GHANA:Who is really a TRUE NDC Member? – Asks Dr Michael J.K. Bokor in Part 1 of a two-part series

Jerry John Rawlings, Ghana's former president
Over the past few days, former President Rawlings has lifted his criticism of the Mills government to dizzying heights and created the impression that the NDC government has reached a dead end. He has condemned those in government he sees as using the NDC as a fodder to rebuild the CPP and vowed not to campaign for President Mills if he happens to emerge as the NDC’s flagbearer.

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These outpourings of Rawlings don’t end there. He has given indications that he will fight back to reclaim the NDC and will not allow himself to be sidelined. His persistently wild posturing and needless vilification of the Mills government confirm the extent to which he is catalyzing the destabilization of the NDC. No doubt, his blinkered approach is worsening the internal problems of the party. We should by now have known Rawlings for what (who) he is but don’t have to keep quiet as he continues to muddy the political waters.

The bickerings in the NDC don’t only weaken the party but they also accentuate the bundle of contradictions that characterize it. They expose the deeper-level cracks within the NDC. In one sense, these internal dynamics may be useful if they can help sharpen the rough edges of the party for it to mature. On the contrary, they will be troubling if all they only end up doing is to hurt the party all the more. The latter seems to be the reality.

It is clear that the main players of the pro-Rawlings faction and those supporting President Mills are on a rampage to cut each other to size and, by so doing, end the party’s hold on power. It is baffling to see these negative attitudinal issues dominate the party’s affairs at this time, which makes the party a potential danger to Ghana’s democracy.
Considering how it currently handles its internal affairs, the NDC is failing to mature, creating the unfortunate impression that it is crumbling. It suggests that the party doesn’t deserve the trust and confidence of the electorate in future. Is that what those under-
cutting each other seek for the NDC?

As functionaries of the political party in power, they have an onerous duty to behave responsibly instead of serving as catalysts for destabilization. By his incessant rabble-rousing, former President Jerry John Rawlings (the Founder of the party, who is also Chairman of the party’s Council of Elders) is most guilty. By choosing to spearhead factionalism in the party through a benighted and despicable catering to “revolutionary fervour” under the supposed aegis of democracy, he betrays ignorance of what party politics is about.

Rawlings’ orchestrated but miscalculated strategies to reassert his influence in the NDC have practical consequences, which don’t redound to the party’s image. By choosing to use undermining of the incumbent (President Mills) as his trump-card, Rawlings has set in motion a series of self-serving and destructive acts. His flaming rhetoric and the smoke generated from the smoke are not good for the future viability of the party, as we can infer from public reaction. The irresponsible conduct of the party’s foot-soldiers is mostly nourished by input from Rawlings’ brazen and misguided destabilizing acts, utterances, and what he seeks to use politics for.

As the farm-hand observed while he watched the pigs wallowing in the mud, “Rightly should they be called pigs on account of their disgusting habits.”

Obviously, Rawlings seems to be working from egocentric assumptions that border on political jingoism. Let none of his overzealous followers mistake my formulation of the problems being caused by Rawlings as my disrespect for him, a personal attack on him, or a repudiation of his contributions to the NDC’s cause. Anything of the sort will be both misplaced and irrelevant. My point is different. I am emphasizing the danger that his erratic behaviour poses. And my concern over this point extends far beyond any misconstrual of my intentions as an affront to Rawlings. His strategies for solving national problems are anachronistic, which contributes to his restiveness and our restlessness

As if long spoiling for a fight with the incumbent, Rawlings quickly seized the outcome of the court proceedings involving the alleged killers of the Ya-Na to prosecute his agenda. By first identifying with the riotous Tamale youth who vandalized the NDC’s property, he moved a notch higher to blame President Mills for the turn of events. Then, he saw what he had been looking for and launched his verbal missiles at those he considered to be sidelining him in the NDC.
His objective is to primarily reassert his influence and regain control of the party. How miscalculating could Rawlings be? Regarded as the Founder of the NDC and Chairman of the party’s Council of Elders, what more does he need to prove that he hasn’t been divested of any power or authority in the party but that he has other important roles to play than wanting to call the shots for the Mills government to act on?

Probably, he feels insecure only because President Mills and his government aren’t willing to be used by him. In other words, Rawlings is embittered only because what he considers “useful advice” to President Mills isn’t being acted on. That’s the main point for his tantrums. It isn’t because he no more wields power and authority in the NDC. He still does and should have been reasonable on that score; but he isn’t just because he can’t have his own way to dictate to President Mills.

Rawlings is complaining about those in government on the ticket of the NDC and accusing them of stifling the growth of the NDC just because he thinks that they are not genuine NDC followers but CPP activists who are turning the table against the NDC from within for the benefit of the CPP. That is to say that they are doing all they can to nurture the CPP on the NDC’s turf. Nothing can be more repulsive than this allegation.

When he worked with all these people from diverse political or ideological backgrounds, Rawlings didn’t find them to be treacherous or seeking to grow the CPP or UP out of the NDC. They were personalities whom he found to be perfectly suitable as pawns for his political game. At that time, Rawlings didn’t complain in any way about their harming the interests of the political tradition that he upheld. Was it only because it was he who was then in command and control?
It is undeniable that Rawlings has a streak of character that doesn’t allow him to be subservient to people in authority. This capricious tendency is what makes him so dangerously resilient and antagonistic toward those he had earlier used to prosecute his agenda but cannot bring himself to submit to now that it’s their turn to call the shots. We saw his uncompromising attitude to former President Kufuor (who was a Secretary for Local Government under Rawlings in 1982 before becoming Ghana’s President).

We are seeing the same awkwardness in his attitude to President Mills (whom he had appointed as a Commissioner of the IRS before rising to become the Vice President and, as fate would have it, being hand-picked and anointed by this same Rawlings as his successor in the Swedru Declaration, which itself tore up the ranks of the NDC).

By his incessant scurrilous verbal attacks on President Mills and all those in his government that he doesn’t agree with, Rawlings is purposefully working to undermine the basis of the very party that he claims to have founded and led all these years. Nothing can be more paradoxical (if not politically suicidal) than this penchant to undermine the integrity of his own party and its government.
Of course, having already placed the wedge between himself and the NDC faction in government, Rawlings seems to be hell-bent on actualizing a self-fulfilling prophesy.

But therein lies his problem. Does he think that he can destroy the faction in the party that he dislikes and still hope to install his wife as a successful flagbearer in the 2012 elections? Even if those rooting for him and his wife happen to carry the day at the NDC’s July congress, won’t they need the backing of those they are now goring left and right as if clearing them from the path will pave the way for an electoral victory for Nana Konadu?

Do Rawlings and Nana Konadu think that they are more genuine NDC members than all the other functionaries of the party put together? What will make them feel so?

We know that the NDC is made up of activists from diverse political, social, ethnic, and military backgrounds. That is why it has all along been upheld as a “CONGRESS,” and not called a “PARTY.” The NDC has succeeded since its outdooring as such in Cape Coast in 1992 because its functionaries have collaborated very well to sustain the party and haven’t seriously questioned each other’s origin or motive for being in the party.

The party has a variegated membership. From the so-called revolutionary cadres (regarding themselves as the NDC’s foot-soldiers) who constitute the “old guards” of the party to others who joined the party (as “new guards” not defined by their revolutionary fervour) after the metamorphosis of the PNDC into the NDC, the fabric of the party has remained intact until now that Rawlings is seeking to separate the sheep from the goats.

From what Rawlings has begun doing, it is obvious that he wants to create favourable conditions for the party to disintegrate. He wants to take “his party” back, meaning that he considers the party as being in the wrong hands. By repudiating those he calls CPP elements who have hijacked the party and turned it into a front for the CPP, Rawlings is peeling off the party’s fabric. He is destroying the party’s support base.

If the NDC is indeed an amalgamation of people from diverse political extractions, why shouldn’t Rawlings accept them as such? Will Rawlings say that the NDC should reject votes from voters known to be followers of the other political parties? Or that the NDC can go it alone without votes from those in the CPP seeking to vote for NDC candidates? Or does he think that the NDC can win elections with only votes from its own followers? If he thinks so, he will be displaying the height of naivety.

To be continued…