ADDENDUM: Post Election 2004 analysis

Thu, 23 Dec 2004 Source: Bottah, Eric Kwasi

Why the NDC Lost.

Prof Mills would do his party favor if he would step aside for Kwesi Botchwey. I don't get it, but there is no denying Prof Mills is a man without constituency, and that is not to say he doesn?t have the necessary educational and working experience to manage and grow the economy.

He is a Law professor and tax expert for Christ sake. But he lacks political constituency. Rawlings made the cardinal error of just plucking a political nonentity and fostering him on the masses. Atta Mills comes across as a reluctant politician who was more comfortable with the lecture halls of Legon than the shark infested waters of Ghana politics. And he is known to be under the radar staunch life-long member of the CPP, so what the heck was he doing with an UPSTART USURPER political party like the NDC?

The NDC has all the trappings of a political cult built around one person - JJ Rawlings. That does not augur well for its future, for as Rawlings goes, so shall be the NDC. No political party built around personality cult would survive the demise of the leader unless it is held together by pressure, bribery and dictatorship from the top. Looking at the two parties - NPP and NDC, you cannot deny Rawlings is the hubris that holds the NDC together. Things will fall apart as soon as he is off the stage. Charisma alone cannot hold a party for long when the subject of the charisma is no more. This is the bane of the NDC. They can't get pass Rawlings to stand on their own two legs. And as if to underline that, didn't Rawlings on the last days of the elections tell the masses to vote for the NDC and warned that he would not be around to rescue them again if they failed to do that?

Rawlings is the factor that holds the NDC together and puzzling enough, the factor that would break it, in that he doesn't let anybody forget who is the main boss and backbone of the NDC when he keeps on harping: "He is the father and founder....? blablablah. Nobody would feel comfortable sitting under the shadow of a Leninesque macho man; hovering and breathing over their shoulders.

The people would see a poodle image and believe me nobody goes to a Zoo to look at a CHICKEN. They go to see the lions and elephants. They are drawn to the individual who exudes strength, power and confidence, not a political weakling as Atta Mills often projected. He is a good man, intellectual giant but politically weak, thanks in part to his own mentor, JJ Rawlings. That is why he lost the election, especially in the Central Region.

Touching on the voting pattern coming from the Volta Region versus the rest of Ghana, one is left wondering whether there is any strategic benefit for the people from the Volta region from the way they vote. Yes some have called the pattern tribalistic, yet from another point of view I see a great parallel between how Ewes vote and Black or African-Americans vote. Seriously nobody is saying Ewes go to sleep and wake up with hatred and vendetta in their hearts to go Akan or Ashanti bashing. I have traveled the Volta Region and I am yet to come across provable facts to support that stand. All over Ghana there are intertribal marriages that kind of point or place the reasons for the voting patterns elsewhere.

I would say majority of the people have forsworn their loyalty to the LEFT in Ghana politics that comes on the heels of NAL, PNP, and P/NDC, just like the Blacks in America are permanently tied to the Democratic Party. Having said that I wonder if that makes sense in Ghana politics when we are all blacks if not one tribe. I shudder to say this kind of hit-or-miss tactics is foolhardy because you kind of end up putting all your political eggs and fortunes in one basket. The political opinion leaders from the region have kind of led the people to follow them, almost monolithically, into the center-left in Ghana politics, just like Black leaders like Jessie Jackson do in America.

Do the Ashantis largely vote en-bloc? Of course they do, but I don?t see that hurting them as they can take cover under the larger Akan umbrella. Historically they have followed the Danquah-Busia tradition which is a center-right party. The Ewes vote en-bloc and have historically followed the Nkrumaist tradition, a center-left party. Does it make any of them separatists? May be, both were the centers of segregation movements, the Ashantis opting for ?mate meho? and later for federalism whilst the Ewe Voltaians where largely for complete secession from Ghana. Does it make any of them, Ewes and Ashantis, tribalistic? Not necessary. Not until you add the factor of the foot soldiers that go around in a WHISPER CAPMPAIGN to say the other party is so-and-so tribe parties don?t vote for them! The guys at the top who are supposed to know better don?t do anything to stop that canker and I hope the lessons of this last election would teach us sense that there is no gain in that tactic.

If you bring an Ewe and an Ashanti together, each one can find a thousand-and-one reason to say the other is tribalistic. But is this necessary the case or evidence of political education deprivation? Ironically the only times Ewes and Ashantis (Akans) have kind of come together is to stage coups. Kotoka-Afrifa; Acheampong-Agbo/Selormey; Rawlings- Boakye Djan and Rawlings-Adjei Boadi-Akata-Poree etc. If they can come together to stage unconstitutional coups, I don?t know why they cannot come together under one political canopy to build the country.

Seriously Ghana political parties have a long way to go to build upon their ancestral regional beginnings to shape into truly national parties. There is the inherent danger for them to fall back to their beginnings as UP, Northern Peoples Congress, and Volta Peoples Congress etc. This inherent danger to relapse into our tribal political beginnings is what prompted Dr. Kwame Nkrumah to stamp out political parties and declared the country a one-party state. But one wonders if one-party state was a cure to our political sibling rivalry which what these parties are? Often it is not about ideologies at all, just sibling rivalry in a poor country where everybody is anxious to use the powers of the state to effect changes in their economic fortunes. The state often becomes an instrument to engage in large scale patronizing and nepotism.

The solution is a prayer. That the Abongo boys stay away from our politics and let democracy really grow. The stop-and-go interventions have rather set us back many years, preventing the emergence of a truly encompassing and embracive national parties to grow up and out of our regional and often tribal political beginnings. No political party worthy of its salt would like to be shut out of any region. Neither does any tribe would want to be shut out any administration. Hence if we allow our current political renaissance and dispensation to thrive and grow, there would be the natural capillary attraction to draw and bond the people across tribal lines and forge at least two very strong national political parties who would not draw their strength and following from tribes but from ideas, issues and competence.

What we should hope for are political parties that are tribe blind and no one tribe could boast as their own flagship. Until we get pass looking at politics through tribal lenses some of us would feel like held back by narrow minded free loaders. There is much work for our civic educators like the CDD (Center for Democratic Development) to do. The masses have to be educated to the extent they can dissect and evaluate all the competing manifestos and ideologies to select which one fits their best interest. The way things are I strongly suspect people are voting on pedigree not issues, and if they knew how, they might not have voted for a particular party or individual whose ideology or manifesto is against their best interests.

I will like to think the NDC lost because their ideology stinks. Tell me which Ghanaian is against property? Their clarion call of being against ?propertied democracy? rings hollow and perilous threat to the masses. That is my personal opinion. I might be poor; it doesn?t mean I hate property. I would love to own something like Tata Brewery for a change. A party that started as quashing and confiscating indigenous businesses like Tata Brewery, Kowus Motors, Boakye Mattress, Apino etc. is an enemy of the people not their friend. If you don?t have something for your mother-in-law, you don?t go round to rob her. Add that to all the reports that came from the NRC and filtered down to the masses, and you don?t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out, the masses saw the NPP as the one that can best preserve and protect their life and property whilst the NDC, the successor party to the PNDC is the one that abrogated their rights.

On a parallel note it was for the same reasons Kuffour lost in Tamale and large sections of the north. Ideology hardly played a role. He was seen as not strong on defense in their part of the country. And the NDC did a good job implicating the administration on the Ya Na death, though belatedly the editor of the New Democrat came out to deny and apologize for that, but by then it was too little, too late, the harm had already been done.

The people refused to return the NDC to power because the NDC smacks of petit pseudo communist or socialist party led by people who have previously caned them, killed them, maimed them, confiscated their assets and drove thousands to exile, and nobody, seriously in Ghana, likes that. At least that is what the outcome of the NRC sittings portrayed them to be. Their ideology has failed every where in the world. That is why the PSIs initiated by Kuffour were like holy hallelujah to the masses. They want and cherish the idea of owning and operating their own businesses and being free in their skin. The African may be communalistic, but he is in no way communist or socialist. Hell no! That is an utopian ideology, foreign to Ghanaians, except of course some disgruntled politicians and lecturers who don?t know how true wealth is built or created in any society.

Eric Kwasi Bottah (alias Oyokoba)
Philadelphia, PA USA

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

Columnist: Bottah, Eric Kwasi