Inhale, Hold it, Hold it ……… Woyome!

Tue, 25 Dec 2012 Source: Casely-Hayford, Sydney

Critical News, 23rd December 2012

Sydney Casely-Hayford, sydney@bizghana.com

This past week Mr. J. K. Zormelo was moved to insult me for bringing up what I considered critical news for the week. He posted a comment to my blog, labeled me a “bigot” and a “very bitter person”. Read it here. I was amused and provoked enough to reply his comment. I hope I got it right, but sometimes writing a piece does not cover all the thoughts adequately and it can turn long-winded and tortuous, but I am impressed that he wrote and gave me an opportunity to explain a little more of my thoughts. You are welcome Mr. Zormelo.

Next Sunday I will write the final Critical News for the year. The NPP would have filed their case by then and we will have a lot to “talk” about. Before then I am looking ahead and wondering. What happens if the NPP presents a solid case and convinces the Supreme Court that it was a fraudulent election? The judges have one of three actions to make. Ask President Mahama to step down and out, direct for a re-vote, ask that President Mahama stay on as President and the EC must ensure that we have a clean and no-rigging protest in 2016.

The easiest compromise is the re-vote. The Parties are too evenly divided, but a re-vote verdict against the NDC implies cheating. Can they manage that in a second round? If the President has to step down, we have a truly unprecedented event in our history and a major embarrassment. We might even have to ban the NDC from politics. If the NDC and John Mahama are permitted to stay in Government, the stigma of a stolen crown can never wash and the party is doomed for a long time. Which of these decisions will work for Ghana?

What if the NPP is not convincing enough and the Supreme Court throws the case out? And it cannot be on a technicality, because the team of lawyers bringing this case cannot afford to make that mistake. A merit loss will discredit the party forever in Ghana’s politics and is tantamount to a voluntary ban from politics. The NPP will give up their history as a champion of rights and vigilance and Nana Addo ends an illustrious carrier as a freedom fighter and champion of the people’s rights to don the garb of “man who wanted to be President at all costs” and dies the all-die of a man who tried once too often. President Mills came that close in 2008.

But the case is far bigger than a win or lose affair. This case must bring up all the issues of a flawed electoral system that can threaten our democracy and on a reductionism basis, u-turn Ghana to a Constitutional crisis such as we saw in the run-up to Independence between 1954 and 1957 and the choice of Federalism and Nationalism.

I think we are fighting for proper representation in Parliament and an even share of National spoils.

A short trip down memory lane, I find always helps.

At the heart of the fight for independence and threats of secession by the National Liberation Movement in the Gold Coast, was the fight for representation of seats in the Legislative Assembly and the price of Cocoa. Without a weighting in favor of contribution of revenue by the cocoa producing areas in the country, the Nation’s Cocoa, Timber, Gold, Diamonds and Bauxite derived mainly from Ashanti including the Bono states. Ashanti claimed that it deserved at least 30 seats, and based on a combination of population and contribution to national coffers, Ashanti would be the largest single dominant contributor.

In the previous 1950 allocation of seats, the Colony had 29, Northern Territories – 19, Trans-Volta Togoland – 8 and Ashanti – 19.

The CPP was more represented in the Colony and within months of entering office, Kwame Nkrumah as Leader of Government Business set about laying grounds for a new constitution. One of the main aims was to secure a new demarcation of electoral districts. The Van Lare Commission he set up, allocated 104 seats in the new Assembly based on population only and the final composition of seats became Colony - 44, Northern Territories – 26, Ashanti – 21 and Trans Volta Togoland – 13.

All this history has a replay button on our “DVD chronicles” player. This 2012 election saw a tense demarcation of constituencies, promises of wealth allocation to districts with oil potential and all sorts of other election abuses, which could have created a whole mess of rioting and to the extreme, calls for boycott and maybe secession? I doubt that very much.

But here is another parallel. In the lead up to the 1956 election, the Jibowu Commission of Enquiry into the affairs of the Cocoa Purchasing Commission had revealed that some leading members of the CPP had been involved in serious malpractice. The opposition NLM expected this to have made the governing party unpopular and tilt the vote in their favor. After the count, the CPP won hands down. Later reports demonstrated how the incumbent had used its advantage to influence rural votes.

We are still living these issues even as we vote with a more refined system. We are certainly a far cry from the days when Nkrumah and Kutu Acheampong won a 99% vote count.

But what it does say to us is, there is still a lot wrong with our voting system. What would push a political machine to purposefully want to beat the system so they can stay in the seat of Government? It has come to a head from many voting years past. Politicians have found many different ways to bastardize the system irrespective of which party. We are only confronted with this now, and it has to be a party. NDC challenged the voting in 2008 as well and previous challenges were made against the PNDC many times.

Truth be told, there is little ideological difference between the NPP and the NDC. You can label the NPP a property owning democracy, but there are equal numbers in the NDC who are just as value-acquisitive as those on the NPP side and there are equal poverty safety net policies from the NPP as from the NDC. The main campaign difference between the parties in this election year was the free SHS matter. If the NDC had come up with it first, they would have pushed it all the way to the wire as the NPP did.

My argument then is, we need to eliminate all the possible loopholes and give voters a chance for true representation. I am still developing ideas on a Ghanaian form of proportional representation, which I am convinced is the way to resolve all this.

But Alfred Agbesi Woyome diverted my attention. He whispered in public a few words of caution that President John Mahama might not want to appoint certain persons who had attacked him (Woyome) for a role he has played in an alleged ghc51.2 million corruption of funds. There are several suits in court about this money, even one in the Supreme Court by Mr. Martin Amidu, a former A-G in Atta Mills’ government. Something has made Mr. Woyome bold again. His party is back? Time to strut, and don’t hold your breath. Already the appointed Commissioner cannot get all the information he needs from the civil servants.

President John Mahama has flown to South Africa, Sunday for a week-long visit. It is a private visit, presumably to rest and recoup, get a medical? maybe? Or just get away from Ghana for a few days while the mess is in the caldron waiting for the NPP onslaught at the Supreme Court to establish guilt or other of the Electoral Commission and the NDC.

I am booked all this Xmas for some good Azonto entertainment and to watch the upsurge of the Ghana movie scene. “Contract” is out and showing all holiday, it is billed as one of the best movies of the year. There is this layer of Ghanaian movies, the “sumsum bi a kyi me” variety and the “Adam’s Apples” versions with good scripts, better cinematography and sound and good technical production. I am looking at the days when we start dropping the cost of these movies with more IP-based production houses and slick graphics, manned by the youth and free will to elevate their creativity.

“Contract” should fill the void of entertainment while the more serious drama of voting results is held in suspense until the NPP movie is presented and directed to the Supreme Court. Let me venture a title. “Showdown on Mills Street”.

Ghana, Aha a ye de papa. Alius valde week advenio. Another great week to come!

Columnist: Casely-Hayford, Sydney