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Opinions of Sunday, 27 February 2011

Columnist: Darko, Otchere

Re: Ghana needs only 3 political parties – Ocquaye

By Otchere Darko

“The Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Professor Mike Ocquaye says it is not in Ghana’s interest to have more than three main political parties.

He said the country’s democratic system can manage just three main parties namely, the New Patriotic Party (NPP), National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the Convention People's Party (CPP). According to Prof Ocquaye, this system will help electorates decide which of them is responsible for their well being.” *[Ghanaweb; General News of Wednesday, 23 February 201 Source: citifmonline.]

If the statement above had come from any other person, I would call it one of the annoying things that must be “ignored” and left to pass away. However, coming from Professor Mike Ocquaye, a PhD holder, a renowned exponent of democracy and human rights, and a Deputy Speaker in the current Parliament of Ghana’s Fourth Republic, the statement above must not be allowed to escape scrutiny and condemnation.

Professor Ocquaye is one of the loudest talking members of the Danquah-Busia tradition who justify the 1966 coup. One of the frequently used arguments by them to justify the overthrow of Nkrumah is the banning of the then United Party, and the adoption of the CPP as the only legitimate party in Ghana. If all parties in Ghana today, other than NPP, NDC and CPP are banned, how more legitimate will this “new ban” be in relation to human rights laws of Ghana and the world, and also in comparison to Nkrumah’s ban of the UP in the 1960s? If four, five, or more parties are bad, then why should three be right, and not one? In other words, why should the restriction of Ghanaians to one party be “undemocratic” while their restriction to three parties be “democratic”? The NPP is a clear “capitalist party”; NDC may be seen as “social democrats” heavily influenced by radical “foot-soldiers”; the CPP is a clear “socialist party”. There are Ghanaians, like me, who do not subscribe to any of the above three ideological “straight-jackets”. What about us? Don’t we have human rights? And also, if some parties should be proscribed, why should it not be NPP and NDC..... the two parties that have, together, failed the Fourth Republic through their failure to bring down corruption and greed during their tenures of office? Why should the third party that should be retained be CPP which has only one MP, and not PNC which has two MPs? Why should new parties that are “clean” be banned, while “dirty” and “thieving parties” like NPP and NDC be allowed to remain? Why should our electoral system close its doors to new parties and new breeds of politicians who may bring “hope” to Ghana, if Ghanaians ever open their eyes and vote for honest politicians, instead of voting for “thieves”? Who is more “extremely selfish”...... the man who kills all people in his hometown and leaves his “wife”, his “brother” and himself; or the one who kills all the people in his hometown and leaves only himself?

*I can never join party “A” that keeps quiet and condones wrong-doing, when one of its founding members openly “steals” furnishings belonging to the State. *I can also never join party “B” whose founder misrepresents himself to Ghanaians as “champion of the poor”, by complaining about “the rich” who flush their WCs with clean water when others cannot get water to drink; and yet who, when given the chance to change the things he complains so much about, builds for himself a mansion and leaves it “unoccupied”, and “to waste”; while still demanding that a “free” State accommodation taken by, or given to him should be rebuilt for him by his acquiescing party with poor taxpayers’ money..... after collecting two huge cash payments as “ESB” from the State, and also while continuing to draw monthly salaries for life as former President...... a rebuilding of a “free State accommodation” that got burnt by fire in a bizarre circumstance that no one can explain; and despite the fact that his own fully-completed mansion continues to lie unoccupied in the same city where he wants this burnt “free State accommodation” rebuilt for him, and where several poor Ghanaians sleep in front of shops at night, within his clear view. *Neither do I want to waste my time to join party “C” that spends all its time “reliving” the “bright memory” of its “past glory”, while minding less about the “dark cloud” lying in front of the immediate road ahead of it.

So, learned Professor of Political Science, Honourable Mike Ocquaye, if parties “A”, “B” and “C” above are the only three in Ghana, should people like me not have the right to form and belong to a new party that is different from those above?

*No, there should not be any limit to the number of parties that can exist in Ghana. The 1992 Constitution has set out the conditions under which parties can exist and operate in this country. These conditions are perfect for democracy, in my opinion. Some people may want to use the two-party American system as justification for setting a limit to parties in Ghana. We should not forget that in America, no member of a party can control it as if it is his own. In Ghana, however, parties “belong” to their “founders”. Founders want to dominate parties they founded. They want to keep new members as “back-burners”, even if the new members are better than the founding members. Non-founding Ghanaian party-members cannot, in reality, influence parties founded by “others”, as long as the founders are alive. This is why new parties will continue to be formed in Ghana until Ghanaians learn that parties should not be individually “owned” and “controlled”. Ghana should not do anything that will amount to condemning the whole nation to perpetual domination by NPP and NDC. If that happens, the consequence will be a future “rebellion” of some sort. *Let Ghanaians say: “No” to Professor Ocquaye’s “three-party Ghana” that is made up of only NPP, NDC and CPP.

Source: Otchere Darko; [This writer is a centrist, semi-liberalist, pragmatist, and an advocate for “inter-ethnic cooperation and unity”. He is an anti-corruption campaigner and a community-based development protagonist. He opposes the negative, corrupt, and domineering politics of NDC and NPP and actively campaigns for the development and strengthening of “third parties”. He is against “a two-party only” system of democracy {in Ghana}....... which, in practice, is what we have today.]