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Opinions of Thursday, 18 October 2012

Columnist: Ata, Kofi

Are the Rawlingses a Danger to Ghana’s Democracy?

By Kofi Ata, Cambridge, UK

The Electoral Commission recently approved the registration of the youngest political party to contest the December General (presidential and parliamentary) Elections. During the preparatory work towards the registration there were rumours that the Rawlingses were behind the formation of the new party but the two of them never denied or confirmed the rumours. It was obvious from the beginning that the Rawlingses formed the party as a grand scheme to deny the NDC a second term and to fulfil Nana Konadu’s presidential ambition but on the guise of probity and accountability. As expected, her coronation as presidential candidate of the National Democratic Party (NDP) took place in Kumasi on Saturday. It is this grand deception and insatiable greed for power by the Rawlingses that is the body of this article.

Some Ghanaweb readers may probably think that I am obsessed with the Rawlingses because this is my fifth article on the former first couple in connection with the December Presidential Elections and particularly, the presidential ambition of former first lady, who attempted to unseat the late President Mills as NDC presidential candidate for the December elections but failed catastrophically. Both NDC and the Rawlingses have never recovered from the humiliation that they suffered at the NDC National Congress in Suyani. Others may assume that I have a vendetta against Konadu’s because of her presidential ambition. I can assure readers that I am neither obsessed with them nor hold anything against Konadu. On the contrary, my articles, including this one are contributions to strengthening democracy in Ghana.

I acknowledge that Nana Konadu has every right as a Ghanaian to contest for any political office in the land under the 1992 Constitution. I have no qualms with that. However, for those of us who have had the opportunity of knowing and working with the former first couple, I can bet on my last penny that the two are not democrats, do not believe in democracy, have never been and would never be. They are autocrats and their actions and omissions since Rawlings left office, particularly, since NDC returned to power would be unacceptable in any true democratic country, except of course, in a developing country such as Ghana. For the 19 years that Rawlings and his wife controlled Ghana, they always had it their way. They were in-charge, total and absolute.

The former first couple found it difficult or refused to adapt to their new roles as former President and First Lady when NPP came to power in 2001. They prayed and hoped that they would be in control again if and when the party they founded, NDC returned to power. That was why they imposed the late Mills on the party and ensured that he was retained as the party’s presidential candidate on the premise that they would be in control again by proxy. They even attempted unsuccessfully to impose a running mate on Mills, someone in their view they could manipulated and control. When that belief failed to materialise under the Mills administration, they became restless and plotted not only to remove him as the party’s presidential candidate but to replace him with Nana Konadu. When that also fell through, instead of going home lick their wounds, they activated Plan C by forming a party with the sole aim of preventing NDC from wining the forthcoming elections, a victory that they believe should be theirs, so that they can rule Ghana again. Is Ghana for the Rawlingses?

How can such diabolical schemes and machinations purely to satisfy one family’s political ambition be democratic? Why should the Rawlingses always be in-charge? Konadu contested the NDC primaries and lost but because she is an autocrat she could not accept defeat in good or bad faith. Is it not because she wants to be in control by hook or crook that she had to form a party where no one would have the guts to challenge her for the leadership and the right to be the presidential candidate of the party? I know Jerry Rawlings and Konadu are not naive, stupid or deluded to believe that she can win the presidential race. They know perfectly well that she cannot win, therefore, their objective is not about wining but rather to stop NDC from securing a second term so that they can retake control over NDC.

It’s sad to know that Jerry Rawlings has become a stooge for his wife to the extent that he is prepared to sacrifice his hard won legacy over the last three decades. Their calculation that should NDC go into opposition, they will be able to take back “their party” is not only inimical to their own political legacy but also dangerous to democracy in Ghana. First, they may miscalculate terribly and if NDC secures a second term in December, their influence over the party would evaporate into thin air. Second, if NDC goes into opposition as they wish, there is the possibility that the party may disintegrate and split or some leading members may join other parties. In that case they would be left with a weak party, though they can merge NDC and NDP. Third, NDC may remain in opposition for decades should the plan of the Rawlingses come into fruition and current and future members and leaders of NDC may never forgive them for their devious plans.

The dangers posed to democracy in Ghana by the Rawlingses include a risk to strengthening political and democratic institutions in the country. Currently, there are two main parties in Ghana. The rest are weak and incapable of wining major elections. Should the actions and omissions of the former first couple seriously weaken NDC, Ghana could become a one party state by default. That would not be good for the country’s democracy and future development. On the other hand, if they are able to take back control of NDC and reorganise it into a formidable party in the near future to win elections, they would entrenched themselves into every fabric of the Ghanaian political and democratic institutions by appointing their cronies and sycophants into important positions. They will use their new found power to weaken other parties and make Ghana a de facto one party state. Last but not the least, NDC may become a family party and only “a Rawlings” can be a presidential candidate of the party. In other words, Ghana could become a dynasty. These are potential dangers that Ghanaians should not under estimate.

The idea of a political party being run and managed as their personal property is very troubling and should be resisted with all legal and democratic means. Why did Konadu register the NDC logo as her intellectual property? Is it not because she and her husband believed that the party is their personal property? Even in communist countries, party founders do not own the party. Such views are dangerous and a threat to deepening democracy in Ghana.

It is the right of Nana Konadu and Rawlings to form a party but what gives them the right that a Rawlings should be the presidential candidate and what makes them to believe that a Rawlings is the best to rule Ghana? Indeed, were the two be in a developed democracy, Nana Konadu would not dare contest for an elected office because she would be subjected to effective scrutiny and accountability by the media for the two decades that they were in absolute control of the nation’s affairs, especially, her role in human rights abuses. But because Ghana’s democracy is weak, the media is nothing to be proud of when it comes to holding former and current leaders accountable, the Rawlingses have the audacity to still shout about probity and accountability. A first lady who ordered the arrest, detention and abuse of her daughter’s boyfriend just because the young man decided to end the relationship and publicly justified the abuse? Is this the person who wants to be President of Ghana and the media is quiet whilst some are even encouraging her?

I am not sure if Rawlings is confused or age is catching up with him. His double edge tactics would backfire on him and the earlier he made up his mind either to support his wife or NDC the better. He cannot continue to pretend that he is an honest broker between NDC and NDP. I am finding his contradictory positions very nauseating and deceptive. First, he asked Nana Akufo Addo to give him assurance that under his Presidency the security and safety of NDC members would be guaranteed. Then within days he goes to Kumasi to allege that the NDC government is so corrupt that, they are scared of losing power for fear of prosecution under NPP. If that really is the case, why is the chief priest of probity and accountability begging Akufo Addo not to prosecute them in the future?

Jerry, please give us a break and do not take it for granted that you can fool Ghanaians all the time. Is not because you are scared for your own future under an Akufo Addo Presidency for the fact that some leading members of the NPP have called for the indemnity clause in the Constitution to be removed and that was real reason why you demanded public assurance from Akufo Addo that you will not be tried for overthrowing a constitutional government? In other words, Jerry you are the one worried about NPP‘s return to power and the potential for your prosecution if the indemnity clause is repealed? Instead, you are pretending to be concerned about NDC members, some of who you claim are corrupt but at the same time should be spared from prosecution by Akufo Addo. What a travesty of contradictions from the king of probity and accountability?

He also claimed that NDC and NDP are sister parties. Really? At best, NDC and NDP could be likened to two men who are in love with the same woman. They are bitter rivals and probably willing to kill their rival to get the undivided attention of the woman. How could Jerry describe the two parties as sister parties when in reality they are enemies who cannot be in the same room for even minutes without attacking each other? Sister parties strategise and collaborate with each other to win elections, sometimes by one party agreeing to withdraw their own candidate in favour of the other to ensure electoral victory. In the case of NDC and NDP, the opposite is true. They are strategising against each other.

I know you are a husband who truly believes in your marriage vows but should that also incapacitate you from making rational decisions and to follow your wife blindly? What you and Konadu are doing is nothing less than “cutting your nose to spite your face”. In the end both you and NDC would be licking your wounds. Konadu can still play a meaningful role in Ghana’s development without necessarily becoming president. In fact, she has been doing that for nearly three decades now and she could continue to do so to guarantee your place in history for generations to come. Do not let your naked ambition for power to obliterate your places in history.

For Ghanaians who are sitting on the fence unconcerned and believing that it’s just NDC family feud, my advice is, be warned. Ghanaians should be honest and voice out their discontent about the power crazy couple because if they are able to crown Konadu or a Rawlings president one day, what would stop them from going after the other parties, park the judiciary and other constitutional bodies with yes men and women to do their bidding in a constitutional dictatorship? Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Kofi Ata, Cambridge, UK