By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
May 4, 2011
At the launching of her “Presidential Campaign” at the Accra International Conference Center, Nana Konadu made utterances which seemed to suggest that she might not have known why she chose to go against the grain in challenging President Mills. Her utterances were, indeed, more of a reflection on the very problems that she and her husband have created for the NDC than any acceptable justification for her wanting to be Ghana’s President (May God forbid, though). Among others, here is what she said: “… there is now a politics of threats. A politics of fear, a politics of financial influence being imposed on our party… Let us work to remove the politics of vindictiveness, let us work to remove the politics of arrogance that is being introduced into our party and restore hope trust and respect to our party and the people of Ghana.”
Let us unpack this utterance to justify why we think that it has more to do with the nature and type of politics that the Rawlingses have indulged in over the years than the basis for their accusation against successive governments, especially the one led by President Mills.
POLITICS OF THREATS?
It’s really difficult to understand where this claim is rooted. One doesn’t need to look any far to return this accusation to where it belongs—right at the doorsteps of the Rawlingses. Who is threatening whom in Ghana politics today apart from the Rawlingses? I guess Nana Konadu didn’t have her thinking cap properly fixed on to know that what she was blurting out reflected more of what she and her husband are wont to do than she might associate with the current administration. I wish she would see her own pig-headed approach to politics and her husband’s politics of threats, intimidation, and outright bullying of people with divergent views more clearly to know where the buck stops.
POLITICS OF FEAR?
Ghanaians must be scratching their heads in bewilderment at this allegation. They can’t understand this claim by a woman whose husband is known for presiding over a government that used the element of “fear” as its major tool for ruling the country. Indeed, anything about Rawlings is fear personified. Having entered politics through the barrel of the gun, he knew nothing else with which to prop himself up in office than the instilling of fear in the people through bullying and corporal punishment. The physical humiliation that Ghanaian women suffered under the Rawlings regime; the public flogging of traders accused of profiteering; the open harassment of all manner of people by soldiers and activists of the AFRC and PNDC created so much fear in the populace. Then, the murder of known military Generals (including three former Heads of State) at the firing squad topped it up, not to talk about numerous other Ghanaians who got missing. Why would Kufuor establish a National Reconciliation Commission to probe what happened under Rawlings if there was no such happening?
Indeed, did Rawlings not scare the populace with his stentorian claim that there was need for Ghana to “go the Ethiopian way” (with direct reference to the bloodshed that the former Ethiopian military regime under Mengistu Haile Mariam caused when it overthrew Emperor Haile Selassie in 1974)? And was that call not the basis for all the atrocities that occurred in the 100 days of the AFRC, which got repeated in the heady days of his second coming (PNDC)? The heinous crimes committed have become synonymous with Rawlings and if anybody should complain about the politics of fear, one would least expect it to be his wife, who was an integral part of the machinery of torture and fear. Can Nana Konadu explain the circumstances under which her private official vehicle was used to convey the High Court judges to the Bundase Military Range by Corporal Amedeka and his group that shot them dead in cold blood and set their bodies ablaze? Does she know how much fear that incident instilled in Ghanaians? Disgusting already! POLITICS OF FINANCIAL INFLUENCE BEING IMPOSED ON OUR PARTY? Can Konadu explain why the Kufuor government hauled her and officials of the Divestiture Implementation Committee to court over how she fraudulently acquired Carridem? Or how her 31st December Women’s Movement sourced and used funds from all manner of people and institutions? Can she tell us how much money was spent educating her children overseas and where all that money came from? Or why she and her husband forcefully kicked out Victor Smith because of his insistence that the money that had been received from a foreign donor to support the NDC’s campaigns for the 2008 elections be sent to the party’s coffers and not left in their hands? We heard about all that issue.
POLITICS OF VINDICTIVENESS?
Isn’t it beyond belief for Nana Konadu to be insinuating that President Mills’ government has engaged on a campaign of vindictiveness (maybe, against her and her husband)? I can’t bring myself to hear that she will be complaining about this particular issue, knowing very well that it belies her true self and purposes. Was it not because of President Mills’ refusal to do this “politics of vindictiveness” against the Kufuor government that Nana Konadu and her husband took this implacable offence and have been jumping on him since it became evident that he was not the kind of politician to witch-hunt? I am yet to comprehend what might have forced these words out of her mouth. She can’t claim not to know that what she is accusing others of fits her better. Maybe, one has to probe more into this issue to be able to know why she thinks that the politics of vindictiveness is not good. Is it only now that she has come to realize it as a major problem to deal with?
POLITICS OF ARROGACNE?
Probably, Nana Konadu had some particular people in mind against whom she was making this allegation and should have been bold enough to mention names. Indeed, I don’t see anybody in President Mills’ government as exhibiting what she is complaining about. If, indeed, her allegation was targeted at the NDC government, then, she misfired big time.
Ghanaians know for sure who the arrogant politicians are. They are those who have used their political connections to enrich themselves yet behave as if they are paupers. They are those who will not allow others the freedom to exercise the mandate given them by the electorate and will do anything to undermine them. These are the politicians who, unfortunately, are today pitting camp against the incumbent. Maybe, Nana Konadu had herself and her husband in mind. RESTORING TRUST AND RESPECT TO NDC AND THE PEOPLE OF GHANA? That’s a tall order. The NDC’s problems didn’t just erupt overnight or over the past two years that President Mills has led it. We all know the root causes of most of the problems, especially those bordering on credibility and performance. By trying to shift blame, Nana Konadu seems to have chosen to indulge in a kind of selective amnesia which will haunt her till doomsday.
Many factors influence a party’s support base. As human beings, our interests and persuasions are not set in stone. They change according to circumstances and we are free to change our minds, especially in matters regarding partisan politics. Although it is not strange for some people to remain fixated on one persuasion throughout their life time, we can’t begrudge others if they do otherwise. It is a truism that even fools change their minds at times. Thus, the political interests and considerations of political party followers are expected to change and when they do, who should be surprised or angry to blame anybody for it? The fundamental question to ask is: Why do the Rawlingses think that using the activists of the CPP and Danquah-Busia-Dombo political parties when they were in power was good but is not same for President Mills? We can recall all the people who joined Rawlings from the various political persuasions to help him run affairs. He used these people and discarded them at will. At the time that they were propping him up, he didn’t have cause to accuse anybody of introducing any “toxic political element” into his administration. He used them at will, leaving them to their fate when his term ended.
Most of those government functionaries are the very people that President Mills has taken on board to help him run affairs. Yet, Rawlings and his wife have turned round to insult them as “greedy bastards” whose credibility and performance he hates. What is wrong with these functionaries today that Rawlings didn’t notice at the time that he was working with them?
Rawlings and his wife need to recall all those who worked with the AFRC/PNDC/NDC I but who today have become their chewing stick to be torn into shreds and their character destroyed just because they are working with a different person. They will realize, if they do, that they are no more in their camp because of their hostile attitude toward them. Not being in their camp doesn’t necessarily mean that those people are opponents of the NDC. Both Rawlings and his wife may brag of their charisma to grab the goodwill of NDC followers. That’s where their problem lies. Charisma alone is nothing but a dangerous trait if all it does is to deceive the holder into seeing himself as the only person who is destined to carry the whole country (or world) on his shoulders. Charisma can fill its holder with a deceptive sense of invincibility and lead him astray. History has provided us with numerous examples of such characters who trusted their own charisma, inflating themselves beyond the point of elasticity, and doing all manner things only to burst into pitiable smithereens.
And who says that the people of Ghana have lost trust and respect, which Nana Konadu will now restore to them?
I insist that the Rawlingses’ charisma is nothing to recommend them to Ghanaians at this time in the search for measures with which to strengthen our democracy. That charisma doesn’t solve national problems. It only beguiles them into playing to the gallery and setting themselves up for difficult times that lie ahead. If beclouded by self-delusion not to foresee what lies ahead of them, some of us think that we should poke them in the ribs. That’s exactly what I have been doing all these years. They will be wise to hasten slowly.