Destructive partisanship

Mon, 9 Dec 2013 Source: Kennedy, Arthur Kobina

Orangeburg, South Carolina

5TH December, 2013

This week, spokespersons for both the NPP and the NDC rejected a proposal from political scientist, Dr. Kwesi Jonah that the two political parties form a unity government. He suggested that a coalition government would be a better alternative to the current “winner-takes-all” being practiced by the political parties.

While a unity government should not be a pre-condition for intra-party collaboration, I was stunned by the reactions of the two parties to the suggestion.

According to “Ghanaweb”, the “Deputy General Secretary of the NDC, George Lawson, said in an interview with XYZ news that the political parties are abiding by the 1992 constitution which does not stipulate a one-party state.” The Ghanaweb story continues, “Acting NPP Communication Director, Perry Okudzeto also rejected the suggestion saying the NDC and NPP cannot work together since they operate under different ideologies.” According to Mr. Okudzeto, “Political parties operate based on principles and ideologies and there are differences within these parties as to how they think and their attitudes towards development. We have two parties made up of two different genetic stands and we cannot work together in unity.” Really, gentlemen?

If this kind of thinking dominates our major parties, then Ghana is indeed, in trouble.

I have not seen anything in our constitution that prohibits different parties from working together. Indeed, from 1993 to 1997, President Rawlings and his Vice, Arkaah were from different parties and the constitution did not forbid that. Indeed, for the 1996 elections, Mr. Arkaah crossed carpet to team up with Kufuor in an unsuccessful bid to unseat Rawlings.

As for the ideological argument, it should be dismissed out of hand.

American Democrats and Republicans work together all the time, to solve problems for their nation. And so do British Conservatives and Liberals. In Canada, some of the best governments have been coalition governments and currently, Britain has a coalition government that appears to be working well.

Indeed, even here in Ghana, President Kufuor co-opted people of different ideologies—like Dr. Nduom to serve in his government. That may be the reason why Kufuor’s government is considered by many to be the best since our return to democracy. Furthermore, during the NPP’s attempt to overturn Mahama’s election, did the NPP not assure Ghanaians that Nana Addo, as President could work with the NDC Parliamentary majority? While ideology has its purpose, in most parts of the world, politics is in the post-ideological era. That is why the leftist Rawlings implemented draconian IMF policies while the conservative Kufuor gave us the National Health Insurance Scheme and the School Feeding program.

Ultimately, the NPP and the NDC (acting in the space of the CPP) are divided more by whose ghost they worship than by ideology. Any reluctance to work together has nothing to do with our constitution or any ideology. After all, NPP and NDC Parliamentarians have had little difficulty working across ideological and constitutional strictures to protect ex-gratia and Parliamentary privileges. Indeed, reasonable observers would struggle to see differences between the two parties in regards to corruption, nepotism and the culture of insults.

It would seem that the constitution and ideology matters only when we need unity to solve the problems of Ghanaians—like health, education and unemployment. Those who have difficulty working across ideological and constitutional obstacles might recall that Mandela and de Klerk managed to work together.

Let our leaders work together, regardless of ideology, the constitution, ethnicity and the ghosts we worship—in the interest of Ghana.

Let us banish the diseases that afflict NPP and NDC alike—together.

Let us educate all our children, regardless of where they come from or live.

Let our government create jobs for all our youth regardless of ideology.

Let us move forward—together.

Arthur Kobina Kennedy

Columnist: Kennedy, Arthur Kobina