Fighting the opposition, the enemy, and the traitor?

Fri, 6 May 2011 Source: Bokor, Michael J. K.

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

E-mail: mjbokor@yahoo.com

May 4, 2011

I am particularly concerned about the implications of what the Rawlingses have set in motion, which Rawlings’ violent-laden utterance portrays: “…We will be fighting all kinds. If we are not fighting the opposition, you have the enemy also on one hand, and you have the traitor also on the other.”

Who else in Ghana’s current democratic experiment does Rawlings perceive as “the enemy,” or “a traitor” to mobilize forces against if not the very President and members of the government that the NDC fought to put in power? Are these fair perceptions at all? Who is Rawlings to say that he is infallible or that he is not the cause of the very problems that he and his wife have gathered malcontents around them on the political roof-top to complain about?

It is most unfortunate for the Rawlingses to deplore, debase, and abuse the Presidency. By taking President Mills to the cleaners and accusing him of not doing what will build the party, they are taking matters to a whole twisted level. They are setting a very obnoxious precedent for the Presidency which must not be supported, else, we end up tying the functions of the President to party-building as well. I think that the Constitution clearly defines the purview of the President and we must not add more to the work load.

This (mis)behaviour portrays the Rawlingses as either shallow-minded or plainly mischievous. They are behaving as President Mills’ government is doing anything unusual that didn’t happen under Rawlings or Kufuor. In its own small way, this government is continuing with the “development Project Agenda” that undergirded the Rawlings and Kufuor government’s approach to solving national problems.

The lion’s share of the government’s attention has been given to implementing the “Better Ghana Agenda,” which is a synonym for all that Rawlings did that appealed to the rural dwellers and turned them into his bastion of political support. President Mills is doing the same thing, as we can see from the projects being commissioned here and there. It is not as if he has failed in his bid to use the country’s resources for that purpose. If his government is on course to provide what will enhance the standard of living, what crime has he committed to evoke so much bitterness and anger in the Rawlingses?

In other respects too, he is doing things according to what the NDC outlined in its manifesto. He may not be exuding so much steam or be the kind of charismatic leader that the Rawlingses think they are; but he must be given the benefit of the doubt to use his “slow” approach to governance to register his own mark.

Strictly speaking, the President must be the father-of-all-Ghanaians, not necessarily only the political party that put him in power. I am saying guardedly here that saddling the President with the responsibility of directly building the party (as the Rawlingses seem to imply, and for which they are up in arms against President Mills) is too much. What will be the fate of our democracy if the President skews attention to only matters of his own party? We want a President who will serve everybody’s interests; although he must not lose sight of the fact that he belongs to a particular political party.

So far, President Mills hasn’t done anything to suggest that he has dissociated himself from the NDC or that he is destroying the party. I take issue with accusations that he hasn’t visited the party’s national headquarters so far, which is one of the major cards being played against him. Of course, visiting the party’s structures on the ground can be a politically astute thing to do but it can’t be presented as a priority, especially when every opportunity exists for the party’s functionaries to interact with the Presidency.

This accusation is a major factor being used by the Rawlingses to suggest that President Mills is destroying the party. I want to infer from this accusation that the Rawlingses are being finicky and are more interested in whipping up sentiments in the rank and file of unwitting NDC followers as a ploy to advance their own agenda. They are being manipulative in this case and must be told the truth.

It is important for us to know that choosing President Mills to blame for this so-called lowering of morale in the NDC’s ranks is just a calculated attempt by the Rawlingses to give him a bad name and call for his hanging. It beats my imagination why they haven’t complained about the activities of the NDC’s MPs as far as the fate of the party is concerned. One would have expected the Rawlingses to realize that the strength of the party depends on how those at the lower levels relate to the party.

And the constituencies are where the voters make their voices heard. Why should they pinpoint the Presidency to blame and not say anything about the MPs who are the direct representatives of the party in the Legislature but whose activities so far have demoralized the party’s followers and created favourable conditions for their rejection at the next polls?

Should the MPs do their homework well and build the party at the grassroot level, it will remain strong enough to ward off any inroads by the rival parties. That is where the big deal is. So far, none of those accusing President Mills has bothered to look at the issue from that broader perspective. What is the relationship between the MPs and the executive officers of the party at the constituency and ward levels? If that relationship is frosty, what is being done to change matters for the better so that the party can be resourced and reorganized at the basic levels?

I am surprised at this ignorance concerning the cause of apathy in the party’s ranks and want to suggest that someone is doing overtime for the wrong purpose. Let’s take Michael Nyaunu, the Lower Manya MP for instance, who has identified with the Rawlingses and joined them in their hot-air-blowing escapades. Reports indicate that he hasn’t endeared himself to his constituents, meaning that the party is collapsing in that constituency. Does it have to take President Mills to revive the NDC in that constituency, for that matter?

Yet, Nyaunu is vociferous in his wayward condemnation of President Mills. He is on the band-waggon of Nana Konadu, criss-crossing constituency to seek goodwill for her. Characters such as this MP (and there are many of them in the NDC) are those killing the party from within. When they team up with trouble-makers like the Rawlingses, we can tell where they want to extend their mischief to.

There is no doubt in my mind that of all the Heads of State that Ghana has had since independence, Rawlings is the most controversial one whose acts of commission or omission (including unguarded utterances and public posturing) have offended the most.

I can say on authority that Nkrumah was hated mostly by his political opponents (especially because of the Preventive Detention Act, instituting a one-party state and making himself the Life President of Ghana, manipulating the apparatus of state to serve his CPP’s interests, ideological bankruptcy—implementing a personality-cult-driven Nkrumahism—and mismanagement of the economy, an over-ambitious foreign policy), which eventually led to his downfall.

Rawlings pales in significance to Nkrumah and raises dissent against himself to higher and unprecedented levels for obvious reasons. Being abrasive in all that he says or does, Rawlings has carved a superbly negative niche for himself in the eyes of those who don’t want to have anything to do with the NDC. Ask them and they will tell you how embittered they are that although Rawlings preached virtue, what happened under him was anything but that.

The vices cannot be easily overlooked. I acknowledge such perspectives and admit that they are responsible for the difficulties that the NDC has to grapple with in its membership drive. Under Rawlings, more Ghanaians suffered pain and indignity than anybody may wish to acknowledge.

More sympathizers or followers of the NDC’s cause deserted the party during Rawlings time than we may notice today under President Mills. Unless anybody wants to be economical with the truth, it shouldn’t be difficult to say that the majority of all those who began with Rawlings deserted because of Rawlings’ penchant for intimidating or creating needless hostility.

The major figures who were with the PNDC at the national level and all those unknown activists who propped up his cause are today either “enemies” of the NDC or in the camps of the other political parties. Ask them why they are outside the NDC and they recollect bitter experiences to explain their resolve never to return to the party’s fold because of the “Rawlings factor.”

The departure of Goosie Tanoh and his group of activists to form the National Reform Party and Dr. Obed Asamoah and his Democratic Freedom Party are only two glaring examples of how Rawlings’ belligerence spawned division within the ranks of the political family that he helped bring about. Some may argue that the departure of these activists didn’t have any significant adverse effect on the NDC; but I disagree with them because in politics, where numbers count, any party that continues to lose its members will certainly not be the same again over the period. Others defected, further diminishing the numbers to boost those of the NDC’s opponents.

These aggrieved activists left, dragging along with them those family members, friends, and sympathizers supporting them (whom we don’t know). The more the Rawlingses rear their heads to torment people in the party that they see as “enemies,” the more they tear the party apart. This is the fact that they are refusing to recognize and are about every day, constantly creating more trouble.

Creating structures at the Presidency for party building will give rise to fraudulent practices. We already know how contract sums are inflated and 15% kickbacks collected from contractors to build up the party’s coffers. Will we forget the damaging comments made by the former NPP National Chairman (Harona Esseku), criticizing former President Kufuor for hijacking kickbacks meant for party building?

The tendency to create loopholes in the system to garner resources at the official level for party organization is not a thing that we should encourage but if the President is pushed to the wall, what else can he do but institutionalize that practice? And will we turn round to condemn it since party building cannot be done on empty coffers?

Party building is the responsibility of all those who have anything to do with the party. It doesn’t have to be the direct responsibility of the President. We all know how various interests have contributed to building the NDC and shouldn’t behave as if it is only the President who must spearhead that effort. Those uninformed NDC fanatics who have allowed themselves to be manipulated by the Rawlingses will come to realize their folly only long after the harm has been inflicted on the party. When the wool finally falls off from their eyes, they will bite their fingers in a futile rage—and maybe go for the Rawlingses in consequence.

Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.