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Election Diaries: Events in Talensi and Bimbilla – The faces of Political Banditry and Hard Core Poverty

Elections signify the social contract that exist between the elected and the governed to exchange ideas on how to build a prosperous society for all.

By Franklin Cudjoe | 2016 Elections Ghana

Elections are supposed to be the most civilized  way to get leaders for a people. They emphasize the arrival of a people to order in a hitherto chaotic and perhaps illegal dispensation. Elections signify the social contract that exist between the elected and the governed to exchange ideas on how to build a prosperous society for all.

In parliamentary and presidential systems of government, all law makers are elected and their functions are simply to make sensible laws even if their numbers favour a ruling government. This is why the calibre of representation each electoral area or constituency puts up should not be taken for granted.

For the above to happen, elections  must be held in an atmosphere of calm and civility. And by-elections are not excluded! Orderly conduct should not be compromised simply because a win in a bye election supposedly signifies a potential big win in an upcoming major election.

The by-election in Talesni was just the opposite. From an overnight injection of infrastructure projects than would be normal, sharing of freebies, unusual state armory and uncultured vigilantes, the stage was set for a brawl that potentially will  see the people of Talensi cowered even as they exercise their democratic right. Some of the lunatic fringe engaged in mayhem which would later be put down by the military. At least two minority parties that contested the poll have indicated they will challenge the outcome of the poll in court.

I am convinced that the Talensi vote was not held freely and fairly. The rule of law must prevail at all times whilst the economic needs of a people are not only addressed during elections. Indeed one cannot preach the rule of law to empty stomachs, but the stomachs must be fed with well nourished foods. Civil society must ensure that citizens are alive to their civic rights and responsibilities and under no circumstance should they mortgage votes for dubious politicians .

Whilst we were reeling under the dreadful cacophony of political justifications for the odd outcome in Talensi, another infamy was underway in Bimbilla!

Bimbilla was to be the next grounds for the show of force over royalties. Apparently some subjects of an over lord decided not to pay homage in the form of meat to the regent. I would imagine that even if there were reasonable grounds to deny the regent his due, it should have been communicated in a manner that will not draw blood! That said, the regent should understand that we are living in hard times and such imposition may be very difficult to meet by any one paying a tax to the state.

It would be important for the ministry of chieftaincy together with all kings and chiefs to review all our traditional laws to identify those that need abrogation and those that need fine tuning so we will be in accord with civility. It is reprehensible to learn that some parts of Ghana still practice slavery. Yet still others engage in death-inviting acts such as fire eating at fire festivals to outright magic. All of such are the epitome of poverty of progressive ideas. If the people of Bimbilla had very progressive minded representatives , we will not have reached this level of banditry ! The 2016 elections must be held in an atmosphere of civility.

Franklin Cudjoe is Founding President and CEO of IMANI.


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