Ghanaian Democracy At Crossroads

The announcement by over 500 defectors from the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) into the camp of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), that the defectors had stolen at least two ballot boxes from the Tain constituency, in the Brong-Ahafo Region, on the instructions of local NDC party leaders in 2008, comes as rather pedestrian. Needless to say, it was always known that like most democracies, both advanced and fledgling, Ghana’s Election 2008 was anything but perfect.

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Still, whereas in most advanced democracies, such as the United States, ballot-rigging is often executed with deft and enviable technical finesse, in Ghana, as also in most Third-World countries, the crudity of it all is almost invariably manifested in the brutal beatings and crass intimidation of eligible voters in many parts of the country.

What makes the Tain allegation by Mr. Alidu Saeed, the leader of the defectors, quite remarkable is the fact that it provides concrete evidence in just one instance of an otherwise widespread practice (See “Blame NDC, Not Us; Tain Ballot Box Snatchers Proclaim” Daily Guide 8/22/10). And the fact that such practice does not seem to be the especial preserve of the NDC, per se, points to the imperative need for the Key operatives of the NPP to contain any exuberant tendency to feeling a false sense of moral superiority over their main political opponents.

Which is why it comes as rather quaint to hear Mr. Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, the NPP chairman, smugly and almost pontifically assert that members and supporters of the NPP “feel a sense of vindication” (See Ghanaian Chronicle/ 8/23/10). Actually, what the foregoing disturbingly confirms is that the NPP, as the ruling party in the lead-up to Election 2008, appears to have been too smug and sophomorically complacent to have deserved the victory that its followers and sympathizers so badly craved. And such complacency, on the part of a major ideological camp that was almost completely shut out of mainstream Ghanaian political culture for two decades, is very difficult to understand.

For one, the key operatives of the NPP appear to have woefully underestimated the power of media propaganda to grievously undermining even the most democratic, as well as productive, government in the history of postcolonial Ghana. Thus, the NPP leadership appeared to have recklessly and hopelessly banked on the average Ghanaian readily appreciating the unremittingly and unabashedly Darwinian practical thrust of a pseudo-Social Democratic NDC which shamelessly preached a plutocratic “cash-and-carry” agenda even while also, paradoxically, hoodwinking its harried and psychologically addled followers and sympathizers into mistaking the same for Napoleonic egalitarianism.

Anyway, the NDC General-Secretary’s call for the “Tain-500-Plus” group of ballot snatchers to be arrested “for openly declaring that they stole ballot boxes,” cannot be imbibed with seriousness, particularly since it also presupposes that our august judicial system could, somehow, clinically sanction the criminally culpable mouse of the NDC grassroots while unconscionably allowing the fat cat at the top-echelons to literally abscond with the loot.

In other words, should the “Tain-500-Plus” defectors be arraigned before a legitimately constituted court of law, then, it would also stand to reason that the NDC, as a political party and an ideological machine, ought to be equally sanctioned in some palpably deterrent form. In brief, Mr. John Owusu-Afiriyie’s gibe that Mr. Johnson Asiedu-Nketiah was merely “saving face” by calling for the prosecution of the “Tain-500-Plus,” could not have been well-thought-out by the NDC scribe.

What Mr. Asiedu-Nketiah is essentially saying is that undermining the sacred franchise of the people and then keeping mum about it is a vintage strategic policy that is institutionally inextricable from the so-called National Democratic Congress.

If so, then the question that arises at this juncture, of course, is this: What is to be done? Or: Now what? And it would be plain foolhardy to pretend that there is an easy answer here. Well there is, of course, an easy answer here; and it definitely is the one that the NPP’s General-Secretary offered in a gut reaction to the defection of the “Tain-500-Plus.” Which is that “We [the NPP] are going to map out strategies to guard against any act of deceit that will be adopted by the NDC. We will not allow them to have their own way” (See “We Feel Vindicated – NPP” 8/23/10).

Such observation as the one above, while quite understandable is, nonetheless, pathetic, especially coming nearly two decades into Ghana’s Fourth-Republican dispensation. For it naively presupposes almost as if NDC political scam artistry only began to be noticed with Ghana’s last general election.

You see, the problem with the characteristically urbane and deliberately cultivated scions of the Danquah-Busia-Dombo Tradition, is that we are self-alienated extroverts gratuitously bent on proving to the protean international community how enviably we typify quintessential Ghanaian democracy. Whereas on the part of the Rawlings-chaperoned NDC, it is all a clinical question of grabbing and hanging onto power and then making your perceived enemies and political opponents endure one endless, if also unforgettable, night in hell!

Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English, Journalism and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is a Governing Board Member of the Accra-based Danquah Institute (DI) and the author of 21 books, including “Ghanaian Politics Today” (Atumpan Publications/, 2008).


The opinions expressed here are the author`s and do not necessarily reflect the views or have the endorsement of the Editorial Board of AfricaNewsAnalysis.