In contemporary politics, the state maintains the monopoly of force to observe law and order. However, with the upsurge of the incidents of crime and the inability of the police as a result of logistical constraints to protect lives and property during any given election; and the perceived electoral malpractice and manipulation gave rise to the trend of political vigilantism within the political parties.
Though political vigilantism erupted during the pre-colonial era, its activities in our recent political discourse is alarming. With elections coming up in December, this trend of affairs could turn violent due to the political parties ‘ vigilante groups. Though the activities of these groups have been banned by the laws of the country, clandestinely, they still act as independent security actors.
According to Johnston (1996), “vigilantism entails the formation of groups by private citizens which use force or violence to put across their frustrations with the state of affairs in a country”. Political vigilantism is therefore the act of political behaviours aimed to alter ‘political landscape’, increase power for patrons, protect supportive communities and hinder political opponents (Raleigh, 2014, p.283).
The low and intense electoral violence caused by these events consistently exposes the country to a security threat that can easily and clearly lead to a large – scale political violence in the December 7 polls if government and stakeholders do not effectively and efficiently observe the ban imposed on these activities.
Even though the formation of political vigilante groups erupt from the theoretical frameworks of Securitization, Marxist and Institutionalism, there’s the need to address this problem holistically because it has the tendency to plague the country into a political turmoil. It must be noted that, political vigilantism is a threat to our democracy!
The major political actors in the country continue to express the debilitating effects of political vigilantism on our democratic advancement and on the other hand, support or fund their activities secretly. Both the New Patriotic Party and the National Democratic Congress are the worst culprits of these dastardly acts.
The concern of the ordinary and vulnerable people in this year’s election is safety, security, and credibility. To realise their dreams and maintain the status quo and continue the polarized ways that state powers are usually exercised, enhance the rise of political elites to vigilante groups to orchestrate brute force to intimidate, suppress, and at extreme cases eliminate political opponents to ensure victory for their parties and candidates.
BUSACgh is therefore urging government and all stakeholders in the December 7 election to be proactive to enforcing the ban on political vigilantism in the country for a free, fair, transparent and credible election acceptable to all parties and the international community. The police and the Judiciary must also be granted the absolute independence to deal with all forms of crime emanating from “political vigilantism” irrespective of political colour, ethnicity and status without fear or favour!
David Wilson Asetena-Krah
Bureau of Security Advocacy & Consultancy ( BUSACgh )