Opinions Fri, 26 Jul 2013

Tarzan: NPP’s Soul Rebel!

I am a rebel. Soul rebel. Bob Marley

If the New Patriotic Party (NPP) knew how to better leverage the challenging views of Dr. Charles Wereko-Brobbey aka Tarzan, they will not crown him the ultimate pariah, much less suspend him for two years. Some will not call for his dismissal. And others will certainly not postulate that if he has the right to speak his mind, others also reserve the right to subject him to physical beating!

“If Wereko-Brobbey has the right to speak, others have the right to throw their hands” says NPP Communicator Asamoah Gyamfi! It would appear therefore that in the NPP, the battle of wits has unwittingly become a brawn-fest! Alas!

Boycotting the Presidential inauguration and lambasting President Kufour for showing up. Boycotting selected events in Parliament, sometimes billed as those events involving the person of President Mahama, but appearing for some Committee meetings. And then boycotting bye elections organized by the Electoral Commission, thereby readily conceding crucial political territory to its rivals. Strategically, the nation Ghana might have lost some political shine from these boycotts but the NPP would have been the greater loser as some argued that these disengagement processes would somewhat reduce political activity and visibility. Added to this was the inconsistency in the application – which events to appear at and which to boycott even as the nation’s constitution explicitly stated that pending a ruling to the contrary, President Mahama had been duly elected President. In my humble view, their actions amounted to cutting their noses to spite their face. So when Tarzan pointed out how “nonsensical” it was, I thought he would be hailed.

Of course Tarzan chose far more colorful words – ““Why not extend this illogical and nonsensical act by asking all the Party’s MPs in all of the constituencies affected by the 4700 polling stations cited in the Supreme Court Petition to step aside from Parliament pending the determination of the case?”

This synched with earlier views expressed by my good self in which I had argued that the system that produced alleged irregularities in the Presidential election and condemned by the NPP, was fundamentally the same system that produced the Parliamentary results which the party seemed largely content with. Same people, same polling agents, same day, same processes in filling pink sheets which were relied upon in both elections as the primary document at the unit level to make the case on irregularities! How could that system produce two different outcomes – the one good and the other bad? For consistency’s sake and given Bawumia’s claim of irregularities in the Parliamentary elections, both the Parliamentary and Presidential elections ought to have been filed before the Supreme Court and no NPP member should have sat in Parliament pending the determination! But of course, Nana Akomea, the party’s chief communicator ridiculed these views, saying “Even a first year political science student knows that these are two different elections!”

I conclude that the subsequent decision to actively engage in parliamentary processes is a grudging and unpalatable concession in the merit of the views of the likes of Tarzan and Kwame Pianim as the party stood the real risk of playing itself out of ongoing decision making processes that directly affected the people of Ghana! As we know, these things did not come without equally colorful anti-Tarzan insults: ungrateful recipient of President Kufuor’s largesse, not even a member of the party, ‘mismanager’ of public funds as head of the Ghana@50 secretariat – which charge the NPP had previously vigorously denied! Again, cutting their noses to spite their face!

Think about it this way. If the NPP had successfully boycotted all parliamentary proceedings for the past seven months, who do you think would have suffered most? Kwame Pianim, another elder of the party, also took his fair share of insults by daring to suggest that the party take steps to distinguish between individual and party interests. Pending the Supreme Court’s ruling, I dare ask, what has become of the quarterly reports, the constituency level political mobilization etc. that the party’s constitution speaks glowingly about? Has mobilization at that critical unit level seen a surge or a dip? This is a matter for strategists to address; whether the strategy of appearing to hinge all its hopes on a favorable ruling by the Court is the best!

So Tarzan ridiculed the best efforts of the party’s star witness – “totally clueless” he said! He has since apologized for the personalized aspects of his comments, but I would imagine the substance of his message stands. At the risk of incurring the wrath of the court, the crux of Dr. Bawumiah’s testimony was to the effect that no double counting etc. had occurred in his analysis. His analysis? Well, let us wait for the Court to pronounce and then perhaps we would know whether things could have been done differently as Tarzan suggests. Has anyone noticed the parallels between Arthur-Kennedy’s post 2008 reflections on defeat and Tarzan’s post 2012 reflections on same? The very real question thus becomes one of whether the party leadership, as currently constituted is positioned to reflect and redesign based on feedback, even if critical, from people that one of my mentors Helen Bevan calls ‘organizational radicals!

Helen Bevan argues that to be a successful ‘organizational radical’ one must first start the process of change with themselves – which I assume is why Tarzan is calling for current leadership (himself included, to give way to a younger generation -, to build critical alliances with other people that share their passion (Pianim, Nyaho-Tamakloe, Arthur- Kennedy etc.), evolve an inclusive strategy to recruit more people to think about the proposed change and finally, refuse to be a martyr – not going to the bitter end if given the current circumstances, it’s never going to work.

Why celebrate Tarzan for his brazen efforts to establish a private radio station before pluralistic media became the norm in Ghana and condemn him for currently creating a burning platform for change in the NPP’s strategies while all the time conveniently forgetting that it is the same radical element in him that is at play. The only person who has maintained any appreciable level of consistency in my view is Tarzan, and if he were in my organization, I would make much better use of him!

Sodzi Sodzi-Tettey



17th July, 2013
Columnist: Sodzi-Tettey, Sodzi