GHANA: Why is the NDC always crying foul? Part I – An analysis by Dr Michael J.K. Bokor

The writer, Dr Michael J.K. Bokor
For many years now, activists of the NDC have pointed accusing fingers at all manner of people and organizations as being against the party and aligning with their arch-rivals (the NPP) to ditch it.

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The latest in the series of such accusations has come from Felix Ofosu Kwakye, a member of the communications team of the NDC. He said on Asempa FM’s Ekosii Sen programme on Wednesday August 17, 2011, that IMANI Ghana, CDD, IEA, and other policy think tanks in the country are allies of the NPP and that they are set to prosecute an agenda to discredit and run down the Mills-led administration ahead of the 2012 elections.

Kwakye said these civil society groups do not create a level playing field for all political parties but exhibit double standards and criticize any decision by the government to the advantage of the NPP.

Reaction to Kwakye’s allegation was prompt. Franklin Cudjoe, Executive Director of IMANI Ghana (a policy think tank), for instance, took matters to facebook (the social network site), where he described Kwakye as “an advanced bootlicker and a mere useful idiot.” I am not interested in the insult but rather what caused it.
Such allegations seem to have become the NDC’s incurable disease, which exposes the party to ridicule and portrays it as paranoid. Is the NDC, then, splitting its own hair?

Although the pro-NPP newspaper (The New Statesman) has commented on this finger-pointing penchant of the NDC activists, I don’t think that it exhaustively unpacked issues as one expected; hence, my decision to look more deeply into the matter I have one main objective—to let the NDC activists know the extent to which their finger-pointing is adversely affecting their party’s interests instead of attracting sympathy toward its cause.

By merely accusing institutions and people of being in bed with the NPP without identifying the cause for such an alliance (if it exists even), the NDC activists expose themselves to needless scorn. I want to raise three main questions to set the tone for my analysis of the issue.

What is it about the NPP that makes it more attractive to these institutions and their activists for them to align with against the NDC? Again, why is it difficult for them to gravitate toward the NDCnstead?
What is it about the NDC that repels them?

These are fundamental questions that those NDC followers pointing accusing fingers all over the place should be addressing instead of making silly utterances of the sort that provoked Franklin Cudjoe into joining the queue of those using intemperate language (insults) to give our politics a bad name.

No sermon on the moral aspects of that kind of politicking will be delivered here; but it is worth mentioning that democratically, it is not respectable. It is an act of bad faith that weighs against the party responsible for it. Unless such a party’s functionaries have a retarded sense of democracy, they will be better off avoiding that line of politicking.

Each political party is expected to weigh national politics (including the part it plays in it) on a wider scale than the party’s own scale of values.

That is why it is politically suicidal not to leave party building to the hoodlum segment of the membership who allow their brawn (raw macho mentality) instead of their brains to drive their activities. As we can tell from the recent widespread display of indiscipline by those in the NDC calling themselves “foot-soldiers” of the party, any tendency to portray the party as undisciplined will not entice new members or sympathizers into it. So also will any ill-thought-of official action to undermine that very segment not help the party retain their support. That is the NDC’s fundamental problem.

The politics of antagonism and alienation that is undergirded and catalyzed by a rash recourse to physical strength won’t help the NDC’s cause. Unfortunately, however, that is the norm. We all know the genesis of the NDC and shouldn’t be surprised that the issue of “raw power” prevails in its affairs. Ironically, then, the NDC’s own historical roots appear to be turning round to shackle it.

Threats of “I will show you where power lies” and the use of political connections to seek revenge won’t help the party grow. It will only sink it all the more and provide evidence for its detractors to confirm their misgivings against it as a violent party not worth following.

I really need a flourish of trumpets to emphasize the point. There must be something going on in the NDC that doesn’t position it to rope in those that the NDC activists are accusing of being in bed with the NPP. It’s up to them to look for that basic cause of repulsion and to tackle it to change the situation instead of this wolf-crying campaign. This is not to say that I condone any failure or refusal on the part of NGOs or civil society organizations to be politically neutral as required.
The question is: Would the NDC have complained had any such institution given it its goodwill?

Regardless, both the NDC and NPP are poles apart in several respects. History splits the NPP from the NDC; and for any activist of either party to fully understand why both are at each other’s throat, that historical imperative must be recognized and factored into the jockeying for public goodwill.

In nature and spirit, the NPP is older than the NDC. It is rooted in a political culture pre-dating Ghana’s independence and can boast of an ideology informed by the ideals and aspirations of the founding fathers of that political culture, namely, Dr. J.B. Danquah, Dr. K.A. Busia, and S.D. Dombo (not to mention other numerous traditions rooted in the “Mate Me Ho” activism).

The NPP has a fundamental advantage over the NDC. Its Danquah/Busia/Dombo political culture is different from whatever undergirds the NDC’s political consciousness. This is where the problem of personality cult comes in to negate the NDC’s and CPP’s politics, both having come across as personality-centered. What will be the NDC without Rawlings or the CPP without Nkrumahism? That’s why the current struggle in the NDC to lessen the Rawlings factor is tearing the party apart to the likely advantage of the NPP. The CPP can’t exploit Nkrumah’s legacy anymore because the current crop of voters have no connection with the personality of Nkrumah.

The Danquah/Busia/Dombo political culture has survived the whirligig of Ghana politics (being in the opposition for 30 years before Fate smiled on it in the 2000 elections), aided by one important political imperative. It is not built on any personality cult but ideals fashioned on a so-called liberal democracy that manifests in the slogan of “property-owning democracy.” That was why the party was able to bring together all the various segments that had splintered at the 1979 general elections to make it viable in the 4th Republic. The CPP hasn’t been able to do so and the NDC risks falling apart if its house collapses on it or if it loses the 2012 elections.

Now, let’s see why the rivalry between the NPP and the NDC is unavoidable. Here again, history provides the lesson. In the bitter politics of the 1950s and post-independence era, the United Party (worth regarding as the political bastion of all the political parties tracing their source to the Danquah/Busia/Dombo tradition) had one political opponent—Nkrumah and his CPP—and did everything, including recourse to terrorism, to undermine the Nkrumah government.

Vicious campaigns were also mounted to destroy the personality and image of Nkrumah himself, which combined with Nkrumah’s own miscalculation to cause his overthrow and demise. So powerful was the demonization campaign against Nkrumah that to date, his legacy hardly appeals to the electorate (even though other factors are responsible for the mess in which the current pro-Nkrumahist political parties find themselves).

It is not difficult to establish that in our current political dispensation in the 4th Republic, the NPP (representing all that its forebears had put together) regards the NDC the same way the United Party did Nkrumah and his CPP. Now, the NDC has replaced Nkrumah’s CPP and shouldn’t expect LOVE from the NPP. Constructing the NDC as its nemesis, the NPP seems poised to do to the NDC what its forebears had done to the CPP. It is, therefore, unrelenting in taking a leaf from its political antecedent to confront the NDC’s threat to its quest to dominate Ghanaian politics, using the 2012 elections as the springboard.

Continued in the next installment…

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