Feature Article of Thursday, 17 May 2012
Columnist: Sakyi, Kwesi Atta
... to the Plate towards the December 2012 Elections?
By Kwesi Atta Sakyi
16th May 2012
The two titans currently in Ghanaian politics are the ruling National Democratic Party (NDC), and the National Patriotic Party. These two parties are now perceived by the Ghanaian electorate as corrupt. So will it be wrong to say that we are faced with a dilemma as regards choice? To lump the two parties together as greedy and selfish, do we not have here a Hobson’s choice of choosing between the two or none at all? Does this portend political apathy in the upcoming election, whereby some registered voters might choose to stay away, as it were, by sitting on the fence? Since the inception of the 1992 Constitution, there has been a see-saw and ding-dong battle between NDC and NPP in the political arena. The NDC won two terms from 1992 to 2000, thereafter, the NPP also won two terms from 2000 to 2008. NDC bounced back from 2008 to date, and it is uncertain whether they will win a second term.
A political party is any organized group of people with national agenda to win elections and implement their political and economic plans, outlined in their manifesto, which they sell to the electorate through their electioneering campaigns. It is now common for political parties to hoodwink and bamboozle the gullible public with false promises. A lot of propaganda is bandied around in the media to mislead the public. There is a lot of mudslinging, character assassination, name calling and finger-pointing in a blame game. It is said that when two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers. I think Ghanaians are sick and tired of the horse trading and log rolling among the seemingly greedy politicians. What political parties need to do is to concentrate on how to solve national problems, instead of engaging in sordid acts of using every foul means to destroy their political adversaries. What we pray for are transparent and democratic fair elections, whereby the will of the people reigns. Since the return to multi-partyism and plural politics in 1992, a lot of water has gone under the bridge. The political landscape has been interesting to watch. There is intense media hype and some interesting vibes from the political players. Each word or sentence which comes out of the mouth of a politician is put under the microscope or subjected to exegesis. Some words are taken out of context by onlookers and observers to gain political mileage or to score political points. With a plethora of FM stations, the din and cacophony from the political stables have been beyond allowable decibels. Wordsmiths and spin-doctors have twisted words out of the mouths of politicians to serve their parochial interests. Indeed freedom of information has been overstretched. It is however uncertain whether the ruling NDC can extend their tenure by winning the coming elections. The Ghanaian electorate will decide, based on their evaluation of the performance of the NDC over these last four years.
Also in the political fray are the marginal political parties who have the floating votes. These include the CPP, PNP, PNC and the PPP. Merger of some of these parties is on the cards. Let us hope they manage to
pull through their act and offer the Ghanaian electorate a wider choice. These are the dark horses or spoilers who can be wooed to form a coalition government. We wait to see how these minnows will slug it out with the heavyweights, come December 2012. While there seems to be solidarity in the NPP camp, the opposite of schism and fragmentation seems to be the case with the NDC. There is a seemingly big rift between the Rawlingses and the incumbent president, the flag bearer of the NDC. This rift does not bode well for the fortunes of the NDC in the forthcoming elections. It is like the biblical analogy of a house divided among itself. It will not be far from the truth to state that some foot soldiers and some party gurus of the NDC are angry with the turn of events, following the Sunyani Convention to elect their flag bearer. These are the financiers and campaigners of the party. Political watchers have been skeptical about the so called macroeconomic gains made under the current political dispensation. They contend that the figures do not translate into wealth or jobs for the ordinary man in the street. Is it a case of money illusion or being short-termist rather than long termist? However, economists often say that in the long run we are all dead, so Ghanaians cannot wait for aeons before they can put food on the table or a decent roof over their head or a piece of decent cloth over their back. Many youths are unemployed, the cedi is depreciating fast, inflation has run away, our external debt stock keeps piling up,corruption is perceived to gone haywire, as it is systemic and endemic in the judiciary, customs, immigration, civil service and in the tendering of government contracts. Critics observe that the current levels of corruption are carryovers from previous regimes. Whatever the case is, the ordinary Ghanaian may be better informed than myself about their problems and they will make their own informed choices, come 7th December 2012. Some of our people have lost faith in both the NDC and NPP, as they say that they are all birds of the same feather. Politics is about numbers and financial muscle, because it is costly to cover the whole country campaigning. Some political parties tend to engage in the crime of treating or bribing the constituents with gifts. This is the genesis of corruption and the politics of acrimony and winner-takes-all. When we start funding all political parties equally, as it is done in some civilized countries, I think we can reduce the cankerworm of corruption and “all-die-be-die” politics. We will also lay the ghost of political malpractices such as gerrymandering, logrolling, horse trading, rigging and politics of insults. Perhaps we can also start thinking of proportional representation in parliament.
May the best organized party win, and may we see peaceful and fair elections. With oil wealth in the political equation, we can conclude that Ghana is at the take-off stage of W.W. Rostow’s 5 Stage Model of economic growth. In this case, we need sustained political stability and macroeconomic gains in agricultural and infrastructural development. In about 40 to 50 years, Ghana will become an emergent economy like Malaysia, Czech Republic or Indonesia. This is why we need to have proactive and visionary leaders who can lead us to realize our Ghana dream. We need selfless and patriotic leaders, the likes of Gandhi, Nkrumah and Mahathir Muhammed. For accelerated growth, we need champion leaders who are altruistic, principled and hardworking. We also require to reform our current Constitution which has become moribund. Our Council of State should be reconstituted into a second chamber legislature or bicameralism. We require heavy doses of decentralized structures to accelerate growth and developments at the grassroots. Constitutional reform is now a desideratum and condition sine qua non for rapid economic growth because it will serve as the engine and driver of growth. Our growth model should be agro-based and we should heed the advice of Busubrum Kofi Annan, by adopting Sir Arthur Lewis’ Structural model, based on liberating surplus labour in agriculture or avoiding the disguised labour paradigm. We should tap heavily into our human capital or intellectual property by using growth in tertiary education as growth poles, after the manner of Malaysia or Myrdal’s cumulative concentration thesis. Ghanaians need to be adventurous, innovative and hadworking like the Koreans, Chinese, Japanese, Germans and the British. We need to save part of whatever we earn, to put the accelerator and multiplier concepts into motion, after the manner of the Harrod-Dormar. Capital deepening model.We have to embrace the Ndoboa or cooperative societies model to harness and pool our small savings for big projects.
Come December 2012, vote wisely and avoid anarchy, for we have a huge reputation to defend.