Was the Rawlings’ opposition worth for NDC?

Tue, 24 May 2011 Source: Bonna, Okyere

Nominating a party’s presidential candidate has never been this tougher than for the 2012 elections. NDC congress scheduled for July 8, 2011 in Sunyani would not only determine Mills’ fate but also the future of the NDC party itself, amid the unprecedented animosities within the rank and file of NDC.

A sitting President has never been contested in his bid for a second term in Ghana. By convention the sitting incumbent president has always been deemed the flagbearer of his party. This would be the first time since the return to constitutional rule in 1992 that a sitting President, John Evans Atta Mills would be duly challenged by (one and perhaps two) members of his own party. If Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings does not drop her nomination, Dr. Spio Garbrah has indicated he would also file his nomination to help her out. Although Dr Spio Garbrah’s candidacy would not be a threat to Mills with his 1% following, he could be a tie breaker for Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings.

The battle between GAME 2012 and FONKAR

The main challenger of Atta Mills is Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings, wife of Jerry John Rawlings. Mrs. Rawlings is the founder and leader of the 31st December Women’s Movement, effectively the women’s wing of the NDC and she has a big following within the NDC party. However, to get the endorsement to stand in the general election in 2012, Mrs. Rawlings first has to win the nomination of her party at the July 8-10 congress.

It is apparent that Mrs. Rawlings has her eyes all fixed for the Castle in 2012. Despite the request of party faithful to Nana to consider rescinding her decision to contest against President Mills, the wife of former president Jerry Rawlings remains composed: “In spite of all the name calling, l am bringing something new to the table and Ghana will see something different.” She told Africa Review in an exclusive interview (May 20, 2011).

If Mrs. Rawlings wins the flagbearer race she will be making history as Ghana’s first female presidential candidate and if she goes on to win in the general election, she will become the first female president in Ghana. Notwithstanding, Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings’ imminent challenge to unseat President Mills has the potential to fatally wound the NDC party thereby making her chance to the Castle slim. The Youth and foot soldiers have Nana Konadu at heart while the delegates and the elders of the party are vying for the incumbent president. Ensuing events could divide the NDC and damage its ability to retain the Presidency in 2012. Therefore some damage control is very crucial within the NDC immediately following the July Congress if it wants to hang unto power and continue Mills’ Better Ghana Agenda.

It is barely 40 days to the much talked about Sunyani NDC 2011 Congress. Predicting the outcome of battle between Get Atta Mills Elected (GAME) 2012 and the Friends of Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings (FONKAR) at this stage is not that simple. Yet, irrespective of the daunting opposition confronting him, I predict Professor Atta Mills will win the NDC’s July Congress as the flag bearer of the party. This will be a big victory for Mills as it will boost his image and publicly put to rest the untold opposition he has been facing from the Rawlingses. On a second note if the NDC does not take steps to tame, pacify or bring Mr. and Mrs. Rawlings on board after the primary it might split the party into two and cause them the 2012 elections.

It is no secret that ex-President Rawlings was a key player in electing Mills flagbearer of NDC for 2000, 2004 and 2008. It is no secret that ex-President Rawlings is a political force in Ghana’s landscape today. Mr. Jerry John Rawlings has played a key role in helping Prof Atta Mills rise to victory over Nana Akufo Addo in 2008. It is also not a secret that Mr. Rawlings would unlikely be an enthusiastic supporter of Prof Atta Mills in 2012 should he defeat his wife, Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings in the NDC July 2011 primary. For various reasons I think NDC as a party is in trouble. This was a wrong time for Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings to contest Mills.

President Mills is the face of the party. He is well liked by many Ghanaians for his level of honesty and integrity. He commands great respect even from the opposition in Parliament. At this stage we know that, if Mrs. Rawlings were to secure the NDC nomination it is far from clear that she would be able to garner enough support to defeat Nana Akufo Addo and the NPP in 2012 presidential elections.

My gut feeling is that in the end Spio Garbrah will step down and endorse Rawlings thereby bolstering Rawlings’ chances. I know it will be a fierce battle between Mills and Rawlings however, as a sitting president Mills still has a strong advantage. No matter how the Rawlings’ team dices it, Prof. Atta Mills will still have the advantage as the sitting incumbent in terms of the NDC primary, but support for the Rawlingses within the NDC is significant and should not be ignored. There is a strong possibility that President Mills could lose if he takes Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings for granted but I don’t foresee the latter. With his GAME team, who may also see their political (and economic) survival at stake I can foresee the delegates finally zeroing in for Mills. Even those who have come out openly to endorse Rawlings will secretly vote for Mills for some political favours .in the end

The level of animosity apparent within the NDC between the pro-and anti-Atta Mills factions is too lethal that if not resolved it could only intensify and provide the opposition party, NPP with ample ammunition to damage whichever NDC candidate emerged successful. A better way of NDC preventing defeat could be promising to give a key portfolio to Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings in the next cabinet. Would that be, the Foreign Affairs ministry once promised Dr. Spio Garbrah? You decide. At any rate, any attempt to play down on Rawlings’ demands to reunite the factions could be a recipe for disaster in 2012.

Copyright ©Okyere Bonna, MBA


The author is the author of many books including, Stopping the Carnage on Africa Roads, A New Agenda for Ghana (Vol. I & II), Ghana, Conversation and Development, Ghana, the Rediscovered Soccer Might (See: www.okyerebonna.com) And co- author of Traditional Institutions and Public Administration in Democratic Africa (See: http://www.africaninstitutions.com),

Columnist: Bonna, Okyere