MP Threaten Legal Action Over 'flawed' Election: --A Rejoinder.

Sat, 7 Nov 2009 Source: Berko, George

When I read the caption of the original Article to which this rejoinder is intended, I thought it was the MP that was threatening to sue over the Election. Reading further down the Article then revealed that it was rather some other members of the NPP Party at Asokwa that were contemplating taking their dissatisfaction with the MP’s behavior in the Elections to the Courts for redress. Maybe, the caption should have read: “MP Threatened Legal Action ….” Oh, well, it could have been just a common typo.

The real focus of this rejoinder, however, is on the content of the Article which makes me wonder if our Politicians would ever learn to win and keep the trust of the Electorate and not take the People for granted.

With the current heavy storm of suspicion blowing across our Political landscape, all across the Nation, and the increased fervor of the Electorate to exercise its democratic rights, even the appearance of impropriety is enough to cut into the established trust of a Politician.

So, why in the World would the Honorable MP of Asokwa risk his personal integrity and that of the Elections by having his private Residence chosen for a Polling Station? Did the MP have any overriding Authority to choose where the Elections had to be held? Was the site selection for the Polling Station approved by the National Headquarters of the Party, with the advice of the Local and Regional Party hierarchy? Many of us may not care one way or another how NPP members deal with their own headaches. In fact, some of us that do not like the Party would wish it suffers worse calamities than this. But the essence of what is going on should not concern only NPP. It epitomizes a larger phenomenon that pervades all our Political system and has been instantiated in other Political Parties as well. That is why I found it necessary to bring this case closer to the light for all of us to talk about.

In as much as intra-Partisan Elections are internal organizational activity controlled by the members of the Party itself without any intrusion from the Central Government and its relevant appendages, I think it would be proper for all Political Parties to yield to basic National Electoral requirements that ensure fairness and full exercise of the rights of the individual Party members.

It is only wise that the members of each Party do not feel unfairly coerced to relinquish their basic rights as guaranteed by the Party's Constitution. The voluntary offer of resources by individuals to facilitate the running of the Party should not be used to coerce or manipulate the direction of the Party. Better fund raising efforts to make the Party sufficiently funded and adherence to Accountability and Probity should be able to ward off any dubious alluring influence. The Party would not have to be whipped around with whimsical flapping of the lips of the deceptive selfish rich and famous. All contributions must be welcomed with the caution of not allowing any single individual take control of the Party.

All around the various Political Parties, we see the clash of Personalities and the tendency of some few individuals claiming some exceptional rights not conferred upon them by the Constitutions of the Parties. This anomaly has persistently been the root of rampant chaos in almost all the Parties.

We should acknowledge the fact that even though it takes an individual or a few people to begin the formation of a Political Party, once the Party becomes established with other members of the Public honoring the invitation to join, the original pioneering members of the Party are supposed to withdraw into the background and allow the Constitution of the Party, to which most of the members have given their approval, work without undue manipulation and injection of selfish whims and caprices of a few individuals. Once a Political Party becomes incorporated, it has no obligation to dance to the tune of its founders beyond what its Constitution spells out. The founders could enjoy immense goodwill and respect but not the subjugation of the members. If the majority of the Party Members become overly subservient to a few, say, the founders, they relinquish their right to contribute diverse opinions that democracy offers. The Party would then starve of ideas and its larger vision could be a stale, wishful thinking. Not even a dream to achieve.

Nevertheless, it is unrealistic to assume that individual personal influences could be totally ignored. But such influences must be exerted in the context of appealing to the minds of the folks that need to decide on issues and within the legal realm of the Constitution. There is nothing wrong in bouncing one's opinion off other members of the Party to win consensus, so long as the Constitution is not overrun by the idea propounded.

What we need to seriously acknowledge is that seeking consensus is not the same as throwing one's weight around or furtively buying others' agreement with money or other things in kind. If indecent quid pro quo is condoned and a few individuals are allowed to hijack the Party for their selfish ends, how can we hope to get the same Politicians to handle bigger National issues with any integrity and without falling for Corruption, when up there on the higher National forum? Or, should we keep playing blind to the ills of a Politician on the National Stage just because he or she is from our Party? No, I believe most of us want our Politicians to excel when in the Parliament or are part of the Administration. And we expect them to show they are capable of such exemplary performance by their behavior even at our local levels. Charity begins at home, they say.

The MP for Asokwa might have had the Party’s overall interest at heart to offer his house for a Polling Station when the Party probably could not find anywhere else appropriate, given the scheduling constraints. But did the Party look for other convenient locations first? Were the Party’s modalities ignored for the sake of earning the MP and his associates a special favor? Is there any justifiable cause for the protestors to suspect an underhanded activity to put other stakeholders at a disadvantage in the Elections? It is the honest response to these questions that would help determine if the protestors have a case or not. But they have already mentioned that the MP did not follow the modalities stipulated by the Party’s Constitution. So, isn’t that enough to expect the case to go to the Courts? One may ask.

Well, there are certain issues that could be resolved internally within the Party which would not need the Courts to rule on. But sometimes, once again, the impish recalcitrance of the opposing side in seeing the merits of the case fairly or the sheer gravity of the issue at stake and its repercussions are what drives the case on to the Courts. In this case, it is the results of the Elections that might have been affected by the alleged tainted modalities involved. And if the Courts decide serious infringements did occur, the results of the Elections may have to be nullified.

In the end, does the Party emerge stronger or weaker? The answer to this question is hard to know now. But we should rest assured that the Courts’ ruling could well prolong animosity within the Party. Hence, my conclusive quandary: Does it all worth the actions by the MP that precipitated the conflict? Our Politicians better learn by now that the grassroots are no more common “Veranda Boys” or ignorant farm-hands turned “Action Troopers” anymore. The grassroots are those that carry the votes and have grown wiser and more determined to give them to only those that deserve them so that our democracy can be preserved. The Politicians better not underestimate the grassroots.

The Leadership in all our Political Parties should take note that the People are fed up with the Status Quo, where only the rich and famous can assume Powerful clout in deciding our fate. The People want to reserve the right to choose who they want. They do not want to be imposed upon anymore. Thank God!!!

Long Live Ghana!!!!

Columnist: Berko, George