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Goosie Tanoh: The 2020 elections were being a turning level – but towards what?


The 2020 elections have been historic in a number of techniques.  They crystalised quite a few developments that have been establishing in our overall body politic for decades now and which will be decisive for the future of the 4th Republican experiment.

In this series of limited posts, I would like to search at some of these. 

I would like to look at for case in point why, for the very first time in our historical past, Ghanaian voters have provided manage of the executive and legislative branches of federal government to various political functions and what that will indicate for our foreseeable future.

I would like to search at the Parties’ overall performance in the election and its aftermath – e.g., mass avenue protests and their area in our democratic journey. 

I would like to look at the functionality of several condition institutions and companies in the carry out of the elections. 

For instance, what is the significance of the EC’s attempt to deny 20,000 registered voters the suitable to elect a agent to Parliament in Hohoe North? 

How could the EC be so slovenly in its computation and declaration of presidential success primary to some observers questioning the EC and its Chairperson’s competence, and however,  the integrity of the effects announced?

How could it be so blatantly opaque and unaccountable in its dealings with the political functions and the public foremost to an unprecedented amount of authorized worries?  

In this to start with piece, I want to discuss political violence commonly and as we knowledgeable it in the 2020 elections. I am significantly worried about the co-selection of condition protection companies for partisan agenda.  I am fascinated in 4 questions.  

The to start with is: was there truly an unparalleled amount of violence – or is this just “opposition propaganda?”

The next is where by has all this violence come from?   

The third concern is what danger does this violence pose to our modern society?  And fourth and most important: what need to we do to change the narrative?  

Was there unprecedented political violence all through the 2020 elections? Certainly. 

The Ghana Police Assistance claims there ended up 61 election-related incidents throughout the nation between 7th December and 9th December 2020. 

The mass media inform us that in locations like Techiman South, Sene, Sefwi Wiawso, Ablekuma, Tarkwa Nsuaem, Essikado–Ketan and Upper Denkyira West, persons in armed service uniform threatened civilians associated in collating votes.  

And, for the to start with time in the Fourth Republic, several of these incidents involved firearms, foremost to the fatalities of at least 6 harmless Ghanaians: Tajudeen Alhassan, age 39, from Techiman SouthAbdala Ayaric, age 18, from Techiman SouthSamira Zakaria, age 14, from SaveluguRita Otuo, age 15, from OdododiodioEmmanuel Dompra, age 36 several years, from OdododiodioIbrahim Abass, age 30, from Ablekuma Central. Might they rest in peace. 

And may their deaths not be in vain! Who have been these shooters? Who will take institutional responsibility for their crimes? The Ghana Armed Forces (GAF), the Ghana Police Services (GPS), and the Countrywide Safety Council (NSC) are silent. The Presidency is silent!

We know that the Ablekuma Central shooter (killer of Ibrahim Abass wounded of a journalist and a Law enforcement Officer) has identified himself as an NSC officer stationed at Jubilee Household. 

Of course, the NSC has no legal ideal in anyway to bear arms. Why is the president (and Chair of the NSC) silent? In which did all this political violence come from? 

The December violence was not shocking. Everything pointed towards violence. 

To start with, underneath the Akufo-Addo administration, we observed NPP militias assault senior law enforcement, nationwide protection personnel, national stability installations and courts.  All in wide daylight.  All with full impunity.  

Then in January 2019, we noticed the assault, all over again in broad daylight, on the Ayawaso West Wuogon (AWW) by-election. A person of the perpetrators explained this attack as a “dress rehearsal” for the 2020 elections. That attack compelled NDC to withdraw from the by-election.

We observed reside Tv set protection of the Emile Brief Commission that investigated the AWW assault.  All Ghanaians figured out how NPP militiamen were being “trained”, armed, and deployed as part of an unlawful armed unit in the NSC Secretariat. 

Sad to say, the President dismissed the Emile Small Committee’s conclusions and recommendations expressing the committee had misunderstood its phrases of reference.

So, again, no one was held accountable for that assault.  Then, of system, there have been violent incidents through the voter registration work out, together with a Minister of State firing reside ammunition at civilians boasting self-defence. 

The creating for December was clearly on the wall. But the reality is that the violence started lengthy in advance of the Akufo-Addo presidency.  It has been setting up up in our modern society for many years. 

There is no secret for every se about how violence creeps into politics. All culture is about developing and sharing prosperity. Violence is often existing and increasing anytime an organised minority in modern society seeks to expropriate the prosperity of the the vast majority for alone. 

Of training course, exploiters desire to confuse and divide the exploited – employing race, gender, tribe, religion, sexual orientation, and even social gathering affiliation fairly than resorting to violence. 

They like to continue to keep the exploited so hectic combating every other that they are not able to identify their serious enemies or organise to defeat them. 

But there generally arrives the level in time when the exploited masses start out to suspect what is likely on. 

At that issue, the exploiters vacation resort to intensifying violence to protect the in general program.  This has been our heritage.  We have been by slave-primarily based agriculture (“before the white gentlemen came”), to higher-depth trans-Saharan or trans-Atlantic slave buying and selling, to large colonial exploitation, to unstable neo-colonialism in which the fee of exploitation has been increasing ten years immediately after ten years. 

In each situation, the minorities exploited the the greater part. They justified it in various ways – divine appropriate, do-them-right before-they-do-you, worship of bogus gods, cultural “civilising” missions, or comparative edge. 

Every time these justifications unsuccessful to persuade, then immediate violence was rolled out.  

British colonialism was remarkably prosperous in downplaying the wars of conquest it fought from rival elite units and people today normally unwilling to be exploited by British corporations. 

It fostered ethnic, religious, and other divisions among the people today of the Gold Coast.  Kwame Nkrumah’s genius was to slash by all those petty identities and develop a pan-African-nationalist movement over petty tribal and religious identities and use that unity to defeat colonialism and create foundations for a modern society that utilised its resources equitably for its enhancement instead than for the earnings of international investors and their regional brokers.

Nkrumah’s values and basic programme have been so well-liked that it took internationally directed armed forces violence to eliminate the independence revolution and restore minority exploitation. 

Unsurprisingly, the moment the army genie was produced in 1966, it took until 1992 before we could stabilise civilian constitutional rule in the Fourth Republic.

The 4th Republic emerged from the struggles of 31st December “revolution” with a social-democratic structure on the 1 hand and a political elite that by and significant approved the neoliberal development framework promoted by the Environment Lender, IMF, and WTO on the other hand. 

Even with pious rhetoric about constitutionalism et cetera, this program measures everything (systems, establishments, persons) by the volume of economic wealth they crank out. 

Inevitably, neoliberalism acquiesces in nearby politicians, technocrats, and bureaucrats enriching by themselves through the procedures of generating general public all-natural and institutional means offered to transnational organizations.  For the NPP this was old hat – small business as regular. 

The NDC experienced a sharp mastering curve to negotiate. But many of its massive males also soon realised that it was much easier to exercise patronage politics based on formal corruption than to direct a party completely mobilised to battle for social equity – a wrestle that normally consists of interior occasion accountability and democracy.  

So, while they have been really distinctive in 1992, NPP and NDC have moved nearer and nearer more than the last 2 a long time on the dilemma of elite entitlement. Just about every successive administration normally takes us to new ranges of brigandage. 

As expertise of, and resistance to this institutionalised looting and distrust of the political establishment spreads, the Establishment has more and more moved toward authoritarianism and violence. 

Apparently, the two principal get-togethers have grow to be so alike that they compete not so a great deal on vision and programmes but on not being as corrupt as the other. 

It is this collapse of legitimacy and the panic of the political elite that is driving the rise not only of political violence but of endeavours to co-opt point out protection agencies into partisan violence as we saw in December.  Violence is inescapable where there is systematic corruption. 

Therefore, any shift to do away with political violence necessitates that we tackle corruption and other abuses of electricity by the political class.

What threat does political violence pose to Ghana? Violence and particularly militarisation of politics undermines the Constitutional State.

As soon as bankrupt politicians start out to vacation resort to violence to protect their corrupt passions, it is hard for them to convert back again. 

Even worse, as soon as bankrupt politicians entice armed forces and militia commanders to do their soiled perform for them (specifically election rigging) then electrical power has began shifting absent from civilian establishments to “the males with guns” – even without the need of a official coup d’état. 

As soon as the political system has lost its legitimacy to the point that it can only survive by power, then there is no rationale for those people who wield the instruments of force to appear to civilian politicians for management or validation. 

If politics is about drive and it is soldiers who ought to risk everyday living and limb for it, then they can go into enterprise for by themselves.”Power tends to corrupt.  Absolute power corrupts absolutely”. 

Violent electricity is also addictive.  And even the place those people who hold it somehow keep away from habit, they discover that they simply cannot move back for anxiety of reprisals – or dismount from the proverbial Tiger’s back. 

As mentioned previously, it took a quarter of a century soon after the 1966 coup for the armed service to withdraw fully to barracks (wherever they have remained now for 27 years). 

In that interval, there had been 6 prosperous “revolutions”, and God knows how lots of unsuccessful coup makes an attempt. Violence and especially militarisation of politics corrupts and undermines the armed service by itself.  Troopers are not for each se greater or even worse than civilians.

On the other hand, the armed forces as an establishment is not developed to rule a place – any extra than a college is.  Politics is corrosive of non-political institutions. 

The politicisation of the security forces modifications their internal dynamics radically.  When senior officers get sides in a partisan dispute whether or not out of political conviction, ethnic allegiances, or for individual gain, you can be confident that troopers of competing persuasions, ethnicity, and so forth. will also come to feel justified in responding violently. 

Self-control breaks down.  And in its place of a qualified company that is the nation’s delight, you have armed camps biding their time to seize for electrical power – producing an inherently unstable problem.

Violence, and specially militarisation of politics, destabilises the marriage involving the armed service and civilians. 

The politicians who use the military services to brutalise citizens are education the military to disregard the structure and citizens’ rights and even to regard them as “enemies”. 

This mind-set inevitably breeds hostilities that, as we know from our record, can last for a long time right after armed service rule ends.  It is just a question of time prior to dissenting civilian forces commence to react to the army with violence.

Violence and particularly militarisation of politics retards  society. The society of the ruling elite is the society of modern society.  Specified its tradition and know-how (the administration and software of violence), military politics will generally be violent and repressive – no make any difference what lengthy-expression social goals it aspires to. 

It does not choose extended before civilians living below military services/militia rule start employing violence to resolve each social disagreement, primarily in which constitutional companies like the courts do not surface to be able to promise justice. 

We have all seen how, regardless of the conclude of navy involvement in domestic plan in 1992, the incidence of civilians resorting to militias and macho men in land and purely natural resources disputes is climbing.   

And, due to the fact the design of politics offered to soldier politicians is basically “galamsey”, navy governments will be corrupted. 

You can be sure that troopers who are unable to immediately access the pork barrel are actively wanting for an option to get their share. 

You can also be positive that a lot more specialist troopers will look for to “clean house” and return to experienced soldiering. Of study course, the Stability Products and services are not on your own.  Other condition establishments like the EC and the Judiciary have lost public belief when it comes to elections. 

However, a loss of impartiality on the part of the Stability Companies poses a considerably extra “clear and present” threat to our democracy. 
How can we adjust the narrative?

The genie has begun escaping from the lamp.  The fireplace is burning, but little by little.  All is not lost. We have come again from the brink before.  15 several years soon after the 1966 coup unleashed militarism into our politics, the PNDC, alone a product or service of this militarism, took on the challenge of setting up professionalism and political neutrality back again into the Stability Expert services. 

It took lots of decades and was a perilous and risky process. Life ended up missing.  It in all probability could not have been attained then devoid of a quasi-armed forces routine in cost.  How can we accomplish this these days under a constitutional technique?  I have some thoughts.

Initially, we should facial area our difficulty squarely.  We will have to quit pretending that Ghana is someway a unique situation.  The legal guidelines of social progress govern us as a lot as any other culture.  What has took place to other nations around the world can come about to Ghana if we behave like these other nations collectively behaved. 

2nd, experiencing the issue squarely means comprehending and working with the underlying problem of exploitation/corruption.  Of study course, any scientific assessment of corruption will take you to the a lot more basic dilemma of imperialism and our neo-colonial values. 

On the other hand, it is more than enough, for now, if we deal with the conduct of all those we elect to Condition office to represent public passions. If we can deal with the impunity of our state officers, we will find the strength to deal systemically with overseas exploitation – a person phase at a time.  

3rd, a campaign from impunity must be wide-centered.  We must mail a crystal clear message to politicians and the nationwide social elite that the times of impunity are above.  1000’s of brave NDC users have been in the streets over the very last 2 months protesting suspected EC rigging.   

If we can come across a much more embracing slogan, these 1000’s can turn into tens or hundreds of countless numbers.  We may possibly not concur on who must get the 2020 elections. 

Nevertheless, we can concur that the conclusion is for the electorate and not the EC or other point out organizations to make.  We can also agree that we do not want troopers and political militias to come to feel empowered to use the weapons we pay out for with our taxes to bully us into accepting any particular result. 

We can agree that we are tired of all the weekly corruption scandals and the typical white-washing of these scandals by our leaders.  We can concur to mobilise all over a slogan like: “No more impunity!”. 

Fourth, a marketing campaign against violence and impunity will have to alone be non-violent.  We need to be dependable as regards our values.  We have to also be tactical.  Any act that smacks of violence only presents an justification for a crackdown by the Stability Providers. They will then assert that they are performing in the public interest towards terrorists. 

We must search for to draw focus to our agenda and gain and mobilise.  We should not look for to terrorise other citizens.  Functions this sort of as burning tires however harmless in on their own suggest aggression that would make numerous harmless citizens unpleasant or scared. 

The level is to exhibit the general public will. We can use our allies in the media (who are threatened everyday by violence) to saturate the newspapers and air-waves with our message. 

We can demand from customers that the establishment speaks out.  And indeed, we should have protest marches, sit-ins, and train-ins.  And court actions to secure our constitutional rights.  Just about every pulpit, each individual mosque, each shrine really should send out out the phrase:  no more Impunity! 

If we start to act as peaceful but identified citizens and not basically watch and grumble like spectators, we can develop the ambiance that will empower first rate general public officers and establishments, whether or not navy or civilian, to start out to act professionally to act lawfully in the public interest, to refuse illegal orders, and not just defer to massive gentlemen and gals. 

We can create hundreds of Domelovos and Amidus.  We will build the ailments that will compel our spiritual institution and businesses like the Countrywide Peace Council to show some mettle.   

Even NPP activists are quietly worried about the developments we are seeing. A lot of would like to protest the tendencies they are looking at and the injustices of Occasion leadership bodies. 

An activist instant will also allow us to proper Social gathering-condition interactions that disempower and regiment grassroots social gathering activists and unreasonably empower the political elite.


If the violence and intimidation that characterised the 2020 elections lead to a mass rejection of violence and a campaign to finish impunity in our country, then terrible nevertheless these losses have been, we can mark Election 2020 as a departure toward a improved long run for all Ghanaians.


The writer, Augustus Goosie Tanoh is a Ghanaian politician and an intercontinental businessman who has served in both of those community and private sectors in his country Ghana.

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