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The NDC Congress And The Aftermath   
 
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08-Jul-2011  
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Fantasy aside, winning an election takes a lot of hard work, planning, resources, campaigning and a lot of committed people (sometimes with very divergent views) coming together to execute a plan which delivers the votes.

In this respect, the vote that restored the National Democratic Congress (NDC) to power in Ghana at the last general elections should not be seen as a fluke nor should it be considered an individual effort which can easily be replicated.

In assigning credit for our win, it can be pretty tempting to overlook the collective individual effort of the rank and file of the party without whose vote and commitment the party would never have been in power today. That said, current developments in the party seem to detract from this fact and with the party heading for its national delegates congress over the weekend, this seems to be just the appropriate time to raise certain issues that have been on the minds of everyone in the party.

To set the stage and without trying to be controversial, let me right off say that the public perception of the current state of affairs between the founding father of the NDC, former President J. J. Rawlings and incumbent President and Leader of the party, Prof. John Atta-Mills, does not augur well for party unity and the continued retention of the NDC in power. And jokes apart, there is too much at stake for us to stand aside for personal considerations to rob us of a win at the polls.

Now, because I am personally not privy to the details of the actual nature of the problems between the two highly respected individuals, I am going to try to steer clear of anything that might suggest inside information or could be construed by either side as taking sides. The case I make is from the point of view of a concerned party member and patriotic Ghanaian who thinks Ghana has come too far to stand aside and allow ill-conceived score settling derail further progress.

The first premise of my article is as follows: Ghana deserves good governance and even from afar it is clear the current NDC government broadly speaking, is doing all the right things. More than that, things that the people of Ghana appreciate as necessary for a thriving functional democracy are being put in place to strengthen our democratic traditions. This is something no one should trifle with. In the two years plus since this government has been in place, it has shown a willingness to adhere to the principle of separation of powers and has re-established the rule of law in the country as a cardinal governance principle which it has consistently upheld as necessary and important prerequisite in any functioning democracy.

My understanding is that much of the scathing criticism that have come the way of the President and his team stems from the fact that no convictions were returned by the government in corruption charges leveled against some members of ex- President Kufour’s government . Sure enough, that can only be frustrating to anyone only if, they are privy to facts which have not been presented in court. My view is if there is incontrovertible evidence relating to any of these cases, the courts are the right place to air them. And only the courts have our mandate as a people, to determine such cases.

In order not to undermine the character of the rule of law that this government has toiled to establish in our country President Atta-Mills and his team have been at much pain not to be seen as interfering with the course of justice and personal or partisan interest aside, any case before the courts have to be seen to have been adjudicated solely on the basis of applicable existing laws. There shall not be one set of laws for any group of people and another for the rest of the people. The laws of our country must be seen to be applied uniformly without fear or favor.

Proving corruption after the fact is one of the most difficult things the world over and the perception of corruption is not necessarily the same thing as being corrupt. As a Ghanaian, I have often been shamed by how quickly we have tarnished the image of fellow Ghanaians with unsubstantiated corruption charges. In the national interest, it is time we put a stop to this kind of thing. It is robbing us of the service of many well meaning and capable Ghanaians who today find public service pretty abhorrent.

What we as a party and as a people should aim for is for our government to establish systems of accountability and transparency which place a responsibility on the individual to do what is right. Our failure as a nation in this respect cannot entirely be blamed on the Atta-Mills government. All our previous governments have to share the blame because had they done a good job of establishing accountability and transparency, we would not today be questioning court rulings. As we go to congress, the NDC has to responsibility to the people of Ghana to ensure that an agenda for establishing the rule of law in the country is not hijacked by vigilante justice.

Clearly another bone of contention that has surfaced in the public domain relates to who leads the party into the next elections. News reports are that the founder’s wife Nana Konadu Agyemang-Rawlings has resigned her position as Vice Chair of the party to contest the mantle of Leadership of the party. This in itself is not news because it has long been speculated that she would one day stand. What is more, she is entirely within her legitimate constitutional and democratic rights as a Ghanaian and an NDC member, to put herself forward if she thinks she has the leadership qualities required to lead the party to victory at the polls. . What is disconcerting about all this however is that this comes at a time when public perception is that things are not well between her husband, J. J. Rawlings and President Atta-Mills. Now let me play the devil’s advocate and look at the matter dispassionately.

Nana Konadu is not to be mistaken for her husband and it is entirely possible that this could be the one issue they diverge on as husband and wife. That is one extreme of the spectrum of possibilities, the other extreme being that she has the full support and backing of her husband. The odds that Jerry and Nana Konadu diverge on this issue however is pretty slim so let me focus on the other extreme. As an analyst, the first question that comes to mind is what calculation might have gone into the decision to declare? Is it strategic, tactical or both?

Our innate nature for gossip as Ghanaians seems to have robbed us of a critical look at all the issues involved. Clearly Jerry couldn’t possibly be staging a come back as I am sure that even he knows that there comes a time when the welcome guest has overstayed his hospitality. So then what are the actual cornerstones of their decision to put Nana Konadu out there? Suggestions are that all the breakaway factions of the party have returned to the fold so what constituency is this declaration catering to at a time when the party has never been more united? In my naďveté, I can only think of this whole thing as a tactical play for power which has two goals: one, to test the waters and two, to set the stage for a future undefined objective.

Now assuming this is a play for power? What might be the considerations here? A large dissatisfied section of the population which feels under represented and even left out of decision making? Or is it based on solid groundwork indicating a preference for the particular candidate or what? My guess is that it is none of the above. Because of that I dare say that this whole thing has more to do with a future undefined goal. The congress offers the opportunity to start laying down the pieces for what will evolve over time.

If I must conjecture, the pair Jerry and Nana Konadu are both seasoned campaigners and nothing they do must be taken for granted. Currently in Ghana, maybe only three individuals have what you might describe as a “block vote”. And by block vote, I mean these are people who have mass appeal and attract or can attract mass vote for no rational reason. One of those people is Jerry Rawlings and the other is his wife. These two have following among the people of Ghana which belies the actual impact of their actions. One because of his passionate stands on what affects the poor and under privileged and the other because of the work she has done with women.

Yet, these two remain among the most polarizing of figures in Ghanaian politics and I am sure their background in Ghana politics would give them much fodder to ponder over before trying to unseat an apparently popular sitting President Factoring this into the equation, my conclusion is that the launch of a bid by Nana Konadu at a time that she cannot absolutely be certain to win easily may only be a tactic to strengthen her negotiating position on some issue/s of concern to Jerry and her within the party.

My hope is that I am right on this because barring that then the party has to contend with two highly placed disgruntled operatives who could undo everything that has been achieved to date. My appeal is that both sides will come to the realization that personal convictions are not what are at stake. And that the nation supersedes the party.

Issues, even at the party level, must be dealt with in a national context and for us in the NDC what works for the country as a whole should precede party considerations. I use this forum to urgently implore his Excellency Jerry John Rawlings to re-evaluate his role as a respected statesman and ask himself if what he wants for Ghana will be well served by backing his wife to unseat President Atta-Mills whom he hand-picked for his great individual qualities and whom he trudged all corners of the country to have elected.

That said, let me turn my attention to the incumbent and his posse, gratitude comes in many shades and colors but it does not include biting the finger that nurtured you. No matter how you look at it, Jerry is the reason why anyone who is anybody in Ghana today is who he/she is. All the technocrats who have more or less catapulted into high offices today should remember: it takes only a vote to rearrange their positions and I say this with more intimate knowledge than might be conjectured. The “voice of the people, they say is the voice of the people”.

Governmental agenda cannot be devoid of an agenda to serve the people and by people I do not mean party members, friends, sponsors or cronies I mean the broader populace, the disenfranchised, the under privileged, the unemployed, the hungry, the orphaned and everyone who constitutes the state. It has been said that at the overthrow of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah of blessed memory, he lamented that he wished he had known that what was important to the people was “milk, sugar and sardine”. I say he might have known it if he had been listening to the people who voted him rather that his trusted advisors

At congress I hope that the incumbent will use the platform afforded him to reassure Ghanaians that he represents all shades and colors, and that Ghana and Ghanaians come first. He might also use the opportunity to admonish the younger crop of party leaders to give respect where it is due, more than that this Congress should see the party emerging as one monolithic unit ready to win the elections and to work to serve the people of Ghana.

Even in all the cacophony, strategy will trump funding. My wish is that all the factions of the party will suspend acrimony and work together on a single strategy to bring about the easy re-election of President Atta-Mills. As far as Nana Konadu’s bid is concerned, I hope she comes to the realization that this is not her time more than that I hope that she will place her resources at the disposal of the party to make possible a win at the polls. That in my view will strengthen her bargaining position.

For this government and any other government that may come after it, they need to realize that the challenge that Ghana and all other African countries face is bringing their people into a new century which has so significantly changed everything we are familiar with in just the span of a decade and is set to continue changing. Ghana cannot compete if it cannot align itself to take advantage of the new and emerging technologies out there. The NDC owes it to the people of Ghana to install a modernization program at the same time that it dismantles time honored ways of doing things. This is a challenge that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

The exponential growth of knowledge experienced over the last couple of decades demands that we get our act together and place ourselves at the confluence of knowledge acquisition, knowledge integration and utilization and knowledge development. This is the challenge that the NDC and all of the opposition should seek to address in the years to come.

Also the parties in Ghana have to come to the realization that politics is not mortal combat or belligerence. The opposition is not the enemy( for Christ’s sake they are countrymen) with differing views. Debate of view points is what crystallizes them into great ideas and we in Ghana have now got to learn this lesson and stop demonizing people with different shades of opinion from us. The half baked intellectuals who have been going on air to incite factional sentiments need now evaluate whether winning an election at all cost is worth it. Entrenched positions and view points are no longer tenable in running countries. It is negotiated consensus building which characterizes the countries that are making it today and we in Ghana need to learn this lesson in order to remain relevant in the scheme of things worldwide.

To conclude, I expect the NDC congress to set an example for the rest of Ghana by selecting a consensus candidate and I expect the party to take leadership in uniting Ghanaians behind a common agenda which meets the aspirations of the people of Ghana.
 
 
Source: Djamson, Francis J.
 
 

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