival of our democracy.
Electoral Administrators across the globe admit that: "No electoral management body can carry out its functions effectively and creditably without the support of other bodies".
"In fact, none of the many bodies in the country that have roles to play in the electoral process, including; the Electoral Commission can alone ensure credible elections.
But any one of them can easily mar the success of the election.
Therefore let’s all discerning Ghanaians tell the politician that the 1992 Constitution confers on us freedom from discrimination, equality of all persons, right to be treated with dignity and respect, acknowledging or common humanity; and right to personal safety – against incitement to violence and hatred.
Election 2020 therefore must not offer the grounds for abuse of these rights and set the stage for violence; we need peace at the price of conflict.
Discerning Ghanaians must reject political parties or politicians who professes electoral violence. The time to act as Discerning Ghanaians is now.