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Ghana's fourth attempt at constitutional democratic governance which started in 1992 has been plagued with negative acts of political vigilantism. Political vigilante groups play a key role in securing electoral victory for their parties. But they are also key agents in pushing their parties to opposition. Vigilante groups, particularly those belonging to the party that won elections have over the years, taken the laws of the country into their own hands, forcibly ejected officials of previous administration from their apartments and physically assaulted them, as well as engaged in seizures of public property and assets in the custody of public officials in an uncoordinated manner. These acts have fuelled polarization in Ghana's body politic and undermined the nation's drive towards democratic maturity. What accounts for the rise in the activities of vigilante groups? How useful are these groups to political parties? In what specific ways do vigilante groups pose a threat to Ghana's democratic governance? These and other allied questions are addressed in this article.
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African Review Vol. 44, No. 2, 2017: 112-135
Political Vigilantism and Democratic Governance in Ghana’s Fourth
Republic
Ransford E. Gyampo
Associate Professor, University of Ghana
E-mail: vangyampo@yahoo.com.
Emmanuel Graham
M.A Student, University of Windsor
E-mail: kofigraham@gmail.com
&
Bossman E. Asare
Senior Lecturer, University of Ghana
E-mail: bossasare@gmail.com
Abstract
Ghana’s fourth attempt at constitutional democratic governance which started
in 1992 has been plagued with negative acts of political vigilantism. Political
vigilante groups play a key role in securing electoral victory for their parties. But
they are also key agents in pushing their parties to opposition. Vigilante groups,
particularly those belonging to the party that won elections have over the years,
taken the laws of the country into their own hands, forcibly ejected officials of
previous administration from their apartments and physically assaulted them, as
well as engaged in seizures of public property and assets in the custody of public
officials in an uncoordinated manner. These acts have fuelled polarization in
Ghana’s body politic and undermined the nation’s drive towards democratic
maturity. What accounts for the rise in the activities of vigilante groups? How
useful are these groups to political parties? In what specific ways do vigilante
groups pose a threat to Ghana’s democratic governance? These and other allied
questions are addressed in this article.
Keywords: Ghana, Political Vigilantism, Political Clientelism, Political Party,
Democratic Governance
Political Vigilantism in Ghana’s Fourth Republic
113
Introduction
Ghana attained another step forward as a model of democracy in Africa on 7
January 2017 when there was a third peaceful transfer of political power from
one government to another.1 Several election observer groups such as Coalition
of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO) and the European Union Elections
Observer Missions (EU-EOM) described the 2016 general elections as well
administered, free, fair and transparent (CODEO, 2017a; EU EOM-Ghana, 2016;
Ghana Web, 2016a). However, The EU-EOM outlined several challenges such as
misuse of incumbency, unequal access to media, unaccountable financing
during the campaign period, abuse of state resources and infrastructure of the
presidency (GhanaWeb, 2016a).
Additionally, CODEO’s Post-Election Observation Statement pointed out
amongst other issues that there were isolated cases of acts of violence allegedly
perpetrated by some supporters of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) against some
advocates of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), as well as the unlawful
and forceful seizures of public and private property in some constituencies
across the country. Also, CODEO's Communiqué released on 6 April 2017, the
domestic observers expressed grave concern about the proliferation of the
activities of vigilante groups and faulted the two major political parties, the NPP
and NDC as being culpable for creating such dangerous party militia in Ghana.
The activities of these groups pose a considerable danger to Ghana’s electoral
politics, democratic governance and development (CODEO, 2017b : 2). It must
however be noted that vigilante groups do not spring up in a vacuum. What
accounts for their formation? What are they expected to do? What do they
actually do? How do their activities promote the interest of political parties?
How do their activities undermine Ghana’s drive towards democratic maturity?
These are the questions to be addressed by this article. The central thesis of this
paper is that even though political vigilantism plays a key role in securing
electoral victories, it also contributes to electoral defeats of political parties and
also undermines Ghana’s drive towards democratic maturity and consolidation.
There are several works on Ghana’s democratic development, democratic
consolidation and electoral politics such as Ayee (1997, 1998, 2002), Frempong
(2008, 2012), Gyimah-Boadi (1991, 2001, 2009) and Smith (2002a, 2002b).
Other works looked at the role of civil society, and several state institutions in
Ghana's democratic consolidation (Whitfield, 2003; Arthur, 2010; Gyampo and
Asare, 2015). Some have looked at the prospects and challenges of democratic
consolidation in Ghana (Abdulai and Crawford, 2010; Fobih, 2008). There are
R. E. Gyampo, E. Graham & B. E. Asare
114
several works on ethnicity and electoral politics in Ghana and the threat to
Ghana’s maturing democracy (Adjei, 2013; Arthur, 2009; Frempong, 2001, 2004,
2006). Some works have also looked at voter behaviour (Debrah, 2016 and;
Lindberg and Morrison, 2005, 2008).
Undoubtedly, Ghana’s flourishing democracy has also received significant
intellectual attention (Debrah, 2016; Gyampo and Asare, 2015; Yobo and
Gyampo, 2015; Alidu, 2014; Brierley and Ofosu, 2014; Bob-Milliar, 2012; Abdulai
and Crawford, 2010; Ayee, 2011, 2002, 1998, 1997; Arthur, 2010; Daddieh,
2009; Gyimah-Boadi, 2009; Boafo-Arthur, 2006; Agyeman-Duah, 2005;
Frempong, 2001, 2004, 2006, 2012; Oquaye, 1995; Smith, 2002a, 2002b).
Nevertheless, there appear to be no scholarly study of the activities of political
vigilantism and how they affect Ghana’s drive towards democratic maturity. The
divisive activities of vigilantism have plagued all the three turnovers of political
power in 2001, 2009 and 2017 and must not escape intellectual research and
analysis.
Admittedly, an earlier work of Gyampo (2010) focused on some narrow issues
of party apparatchiks (agents of an apparatus), however, it did not cover the
particular subject of how political vigilantism contribute to electoral victories,
defeats and poses serious threats not only to governance but also on Ghana’s
entire democratic development. The distinctiveness of this paper is that it is,
arguably, the first or among the ground-breaking studies that seek to examine
activities of political vigilantism in the democratic practice of Ghana’s fourth
republic.2
Structurally, the paper provides a conceptual or theoretical definition and
explanation of political vigilantisms and discusses the nexus between clientelism
and vigilantism. It examines the activities of vigilantism in Ghana from a
historical perspective and highlights the contributions of vigilantism towards
electoral victories and defeats. It examines the negative effects of vigilantism on
Ghana’s democratic practice and proffer some recommendations on the way
forward.
Political Vigilantism
To be vigilant is simply to be watchful and awake. Being watchful and fully
awake to ensure nothing untoward happens has nothing to do with violence.
However, in many developing democracies, vigilantism is commonly
summarised as "taking the law into one's own hands" And violent display of
Political Vigilantism in Ghana’s Fourth Republic
115
brute force to protect the interest of a group that one belongs to (Rosenbaum
and Sederberg, 1974: 542). It consists of acts or threats of coercion in violation
of the formal boundaries of an established socio-political order, which,
however, are intended by the violators to defend that order from some form of
subversion (ibid).
Vigilantism covers a broad range of violent acts ranging from dissident violence,
to the legal exercise of physical coercion by a regime or its representatives.
Several basic types of this variegated phenomenon can be analytically
distinguished. Fundamentally, these are related to the intended purposes of
vigilante action. Three such purposes appear to predominate: crime control,
social group control, and regime control. Social groups control vigilantism has
diverse manifestations based on communal (i.e., having a primordial
characteristic such as race, religion, caste, tribe, and the like), economic, or
political. Violence intended to regulate pariah communal groups constitutes the
first subtype. Unlike crime control vigilantism, this form of establishment
violence often appears rooted less in government ineffectiveness per se than in
the irrelevance of formal avenues of redress (Rosenbaum and Sederberg, 1974:
548–556).
Vigilantisms could therefore be summed up as a form of social group controlled
violence or activism, which serves the political interest of both an incumbent
government and the opposition since both incumbent government and the
opposition have their vigilante groups. These groups' actions could be fair or
foul. Political vigilante groups are part of the broader concept of party
apparatchiks who are agents of a government or party "aparat" (apparatus)
they comprise amongst others party foot-soldiers who work intensely to ensure
the election of their respective parties into power and can be relied upon to
defend the party without compromising (Gyampo, 2010: 562). It must however
be noted that there may also be vigilante groups organized around ethnicity as
some examples in Kenya and Philippines show.
The activities of political vigilante groups are based on the notion of reciprocity
and the provision of personalised goods. They believe that public office holders
(patrons) are wealthy and control massive resources (Daddieh and Bob-Milliar,
2012). Consequently, they expect the political elite to share the state resources
with them once they are in government, therefore, they work hard to win and
retain power for their political elite (Bob-Milliar, 2014). There is therefore a
linkage between political vigilantism and clientelism which ought to be explored
R. E. Gyampo, E. Graham & B. E. Asare
116
further.
The Nexus between Clientelism and Vigilantism
In the 1960's and 1970's studies on African politics, in general, were
conceptualised with words like "clientelism," "neo-patrimonialism,"
"personalism," "prebendalism," and "rentier state" (Bratton and van de Walle,
1994; Lindberg, 2004, p. 4). Political clientelism became a prominent feature of
developing countries during these periods. Many comparative electoral studies
on Africa described electoral politics in Africa as systematically and intrinsically
clientelistic. African leaders, whether autocratic or democratic, rely on the
distribution of personal favours in selecting people in return for unceasing
political support (Scott, 1972; Bratton and van de Walle, 1994).
Although there are many definitions of clientelism, it can be described
substantially as transactions between politicians and citizens whereby material
favours are offered in return for political support at the polls (Wantchekon,
2003: 3). Clientelism is a political exchange where a politician (i.e., a "patron")
gives patronage in return for the vote or support of a "client". Clientelism also
refers to a multifaceted chain of personal bonds between political patrons or
bosses and their individual clients or followers. These bonds are founded on
mutual material advantages where the patron furnishes excludable resources to
their client or dependents and accomplices in return for their rigid support and
cooperation (Brinkerhoff and Goldsmith, 2004: 165). These patrons are
incredibly powerful and distribute these assets to their supporters. The patrons
are not independent actors but are connected to a larger grid of contacts that
serve as middlemen who arrange exchanges between the local level and the
national level.
Political patrons disregard the long-term national interest and focus on
supporting their clients hence anyone who is not a client receives nothing from
the government. These acts of clientelism tend to thrive in uncertain political
and economic environments at the rural and urban level making it an avenue for
the politics of survival for both patrons and clients. As a result, the poor and
marginalised members of society are drawn into these networks as the only
solution to their daily survival due to limited access to formal assistance. Clearly,
a dominant feature in the literature is that, in clientelism, it is jobs that are
exchanged for votes (Robinson and Verdier, 2013: 262). The structure of the
political clientelistic connection concerns both the input side of democratic
politics regarding elections and to its output side about state-funded benefits
Political Vigilantism in Ghana’s Fourth Republic
117
based on political and administrative decisions, i.e. characteristics associated
with functions of the welfare state (Kusche, 2014: 208). Such welfare state
involves universal provisions for subsistence, health, housing, education, etc.,
provisions that would render patron–client ties, otherwise often essential for
receiving support, obsolete (Therborn, 1987: 240). Although, social policy as
such does not impede clientelism (Kurtz, 2002). In some welfare regimes, it is
used to target particular groups in the electorate and link welfare state benefits
with individual voting decisions. Apart from such benefits, employment in the
public sector, administrative decisions concerning concessions, fines, public
contracts and many other aspects of state regulation and activity are turned
into personal favours within a clientelistic relationship when the public
bureaucracy does not decide according to universalistic criteria. In the context
of a democratic political system, the main service clients can offer in return for
such favours, apart from deferential behaviour and diffuse loyalty, are their
votes in political elections (Kusche, 2014).
Clientelism fuels the activities of political vigilante groups in the sense that once
the patron wins power, clients who in this situation are the vigilante groups
feels entitled to jobs and all the resources conferred by power. They therefore
resort to all means to forcibly capture state resources, property and
opportunities, especially when there is a feeling of delay on the part of the
patrons in meeting the needs of clients within the frame work on patron-client
relations (Bratton and van de Walle, 1994; Robinson and Verdier, 2013; Kusche,
2014). It is instructive to note that vigilantism in Ghana is also fueled by
clientelism. There appear to be no research on how this happens but this paper
shows the way in subsequent sections. It links political clientelism to political
vigilantism in Ghana's fourth republic, focusing on how the latter has led to both
the electoral defeat and victory of NDC and NPP and the major threat it poses to
Ghana’s fledgling democracy. The next important question to address is, how
did political vigilantism start in Ghana? The next section responds to this
question by discussing political vigilantism in Ghana from a brief historical
perspective.
Political Vigilantism in Ghana: An Overview
Political Vigilantism has it historical antecedence from youth activism in politics
during the British colonial era when the Convention People’s Party youth wing,
known as Nkrumah’s ‘Veranda Boys’ set the pace for party youth activism in
Ghana. Kwame Nkrumah steered his ‘Veranda Boy’ (who were mostly youth) to
a successful political sovereignty from the British (Paalo, 2017). Several political
R. E. Gyampo, E. Graham & B. E. Asare
118
parties since independence's have engaged the services of youth groups. In the
Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) era, some vigilante groups such as
the "Mobisquad", Committee for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR), Workers
Defense Committees (WDCs), Peoples Defense Committees (PDCs) and others
were trained and armed to defend the revolution. Many wings such as the
Women's and Youth Wings of Political Parties, particularly the two largest ones
(NPP and NDC), were formed which were made up of die-hard or core foot
soldiers (Gyampo, 2010).
Currently, there are over twenty-four (24) registered political parties in Ghana
some of which include Convention People's Party (CPP), People's National
Convention (PNC), NDC and NPP (Paalo, 2017). Both NDC and NPP have gained
national and international notoriety for their continuous association with youth
arms such as ‘Azoka' (for NDC) and ‘Invincible Forces' (for NPP) (Bob-Milliar,
2014). It is imperative to note that the activities of political vigilante groups have
manifested in all the seven elections and three transitions that Ghana’s fourth
republican democratic dispensation has undergone. Both NPP and NDC have
their vigilante groups in all the 10 regions of Ghana, sometimes, with different
names. Table 1 is a pictorial representation of the various vigilante groups
across the ten administrative regions of Ghana and their names:
Table 1: The political vigilante groups in all the Ten Regions of Ghana
Region NPP NDC
Ashanti Delta Force No special name/ NDC Foot soldiers
Eastern Invincible Forces No special name/ NDC Foot soldiers
Western Western Crocodiles No special name/ NDC Foot soldiers
Brong-
Ahafo
No special name/ NPP Foot soldiers No special name/ NDC Foot soldiers
Central No special name/ NPP Foot soldiers No special name/ NDC Foot soldiers
Northern No special name/ NPP Foot soldiers No special name/ NDC Foot soldiers
Upper East Bolga-Bulldogs Azorka Boys
Upper
West
No special name/ NPP Foot soldiers No special name/ NDC Foot soldiers
Greater
Accra
No special name/ NPP Foot soldiers No special name/ NDC Foot soldiers
Volta No special name/ NPP Foot soldiers No special name/ NDC Foot soldiers
Source: Authors’ compilation
These groups have resorted to illegal acts including confiscation of state
property, forcible ejection of officials of state from their apartments, physical
Political Vigilantism in Ghana’s Fourth Republic
119
assault of former government appointees and other human right abuses in a
manner have filled Ghana’s body politic with tension, rancor and acrimony
within the first few months of new regimes. The activities of the activities of
political vigilante groups, as indicated earlier, have several repercussions. These
are specifically discussed in the next section.
Political Vigilantism and Electoral Victories in Ghana
A major role that political vigilante groups have played in Ghana's fourth
republic has been serving as agents for the distribution and spread of party
manifestos and ideologies to the electorates especially in remote parts of the
country in what is known as “door-to-door campaign”. In all the seven general
elections conducted in the fourth republic, these vigilante groups were present
at many homes in remote parts of the country supporting their various political
parties (Paalo, 2017).
On the NPP side, their foot soldiers were instrumental in all the electoral
victories chalked by the party in 2000, 2004 and 2016 general elections, For
instance, at a meeting of over a 1000 foot soldiers prior to the 2008 general
election the National Coordinating Director of the Foot Soldiers Association
(FOSWA) of the NPP stated that it was the “immense political strategy” of these
foot soldiers which won the NPP in power in 2000 and 2004 (Gyampo, 2010). It
was their vigorous campaign from house to house to get reluctant voters who
came out in their numbers to vote for the party (GhanaWeb, 2007). Again, in
2016 general elections an NPP member of parliament Mr Kennedy Agyapong
stated that part of their electoral victory was as a result of the efforts of “these
boys” who fought hard for the party to return to power in 2017 (Daily Graphic,
2017).
Similarly, the NDC foot soldiers helped their party win the 2008 general election
by engaging in door-to-door campaign and by distributing and spreading their
party’s manifesto and ideology across the length and breadth of the country
(Gyampo, 2010) For instance, on May 1, 2010, the NDC presented about 1,000
certificates to dedicated polling station agents, foot soldiers and officials in
Ablekuma Central Constituency as an appreciation of their role in securing
victory for the party in the 2008 general elections (GNA, 2010). Again, in 2011
before the 2012 general elections, the NDC foot soldiers launched a campaign
to support their presidential candidate in which several activists were spotted in
T-Shirts with their presidential candidates picture on them campaigning across
the country (Daily Guide, 2011).
R. E. Gyampo, E. Graham & B. E. Asare
120
Additionally, these vigilante groups in collaboration with party activists and
youth wings have been active in all election-related matters such as serving as
polling agents, helping with voter registration and other election-related
support. As a result of this, they have encouraged fairness and transparency
during all the seven general elections in the fourth republic especially during the
voter registration exercises. For instance, in 2008, these vigilante groups were
instrumental in monitoring polling centres, specifically in the remote rural
districts, which contributed massively towards the checking of impersonation
(Gyampo, 2010). Both NPP and NDC vigilante groups, youth groups and party
activists have served as polling agents and monitoring agents throughout the
electioneering cycle such as voter registration, voting and coalition of votes
from 1992 up to 2016 (Paalo, 2017).
More importantly, they have taken the role of party security apparatus. They
are often trained as security agents for their party before, during and after
elections. Some of them are trained to protect the leadership of their party
especially when that party is in opposition for the lack of trust in the state
security agencies. In April 2016, three South African ex-police officers
contracted to train the security detail of the NPP flag bearer, and running mate
were arrested deported by the government for their actions (Paalo, 2017).
Nonetheless, the NPP youth organiser Sammy Awuku in an interview with Citi
News admitted:
We are taking steps to give maximum protection to our presidential
candidate and his running mate. That is non-negotiable. So whether the
South Africans have been sent home or not, we will take that step to protect
our presidential candidate and his running mate and of course by extension,
to also offer some protection to all those who will be on the campaign trail
until the police come with their help (Allotey, 2016a).
Again, at an NPP rally in the Northern Region in October 2016, the Regional
Chairman of the party, Mr. Bugri Naabu stated that the ballot boxes would be
protected by ‘macho' men to prevent the ruling NDC from rigging the elections
on December 7 (Kombat, 2016). Also, during the 2012 general elections NDC
took about 60 members of a group known as the ‘Unbreakable Group', a youth
grouping made up of well-built men (macho men) to protect ballot boxes in
several polling stations at Ho in the Volta Region which contributed to their
victory in the elections (Daily Guide, 2014). Again, on 7 December, 2016, whilst
voting was going on some vigilante youth group in Nhyaeso with the help of the
Political Vigilantism in Ghana’s Fourth Republic
121
police arrested two men who attempted to snatch a ballot box at the polling
station (Myjoyonline.com, 2016b).
Subsequently, these political vigilante groups help support their party by raising
funds across the country and abroad. Fund raising is important for political
parties to survive especially when that party is in opposition and lacks
incumbency advantage. They often organise fund raising activities to solicit
funds across the country and abroad from staunch members, companies,
business, agencies and all party sympathisers. Furthermore, they engage in
selling of party paraphernalia and products to generate funds. For example,
both NPP and NDC party activists and vigilante groups created funds for their
respective parties before general elections (Gyampo, 2012).
A key contribution of political vigilantism to the electoral victory of both NPP
and NDC is that political vigilante groups have the youthful zeal to make the
presence of their parties felt across the country. These vigilante groups or foot
soldiers attend weddings, funerals, naming ceremonies of the member of their
communities to make their presence felt (Bob-Milliar, 2014). In so doing such
groups win the sympathy of members of society who in return vote for their
political parties describing them as “a party for the people”. There are several
cases of such groups getting involved in personal events of their members. For
instance, while in opposition, in 2007 a year before the 2008 general elections
the NDC launched what could be described as ‘social gather campaign'. With
this, the executives of the party encouraged members of the party and foot
soldiers to attend almost every social gathering particularly funerals, out-
dooring and others to canvass support for the party before the 2008 elections
(Daily Guide, 2007). At NDC’s primary elections in Western Region in November
2007, Alhaji Fuseini Mahama, the Western Regional 2nd Vice Chairman of NDC
stated that “whoever wins as a parliamentary candidate of the NDC should
attend social gathering such as funerals and out-doorings in their areas and sell
the party to the people” (ibid.).
Another role the group play is they serve as pressure groups on the
government, which has often brought pressure on national executives over
pertinent issues, including matters bordering on internal democracy. For
example, in 1995 NPP vigilante groups in collaboration with other NPP activists
such as the Alliance for Change, demonstrated against the introduction of the
Value Added Tax in Ghana by the Rawlings regime led by the NDC. This
contributed to the loss of popularity of the NDC and electoral victory of the NPP
R. E. Gyampo, E. Graham & B. E. Asare
122
in the 200 elections (Gyampo, 2010). Also, in 2005, the NDC group, Committee
for Joint Action piled pressure on the NPP government through series of
demonstrations and press releases against what they called ‘bad governance’
and ‘economic hardship’ imposed on the ordinary Ghanaian by the NPP
administration. This also contributed to the bad image of the NPP government
and helped in the NDC’s electoral victory in the 2008 elections (Bob-Milliar,
2014).
Electoral Defeats in Ghana
A major factor that has contributed to the electoral defeat of an incumbent
government has been the crossing of the carpet (changing their party) of party
foot soldiers to the opposition party as a result of neglect by their patrons
(government) (Bob-Milliar, 2014). In 2008 some NPP foot soldiers complained of
their neglect by the party and government functionaries due to this neglect
many decided to vote for the NDC who won the general elections (Arthur,
2009). In April 2007 a year before the 2008 general elections the polling station
chairmen, foot soldiers and other activists of the NPP in the Ablekuma Central
Constituency called on their party to honour all the promises given to them
during the previous political campaigns which the party did not honour
(Gyampo, 2010).In a statement signed Mr Lawrence Hesse on behalf of the
polling agents and party foot soldiers, the group wanted the NPP government to
come out and address these issues or warning that "they" will not involve
themselves in any critical party activities within the constituency (GNA, 2007).
Similarly in July 2015 before the 2016 general elections, some NDC youth and
macho men in Ashaiman crossed carpet to the opposition NPP citing that the
ruling NDC government failed to attend to their needs (Paalo, 2017). Their
leader Ismael Harunastated that after working hard for the NDC for sixteen
years and helping the party win power in 2008 and 2012 "nothing better has
been given to the youth so now, we want to declare our support to work hard
for Nana Akufo-Addo for 2016"(Osam, 2015:10). Additionally, this feeling of
neglect by these vigilante groups leads to voter apathy. For instance, during the
2016 general elections, there was a high level of apathy and discontent in the
domain of the NDC’s core constituencies which led the ‘skirt and blouse’ voting
pattern in many pro-NDC constituencies.3 These included the Lawra and the
Nandom Constituencies in the Upper West region; the Krachi East Constituency
in the Volta region; and the Zabzugu and the Salaga South Constituencies the
Northern region (EC-Ghana, 2016).
Political Vigilantism in Ghana’s Fourth Republic
123
Subsequently, abuse of campaign resources by party executives and leadership
of these vigilante groups have also contributed to the electoral defeat of
incumbent governments (Bob-Milliar, 2014; Gyampo, 2010). For example, a
week after the 2016 general elections, the NDC foot soldiers in Ashanti Region
were pursuing members of the regional campaign team to refund huge sums of
money sent to them for the elections (Paalo, 2017). The former Municipal Chief
Executive Officer of Ejisu Mr. Afrifah Yamoah Ponkok accused the regional
Chairman of the Party, Mr. Andy Osei Okrah, of being incompetent with regards
to mobilization of resources for campaigning. He stated, “You (Mr Andy Osei
Onkrah) have stolen sacks of government and campaign money. Go and enjoy
with your wives and kinds. God is watching you” (TheChronicle.com, 2016).
Similarly, after the 2016 general elections, some polling station agents of the
NDC in Kintampo North Constituency of the Brong Ahafo Region accused their
executives of diverting Ghc 37,100.00 meant for them as allowance for their
contribution towards the party's campaign prior to the general elections. The
polling agents numbering about 143 also threatened to resign if the leadership
failed to scrutinize and ensure that the executives give accounts of their
stewardship (Kombat, 2017). Embezzling resources meant for campaign would
definitely have some negative impact on the party’s electoral fortunes. This is
common knowledge and there is no need for a soothsayer to foretell this.
Drive towards Democratic Maturity
The democratic gains of Ghana cannot be built upon to mature, when there are
acts that undermine the expression of the sovereign will of the people,
particularly during elections and voting. Unfortunately, the negative activities of
political vigilante groups sometimes involves destroying voting materials and
snatching of ballot boxes especially when there are indications of electoral
defeat. All the seven general elections held in the fourth republic have
witnessed this the unfortunate practice of ballot box theft or snatching by
vigilante groups (Alidu, 2014; Bob-Milliar, 2014; Myjoyonline.com, 2016). For
instance in 2012 general elections there were 137 incidences that undermined
voting in the Ashanti, Greater Accra and Northern Regions. These incidences
include snatching of ballot boxes, suspension of voting, intimidation/harassment
and violation of the voting procedures orchestrated by political vigilante groups
(CODEO, 2013b).
Another threat posed by political vigilantism to Ghana’s democracy is the
vandalization of state or public properties by vigilante groups. For instance, in
R. E. Gyampo, E. Graham & B. E. Asare
124
May 2010, some NPP foot soldiers in Wa in the Upper West Region vandalized
properties belonging to the party to register their displeasure over the award of
a contract to members of the NDC (ModernGhana.com, 2010). Also in 2011,
some vigilante groups claiming to be affiliated to NDC burnt down a party office
to show their displease with a court ruling that saw the release of some persons
accused of the murder of a prominent chief in the region (Bob-Milliar, 2012;
Alidu, 2014). Again in May 2011, some NDC vigilante group attacked the office
of the mayor of Tamale and destroyed office equipment including furniture,
stationery, exhibition stands and computers as protest against a decongestion
exercise in the city (Bob-Milliar, 2014).
Similarly, after the 2016 general elections there were several reports across the
country of NPP vigilante groups destroying some state properties after their
party won the elections (Adogla-Bessa, 2017b; Ansah, 2017). Indeed, some
vigilante groups attacked some NDC supporters, vandalized some government
properties including the portions of the Fountain at the Kwame Nkrumah
interchange in Accra (Allotey, 2016b). Also, in April 2017 some members of the
Delta Force (an NPP Vigilante group) stormed the Kumasi Circuit Court and freed
13 members of their group who were facing charges for causing disturbances at
the Ashanti Regional Coordinating Council. They vandalized some court
properties and almost assaulted the Judge, Mary Senkyere (Adogla-Bessa,
2017c).
Vigilante groups also pose a threat to Ghana’s democracy through their
constant protests and public disturbances. In all the general elections many of
these groups affiliated to the wining party have in one way or the other,
protested or caused public disturbances as a way of showing their displeasure
for the policies or decisions of their government. For instance, in April 2017,
over 200 members of the Delta Force attacked the Ashanti Regional Security
Coordinator (Mr. George Agyei) and chased him out of his office stating that he
was ‘not part of the struggle’ to win power from the NDC during the general
elections in December (Myjoyonline.com, 2017). Also, in 2000 a vigilante group
of Okai North Constituency Branch of the NPP vowed to ‘ fiercely resist’ attempt
by the leadership of the party to impose the incumbent Member of Parliament
Mr Darko as the party’s parliamentary candidate (GhanaWeb, 2000). Again in
April 2013, some NDC foot soldier numbering about 50 on motorbikes stormed
the NDC’s Ashanti Regional Office during a meeting to vehemently resist the
appointment of Mr Eric Opoku as the Kumasi Metropolitan Chief Executives
(MCE). They accused the regional executives of influencing the nomination of
Political Vigilantism in Ghana’s Fourth Republic
125
Mr. Bonsu who was not known to the party foot soldiers (Asare, 2013). These
activities have created disturbances of the peace of the nation.
Furthermore, vigilante groups in Ghana have been involved in seizure or
occupancy of public properties following the electoral victory of their preferred
parties. For example, after the 2016 there were violent actions and the forcible
seizure of public and private property by some NPP supporters. There were such
acts as unlawful seizure of public installations and services such as tollbooths,
lorry parks, public latrines and illegal entry and seizure of state properties in the
custody of former government functionaries and political party opponents
(CODEO, 2017, Paalo, 2017). Indeed, CODEO Observers reported incidents such
as seizure of public places of convenience such as in Asokore market in the New
Juaben North constituency of the Eastern region and another in Changni in the
Tamale Central constituency of the Northern region. Additionally, on 9 January,
2017, an NPP vigilante group stormed the offices of the National Health
Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and the Non-Formal Education Division (NFED) in
Juabeso in the Western region, drove away all workers and took over the two
places. A similar group repeated same in the Tamale Metro NHIS office in the
Northern region and demanded that the managers vacate their post.
Furthermore, some NPP supporters marched to the Bodi District Assembly in
the Bodi Constituency of the Western Region and demanded the resignation of
the District Chief Executive (DCE) explaining that the DCE’s party was no longer
in power. The group also demanded the car keys of the DCE’s official vehicle
(CODEO, 2017a).4
Similarly, following the electoral victory of the NDC in the 2008 elections, their
vigilante groups “captured” and forcibly occupied several government buildings.
They evicted the occupants and took over their positions and jobs (Bob-Milliar,
2014). Several revenue collection jobs such as public toilets, tollbooths and
others taken over by the foot soldier of the NPP in 2001 were revenged by the
NDC in 2009 and clearly the did same when their party won the 2016 elections.
This cycle is extremely dangerous to national cohesion and could have major
consequences of violent conflict and confrontations which could be a recipe for
democratic relapse.
Another major affront to Ghana’s drive towards democratic maturity is human
rights abuse and physical assaults sometimes perpetrated by vigilante groups
against officials of parties that lose elections. Both NPP and NDC vigilante
groups and foot soldiers are culpable. For example on 24 March, 2017, the Delta
R. E. Gyampo, E. Graham & B. E. Asare
126
Force of the NPP stormed the premises of the Ashanti Regional Coordinating
Council and demanded the removal of the Regional Security Coordinator,
George Adjei. In the process, they inflicted multiple injuries on the victim and
but for the timely intervention of the police, serous casualties would have been
recorded (Nyabor, 2017c). As a result of this some 13 thirteen members of the
Delta Force were arrested for trial in court. But they were forcibly freed by other
members of the vigilante group during their trial at the Kumasi Circuit Court on
20th April 2017 (Adogla-Bessa, 2017c).5 Also, After the 2016 general elections
the NDC National Organizer Kofi Adams alleged that two of their loyalists were
murdered in Sefwi Wiawso and Dunkwa as a result of the rampage and forcible
takeover of state property by the NPP foot soldiers and party loyalists (Nyabor,
2017b). Similarly after the 2012 elections, there were reports of harassment,
intimidations and violation of voting procedures in the Ashanti, Greater Accra
and Northern Regions (CODEO, 2013a). Also, in August 2008 it was reported
some NDC foot soldiers and vigilante group members fired gunshots and
scattered supporters/ activists (Bob-Milliar, 2014).
Frequent violent clash between groups can also destabilize a nation and
undermine its democratic gains. Unfortunately, the activities of vigilante groups
in Ghana have also resulted in several violent clashes. For example in November
2016 before the general elections some supporters of both NPP and NDC were
involved in a violent attack at Asokore in the New Juaben Municipality of the
Eastern Region when their paths crossed during a health walk led by the
parliamentary candidates of the two parties (Myjoyonline.com, 2016a). Similarly
in November 2016, at least five people were injured as a result of a clash
between the NPP and NDC supporters at the Wulensi Constituency in the
Nanumba South District of the Northern Region. The clash arose as a result over
confusion regarding who had the right to hold a political rally in the community
on that particular day (GhanaWeb, 2016c). Again, midnight of 6th December
2016, there were clashes between NPP and NDC supporters at Chereponi in the
Northern Region which led to the death of one person and fourteen injured
(GNA, 2016). A similar clash happened in 2004 at Tamale when NDC supporters
were hosting a flag-raising ceremony and at Zogbeli where the NPP was
commissioning a campaign team (Daily Graphic, 2004).
Conclusion
Political vigilantism fuelled by clientelistic politics in Ghana poses severe threats
to Ghana’s efforts at consolidating her democracy. These groups may exist to
promote the parochial interest of politicians. At the same time, their activities
Political Vigilantism in Ghana’s Fourth Republic
127
are counter-productive to securing electoral victories for their parties. On a
bigger picture, the activities of political vigilante groups in Ghana are among the
key challenges that undermine the nation’s drive towards democratic maturity.
In this regard, Ghana’s efforts to climb higher the ladder of democratic
progression would come to nought if proactive measures are not taken to deal
with the phenomenon of vigilantism. It is therefore recommended that state
institutions such as the police, military and all security apparatus of the state
should not only be well equipped, but must be encouraged by regime heads and
political leaders to deal rigorously with all forms of threat posed by vigilante
groups without fear or favour. Secondly, political parties, working in tandem
with the National Commission for Civic Education must educate and sensitize
party supporters about the dangers of the negative activities of vigilantism and
encourage them to eschew all negative acts of vigilantism that undermines
national cohesion and create tension, rancour as well as acrimony in the body
politic. Also, the judiciary must deal with culprits expeditiously, without fear or
favour in an attempt to send signals to those who may emulate the negative
acts of vigilantism. Furthermore, the negative acts of political vigilante groups
must be condemned by all, particularly civil society and identifiable groups such
as the Ghana Bar Association (GBA), the Centre for Democratic Governance
(CDD), and Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG) in an attempt to also pile
pressure on governments and state institutions to deal with those who commit
offences and run afoul of the laws of the land under the cloak of political
vigilantism.
Notes
1. The first and second turnovers occurred in 2001 and 2009 respectively. In
2001, the incumbent President Jerry J. Rawlings of NDC handed over power
peacefully to John A. Kufuor of NPP who also handed over power to John E.
A. Mills of NDC in 2009. Also, the third peaceful transition was on 9 January
2017 after the 2016 general election, where the opposition leader, Nana
Akufo-Addo, won 53.85 percent of total valid votes while President John
Dramani Mahama secured 44.40 percent of the total valid votes.
2. Fourth republic is simply Ghana’s fourth attempt at constitutional
democratic governance. The first republic lasted between 1960 and 1966.
The second lasted from 1969 to 1972. The third republic was from 1979 to
1981 while the fourth republic commenced from 1992 to date. In between
the republics were military dictatorships.
R. E. Gyampo, E. Graham & B. E. Asare
128
3. Skirt and blouse voting simply means the practice of voting for a Presidential
Candidate of one party and voting for a Parliamentary Candidate from a
different political party.
4. Also, in the Amasaman Division of the Police Command arrested Kwame
Ofosu Agyei an NPP constituency Chairman of Trobo for attempting to take
over activities of the Doblo tollbooth (Nyabor, 2017a). Another 5 were
arrested by the Accra Regional Police command at CMB and Makola Market
for seizing the AMA tolls and preventing revenue collectors from issuing toll
tickets to traders (Adogla-Bessa, 2017a).
5. The 13 who were freed later on reported themselves to the police and there
were 8 members who were also arrested in connection with the court break
out. The court later on discharged these 8 members based on lack of
evidence from the State Attorney. After this release the Attorney General
(AG) Issue an investigation in the their release by the State Attorney stating
that the AG was not aware and that the State Attorney did not follow the
administrative procedures (Nyabor, 2017a).
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... Scholarly discussions of this rather negative phenomenon have not been dominant in Ghana except in a few instances [8,9,10,5]. Instead, a chunk of discussions of vigilantism in Ghana has taken the form of media commentaries. ...
... Gyampo et.al., [10] explored the phenomenon of political party vigilantism and recounted the many instances where their activities including the unlawful and forceful seizures of public and private property in some constituencies throughout the country whenever there is a change of government, have attracted public condemnation. In their view, activities of vigilante groups promise to be solidified due to the tacit endorsement of these groups by the major political parties in Ghana [10]. ...
... Gyampo et.al., [10] explored the phenomenon of political party vigilantism and recounted the many instances where their activities including the unlawful and forceful seizures of public and private property in some constituencies throughout the country whenever there is a change of government, have attracted public condemnation. In their view, activities of vigilante groups promise to be solidified due to the tacit endorsement of these groups by the major political parties in Ghana [10]. This creates the impression that a bad seed has been sown and could grow to pose insecurity and undermine the country's democratic gains. ...
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The chapter explored the extent to which relative deprivation can make young people to take the law into their hands in the name of political party politics in Ghana.
... However, electoral violence often perpetrated by political party vigilante groups or party militias affiliated with the two leading political parties, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and National Democratic Congress (NDC), has been a major aberration in Ghana's political environment and democratic journey (Armah-Attoh, 2017;Gyampo, 2017; Institute for Security 91 Studies (ISS), 2018). In particular, acts and incidence of violence have been alarming during parliamentary by-elections at the constituency level, which often result in deaths, injuries, destruction of property, inter-party conflicts and social and communal tensions (National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), 2011; Myjoyonline.com, ...
... In spite of this regulation, there have been various reports of violent clashes involving the Azorka Boys and the Bolgatanga Bulldogs, known vigilante groups of the NDC and the NPP respectively. Sponsored by influential and leading members of political parties, these vigilante groups have been actively involved in acts of violence, assault, shooting and vandalism (Gyampo, 2017;Armah-Ato, 2017). In the conduct of by-elections, they move from one polling station to another to intimidate and/or scare their political opponents, including electorates, to flee from the polling stations. ...
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Electoral violence often perpetrated by political party vigilante groups in Ghana has been a major setback to Ghana's drive towards democratic maturity. In particular, acts and incidence of violence have been alarming during parliamentary by-elections at the constituency level, which have often led to major casualties like deaths, injuries, destruction of property, inter-party conflicts, as well as social and communal tensions. Yet, very little attention has been given to electoral violence and vigilantism during parliamentary by-elections. This study fills the gap by drawing on interviews, general observations, and archival sources to examine the causative factors for the persistence of parliamentary by-election violence, at the constituency level. The central questions addressed in the paper are: what is the motivation for the involvement of political party vigilante groups in parliamentary by-elections and associated conflicts?; what strategies do political parties use to mobilize vigilante groups during parliamentary by-elections; and what are the implications of parliamentary by-election conflicts for inter-party and communal relations, at the constituency level? The study concludes on the note that, the stakes are often high in the conduct of by-elections, as the whole concentration of the nation is deployed to small constituencies where such elections are held, culminating in a more pronounced activities of vigilante groups in such communities, during by-elections. It finally raises the question with regards to how to manage the rising incidence of vigilante group activities in the conduct of by-elections, and suggests this, as being the focus of any future research activity on political vigilantism in Ghana.
... Previous studies (Asamoah, 2020;Bob-Milliar, 2014a;Gyampo et al., 2017;Rasmussen, 2020) have not reached any consensus as to the understanding of vigilantism. Generally, vigilantism is claimed to be primarily a violent, extra-legal action by a group of persons (Abrahams, 1998). ...
... The focus is on political vigilante groups associated with the NPP and NDC. Political vigilante groups associated with these political parties were selected because they were the only parties with such groups in Ghana (Gyampo et al., 2017). The political vigilante groups of the NDC and NPP are concentrated mainly in the capital cities of the regions. ...
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Literature on political vigilante groups has centred on the violence and conflict that emanate from their activities. This article approaches political vigilante groups as political actors who engage in political mobilisation and participation and therewith also contribute to nation state building. It explores how such groups participate in Ghana's democratic governance and asks whether violence is an inevitable characteristic. The article builds on individual in-depth interviews and focus group discussions with political vigilante group members in Kumasi and Tamale in 2019. Findings show that political vigilante "youth" appeared to refer primarily to the social position attributed to non-elite groups in the political field. Political vigilante groups are multi-faceted in their organisational structures, membership, and activities both during electoral campaigns and during governing periods. While some groups revert to violence occasionally, the study concludes that political vigilante groups, in enabling different voices to be heard, are also contributing to democratic governance.
... Previous studies (Asamoah, 2020;Bob-Milliar, 2014a;Gyampo et al., 2017;Rasmussen, 2020) have not reached any consensus as to the understanding of vigilantism. Generally, vigilantism is claimed to be primarily a violent, extra-legal action by a group of persons (Abrahams, 1998). ...
... The focus is on political vigilante groups associated with the NPP and NDC. Political vigilante groups associated with these political parties were selected because they were the only parties with such groups in Ghana (Gyampo et al., 2017). The political vigilante groups of the NDC and NPP are concentrated mainly in the capital cities of the regions. ...
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Full-text available
Literature on political vigilante groups has centred on the violence and conflict that emanate from their activities. This article approaches political vigilante groups as political actors who engage in political mobilisation and participation and therewith also contribute to nation state building. It explores how such groups participate in Ghana’s democratic governance and asks whether violence is an inevitable characteristic. The article builds on individual in-depth interviews and focus group discussions with political vigilante group members in Kumasi and Tamale in 2019. Findings show that political vigilante “youth” appeared to refer primarily to the social position attributed to non-elite groups in the political field. Political vigilante groups are multi-faceted in their organisational structures, membership, and activities both during electoral campaigns and during governing periods. While some groups revert to violence occasionally, the study concludes that political vigilante groups, in enabling different voices to be heard, are also contributing to democratic governance.
... At the same time, the borderline theme is the phenomenon of political violence from these groups of the population. This, in particular, is devoted to works related to the modern political process of Ghana (Gyampo et al., 2017;Kyei & Berckmoes, 2021). ...
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... Another area of concern to scholars recently is the influence of political party vigilante groups on elections in Ghana. Scholars who have written about this subject concord that vigilantism poses a threat to Ghana's electoral politics [27,15,28]. Others have extensively explored the winnertakes-all politics and how that led to the acrimonious atmosphere during Ghanaian elections [29][30]. ...
... Reinforcing this point, Ghana is dealing with a proliferation of militia groups with names such as 'Azorka Boys', 'Delta Force', 'Invincible Forces', 'Kandahar', and 'Bamba Boys' (Gyampo et al. 2017). These creations are used by political patrons affiliated with Ghana's two main political parties, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC), for political advantage, and to disrupt law and order. ...
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Political extremism and rebel movements are not events. They are, instead, the outcomes of long dynamic processes involving oppressive governance structures of symbolic and systemic violence against citizens and communities. These processes and structures are the political contexts from which jihadist groups such as Al-Shabaab, Boko Haram, and Jamā'at Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen emerge. Against this background, this article reviews four constitutive elements of political extremism: grievances, networks, legitimating ideologies, and local contexts. It argues that we can, and should, think of the potential for political extremism within African countries in terms of the degree to which these elements are available to serve as motivation, justification, opportunity, and capacity for political extremism.
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Consensually united elites are said to be very rare and as such limit the possibility for the spread of liberal democracy across the world. In Africa, Ghana presents itself as a case in point, not only because it is one of the most democratic countries in Africa but also the fact that political elites have been accorded the force behind this success. The study therefore examines the place of elite consensus in Ghana’s political landscape by examining the political parties, elections, the legislature and national development planning in the fourth republic. This analysis was made based on a wealth of knowledge provided by numerous scholars on the topic of elite consensus and how this concept is connected to democratic development. Within the Ghanaian political dispensation, based on some operational benchmarks, this study adopted self-perceptions expressed in qualitative, in-depth interviews with a limited number of political party executives, think-tanks, parliamentarians, civil servants and National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) officials. The study found out that political elites in Ghana are very united and as such depicts a horizontal integration of elites as explained by Higley and Burton. This has accounted for Ghana’s envious democratic strides. However, this consensus is only on issues affecting elites and not the citizens which are particularly indicative in Ghana’s legislature and national development planning since the start of the fourth republic. This finding goes against Higley and Burton’s vertically integrated elitism, which suggests a great cohesion between elites and the masses. This then confirms the hypothesis of the study which states that Ghana lacks an enduring elite consensus which has negatively affected national development. In light of these conclusions, the study prescribes some remedies in solving Ghana’s deficits on elite consensus towards national development in the long-run. They include having a third force in Ghana’s political arena, some constitutional amendments, effective civic education, procuring a national agenda on national development planning and effective conflict resolution mechanisms.
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Democracy under any system of rule is associated with vibrant political parties and credible elections. Both are indispensable in a representative democracy. The good conduct of elections within a political party promotes and consolidates democracy. Political parties in Ghana have suffered internal conflict resulting in factions, break-away, and the formation of new parties because of undemocratic party operations especially in the conduct of primaries. This act threatens the country’s attempt to consolidate its democracy. Internal party reforms are adopted to ensure democratic practices and operations. The reforms include widening the electoral base of the party in the selection of candidates, simultaneous conduction of polls across constituencies, and restriction of candidates eligible for elections. These reforms are to reduce vote-buying, intimidation, physical assault, and fierce competition to enhance legitimisation of election results and the acceptability of candidates. The paper assessed how the various reforms adopted by the two major political parties in Ghana have influenced and legitimised the conduct of presidential primaries. The paper adopted a qualitative research design through interviews and reviewed extant literature to set the theoretical basis of the study. It is realised that the operationalisation of the reforms in 2014 and 2019 of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC), respectively, has reduced the rancour associated hitherto with primaries. This exercise has gone a long way in consolidating democracy with a peaceful conduct of presidential primaries notwithstanding vestiges of vote-buying, security breaches, party executive biases, and high party nomination fees.
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Ghana's twenty-nine-year-old democracy has passed three 'turnover' tests. Though indicative of a consolidating democracy, there is a consistent increase of low intensity electoral violence. The perpetrators of such political violence are politicians acting through vigilante groups affiliated to their political parties. This paper seeks to unravel the puzzle why vigilante-perpetrated electoral violence rises even as Ghana's democracy consolidates. To answer this, the article utilizes the results of Afrobarometer survey rounds five and seven, data from Countries at Risk of Electoral Violence, and Bob-Milliar's disaggregate data of electoral violence in Ghana. By a times series analysis, elections were categorized into two cases according to trends in attacks on institutions around elections. Based on this, the hypothesis, "the higher the opposition's expected benefit of the use of vigilantism, the more electoral violence irrespective the stage of democracy" was tested. Then, the most similar systems design was used to study the relationship between independent economic, institutional, and political culture and actor variables and the dependent variable of democratic consolidation across both cases. The results indicate that vigilante attacks on institutions are more frequent around 'turnover' elections. This can be explained if considered that it is a rational behaviour of opposition political actors to attain power at all cost. These political choices have gained root in the absence of a critical mass against it. The danger is that vigilante activities after these elections inform a negative perception about crucial institutions such as the executive (the Presidency and the Ghana Police Service), the judiciary and the legislature. Thus, democracy suffers declining support amongst some Ghanaians. To eliminate political vigilantism in Ghana's democracy, more Ghanaians need to engage in political discourses to attain the critical mass that forces political actors to make democracy consolidating decisions, including disbanding all vigilante groups in Ghana.
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This paper presents findings from a study of political violence by party youth wings in sub-Sahara African polities from 1990 to date. Using a case study of Ghana, the research draws some similarities, and or differences in the mechanisms through which youth wings perpetrate violence across other parts of the sub-region. During the December 2016 general elections in Ghana, the aggressive role of party youth wings was very visible, and calls for policy attention. Due to the high stakes involved in wining or retaining state power in Africa, politicians value the organizational abilities of their respective youth groups. However, youth wings in most polities rather engage in aggressive political activities including, vandalizing public property, rioting/violent protests, seizer and control over facilities of public good, militias/vigilantism and electoral violence. And these acts thwart democratic advancement. Drawing on over four years of participant observation in Ghana; extensive analysis of media political discourse across Africa; and relevant secondary data, the author argues that though youth wings are meant to contribute positively to democratic consolidation through peaceful and democratic activities with their mother parties, they mostly rather engage in aggressive, violent politics, annulling the expectation of constructive contribution from the demographic majority in the continent. And this violent politics is generally due to their systemic exclusion from core political and democratic processes by their respective parties. These incendiary acts are catalyzed by increasing youth unemployment; weak institutions or unprofessional state agents; illegitimate electoral systems; political manipulation of social cleavages, and history of violence in societies all mired in patronage political system.
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The youth of Ghana have played an important role in both local and national politics since the inception of the Fourth Republic. Among other things, they have served as the foot-soldiers and channels through which party manifestoes have been transmitted to the electorate and polling agents during registration and voting exercises. Through chanting of their party slogans and house-to house campaign, the youth have often made the presence of their various parties felt across the country. In developed democracies, one key factor that motivates the youth in playing active role in politics is political ideology. This is because political ideology largely shapes the political future of the youth, especially students in tertiary institutions. Unfortunately, a brief survey shows that political ideology, though relevant, contributes little in whipping up support for political parties among the youth. The article discusses the reasons for the seeming irrelevance of political ideology among the youth. It recommends massive campaign by political parties to educate the youth on their respective political ideologies, their relevance and the need to uphold them. It also stresses the need for party leaders themselves to insist on ideological purity in all their dealings with other parties to serve as an example for the youth to emulate. © Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa, 2012.
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The article proposes a systems-theoretical approach to political clientelism. It places political clientelism in the theoretical framework of a democratic political system characterized by internal differentiation in government and bureaucracy, party politics and a politically relevant public. Against the background of existing research on the link between democracy and political clientelism, it uses Luhmann’s concept of power and more specifically his model of the formal and the informal power cycle to point out parallels and differences between a political system based on expectations with regard to policies and a political system in which clientelistic expectations prevail. Democratic political systems are based on formal, legally codified power and informal power. Clientelistic power is a special form of informal power affecting this interplay, as the example of democratization in Mexico shows. Political systems with clientelistic expectations differ from those with a policy orientation with regard to the complexity of policies, the generalization of political support, the bases for personalization, the pattern of interest articulation and the most prominent external influences on the system.
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Since the inception of Ghana’s fourth attempt at constitutional democracy in 1992, third parties have performed abysmally in the nation’s electoral politics. The quest and hope for a third force in Ghanaian electoral politics has always been dashed after every election. This article places the electoral performance of third parties in Ghana’s Fourth Republic under microscopic view and interrogates the nature of their pitiable electoral performance, and its implications on Ghana’s multiparty electoral democracy. The paper analytically demonstrates the progressive decline of third parties’ electoral output despite their active participation in both presidential and parliamentary elections. It argues that, although third parties’ electoral fortunes appear utterly gloomy, showing no realistic chance of forming government, they augment Ghana’s multiparty democratic politics. In order to make any meaningful incursion and impact in Ghanaian electoral politics, the paper will recommend the need for third parties with shared political ideology to reorganize under a uniform umbrella to become more electorally competitive in the future.
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