Folks, I have been enjoying the exchanges going on between Jerry John Rawlings (and his supporters) and his opponents in the NDC. Truth be told, such exchanges open wide windows for us to see the future of the NDC without the Rawlingses. Those who think that the NDC will be reduced to nothing without the Rawlingses had better think twice.
Political parties that seek to remain vibrant don’t remain rooted to the kind of personality cult that the Rawlingses have sought to establish. They pursue more self-sustaining objectives than what Rawlings and his wife have inflicted on the NDC. As mortal beings, they will definitely go the way all mortals go. The political party can outlast them if properly nurtured.
That is why I like the challenges being thrown to Jerry Rawlings by vocal elements in the NDC disagreeing with him and challenging him to do better than he has done so far. The party should rank higher than his personal quests. What could be more reasonable than this simple position?
In that sense, let us boldly say here that all the exchanges that have taken on Rawlings meet my expectation. I base my stance on what specifically has come from Dr. Valerie Sawyer and Dr. Obed Asamoah, which I will explore in this opinion piece. The foundational issues is that the NDC claims to be a conglomeration of various political ideologies—whatever that means—with the fundamental objective of placing Ghana and the poor people first. (That’s a cue from the June Four era and the PNDC led by Rawlings). Bringing in politicians from varying ideological traditions for Ghana’s good is laudable.
Thus, Rawlings could pool together politicians from the mainstream Nkrumahist and Danquah-Busia cultures (former President Kufuor and A.A. Munufie and many others together with others from elsewhere) to help him prosecute his agenda when he ruled as military leader and a civilian President before leaving the scene because of constitutional constraints.
Trans-ideological politicians of Dr. Asamoah’s type have a home in the NDC because the NDC has boasted of being a “Congress” of people not tied to any specific die-hard political ideology. That is why it has embraced elements from the main ideological camps in Ghana’s political history, namely, the Nkrumahist, Danquah-Busia, Rawlings or any other.
They have been together since the Rawlings phenomenon dislodged the mainstream Nkrumahist and Danquah-Busia strands that are recognized as the two main political camps in Ghana. Even though disparate political parties have emerged from these two camps, touting whatever might catch voters, they have been bold enough to stick to their root.
Thus, the emergence of the Rawlings phenomenon as a third force in Ghanaian politics changed the paradigm, especially since the NDC has dominated the scene despite losing Elections 2000, 2004, and 2016. It is still a threat to its arch rival, the NPP. The Nkrumahist camp is a mere shadow to be pitied, especially now that its main activists are snuggling to either the NPP or the NDC for sustenance (more materially than politically).
In this sense, then, it is obvious that the NDC is a potent political force to be watched closely despite its own internal problems, which aren’t new in the context of the exchanges going on between Rawlings and his supporters, on the one hand, and his critics, on the other hand. I won’t lose any sleep over such exchanges or have any apprehension that it will lead to an implosion or the fragmentation of the NDC. Only those uninformed haters of the NDC will see happenings as a harbinger of the party’s collapse.
Over the years, the NDC has tested itself with such internal crises and survived to confound its opponents. Could it be the defection of some of its main members to the Danquah-Busia camp (Alhaji B.A. Fuseini, Madam Frances Essiam, and Maame Dokuno on my mind here) or the splitting away by others to form political parties (such as Goosie Tanoh’s National Reform Party and Dr. Asamoah’s Democratic Freedom Party) to undermine it? What happened in the end? Goosie Tanoh and Dr. Asamoah returned to base to prove that the NDC couldn’t easily lose its attraction just because of petty personal differences.
Take the major test that the party faced when it sought to put Rawlings where he belonged by divesting him of his status as “Founder and Father” of the party. Many things happened that lazy political commentators loudly proclaimed as the end of the party. What happened?
Rawlings went where he was expected to go, carrying along with him his baggage of anger, enmity, bitterness, and whatever; but he couldn’t cut himself free from the umbilical cord tying him to the product of his own political struggles. He grudgingly acknowledged the fact that he had lost his stranglehold on the party even if he won’t let sleeping dogs lie.
Instead, he drifted about, refusing to cut links with the NDC even as he bowed to pressure from his wife to identify with her Democratic Freedom Party. In truth, ever since Nana Konadu Agyemang-Rawlings tempted the Fates to form the NDP, she has thrown Rawlings into the centre of a whirlwind that has stunned him to the extent that he can’t see things right to know where he belongs politically.
His bowing to the Akufo-Addo entreaties to wage “war” against his own political camp (the NDC) proves where he is now as a confused cry-baby. All the noise he made against the NDC under ex-Presidents Mills and Mahama registered as instances of vengeance, not as marks of someone who really knew what was at stake. Whatever he contributed to the NDC’s defeat at Election 2016 is rebounding now to hit him in the face. That is why the reaction of those taking him on now turn my crank.
For far too long, Rawlings and his wife have dared the devil and gone away scot-free. Their public utterances have portrayed them as people who think that without them, nothing can go on in Ghana.
Rawlings’ vitriol against ex-President Kufuor explains why there is still a terribly bad-blood relationship between them. Move on to what Rawlings did to the late “Asomdwehene” Atta Mills, someone whom he co-opted into mainstream Ghanaian politics only to turn into a whipping boy. All that Rawlings did to Prof. Mills has damaged the NDC in many ways. Why would he do so if, indeed, he had any love for the very political tradition that he struggled to establish in the hope that it would survive long after his death?
(Here, let us reiterate our strong opinion that political parties that seek to remain vibrant are not built this way if they are to outlast the memory of their founders. As has emerged so far, it is clear that Rawlings and his wife see the NDC as their pet baby and they must be allowed to nurture it the way they want to. Indeed, that’s the height of political waywardness, especially if we turn to the traditional definition of a “political party”.)
I shall return.
The opinions expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views or have the endorsement of the Editorial Board of www.africanewsanalysis.com and www.zongonews.com