Security analyst Dr Kwesi Aning has urged parties to take disciplinary action against wayward members and leaders who use incendiary language during their campaigns ahead of the upcoming elections.
The Director of Faculty Affairs and Research at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping and Training Centre (KAIPTC) told Chief Jerry Forson on Accra100.5FM’s breakfast show, Ghana Yensom, that politics was about “shared values, shared norms and shared principles”, however, the two major parties – the governing National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) – need to discipline their members whose actions seemed to cause “disaffection and fear”.
“So, I would rather the party disciplinary committees cracked the whip because for the ordinary Ghanaian, if parties are able to discipline their members and even the…leadership in terms of their public utterances and behaviour, it will clean up our politics and make our politics much more of an ideas-based, ideas-driven kind of engagement,” he said.
Dr Aning’s comments follow a remark by Assin Central Member of Parliament, Kennedy Agyapong, to the effect that Mrs Charlotte Osei was appointed to the position of chairperson of the Electoral Commission of Ghana (EC) after offering sex. The comment has been criticised by several leading figures in the country, as well as women groups and political analysts, who say it could hamper his party’s chances of winning the 2016 elections.
According to Dr Aning, language, being a medium of expression, was crucial to the kind of politics done in the country, and some political figures had taken to employing abusive diction – insults, unsubstantiated allegations, and falsehood, among others – to propagate their agenda. Dr Aning explained that such language over time fed into the sub-conscience of supporters, which could trigger mob action against opponents of such politicians later.
The academic added that incendiary language “creates a fertile ground for mob action and mob behaviour” and there was the need, therefore, for leaders or politicians to be conscious of the fact that such comments could lead to disturbances in the country.
“By virtue of our failure to respond and to punish, we are seeing an escalation in the types and words of language and increasingly threatening behaviour from those, who ought to know better,” the security analyst said, adding that the issue “cuts across both parties”.
However, he said persons, who employed improper language on their political opponents, often ended up getting their reputation hit, and not those of the persons the invectives were directed at, and the effect is transmitted to their parties.
“That is what sometimes in Ghana’s politics we don’t seem to know or we don’t seem to recognise,” he continued. “So those in different parties who think they will behave in a certain way are disgracing their parties and soiling the party’s image and that is why the parties’ disciplinary committees must raise their voices and must punish to send a signal clearly to those at the grassroots that certain types of behaviour will not be tolerated.”
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