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The exegesis of electoral malpractices and the truculent conflicts - Part 1

Osei EczCharlotte Osei, Chairperson of the Electoral Commission of Ghana

Thu, 9 Jun 2016 Source: Badu, K

In the past, electoral tensions before, during and after elections had culminated in conflicts in countries such as Ivory Coast, Kenya and Zimbabwe.

In actual fact, the conflicts in those countries did not happen overnight; for the perpetrators started the process gradually. They wanted to change the outcome of the elections, hence, resorting to violence, before and during the elections.

We are therefore obliged to remind the lunatic fringe of politicians and their apple-polishers that the fact that they are seeking power, or are aiming to cling onto power, does not give them an audacity to engage in electoral violence, before, during and after the 2016 general elections.

There is nothing wrong to be patriotic. Yet, patriotism is not by indulging in Machiavellianism.

We should not also lose sight of the fact that the widespread violence- following relatively orderly balloting in elections in Kenya on 27 December 2007, and in Zimbabwe, on 29 March 2008-accentuate the significance of understanding the electoral tension before, during and after elections.

As a matter of fact, Ghana, your country, my country, must not and cannot go that way!

The fact of the matter is electoral violence before and during elections threatens the individual's right to vote, which is valued both as an opportunity to affect the outcome of specific elections.

All the same, many electorates are unperturbed by threats because of the enhanced sense of personal well being derived from the "feeling of being involved and having political influence" and "inclusion, identity, and self-determination.

Nevertheless, it is also true that the experience of attempted intimidation before and during elections deters some potential voters from exercising their democratic rights-both in the near and long term (Hickman 2011).

For the thought of preventing eligible voters from exercising their democratic rights is criminal, and ought to be condemned with no uncertain terms; for every eligible voter must feel free to exercise his/her democratic right without any interference from any quarters.

By and large, it has been well documented that inter and intra ethnic tensions before, during and after elections often cause conflicts (Hickman 2011). Typical examples are Kenya 2007 and Zimbabwe 2008 elections respectively.

For example, in his 2011 meta-analytic studies, Hickman recounts that the primordial political cleavage in Kenya maps membership in three ethnic blocs—“Kikuyu/Embu/Mem, Kalenjin/Maasai/Turkana/ Samburu, and Luo”; “none of which comprises a majority of the national population”.

On the other hand, Hickman observes that political divisions in Zimbabwe were once inter-ethnic, mapping membership in the two major ethnic groups: “the majority Shona and the minority Ndebele”.

However, the most prominent contemporary political division in Zimbabwe is clearly “intra-ethnic rather than inter-ethnic: among the Shona”.

More specifically, where the post-election violence that is the focus of this was largely inter-ethnic in Kenya, it was intra-ethnic in Zimbabwe. In Kenya the violence was centered around two regions: “the Rift Valley and Nairobi”.

In Zimbabwe, the violence was concentrated in the “provinces of Mashonaland, in the centre and east of the country, rather than in Matabeleland, in the west of the country”.

References:

Hickman, J 2011, EXPLAINING POST-ELECTION VIOLENCE IN KENYA AND ZIMBABWE, Journal Of Third World Studies, 28, 1, pp. 29-46.

JOTIA, A 2011, Educating for Democratic Engagement in Botswana's Democracy: Challenges of Promoting Democratic Education, Journal Of Social Development In Africa, 26, 1, pp. 135-160.

Seirlis, J 2011, Laughing all the way to freedom?: Contemporary stand-up comedy and democracy in South Africa, Humour: International Journal Of Humour Research, 24, 4, pp. 513-530.

Columnist: Badu, K