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Opinions of Sunday, 9 March 2008

Columnist: Antwi, William

Clapping for Jerry Rawlings, Prof Mills And The NDC!

Democracy December 2008: Clapping for Jerry Rawlings, Prof Mills And The NDC!

Hate them or love them, John Jerry Rawlings, Prof Atta Mills and all the gallant men and women of the NDC including the then National Security Advisor, Mr. Kofi Totobi Quakyi, pointedly showed the rest of the world how an African nation can peacefully transfer political power without manipulating election results. They yielded to the will of the people when they lost the December 2000 presidential and parliamentary elections. That was a class act worthy of emulation by other leaders who want to be called democrats. Action, they say, speaks louder than words. They did not only talk about democracy. They walked the full length of it! In fact, that historic feat catapulted Ghana to the very high pedestal of democratic nations - at least, in terms of how we choose our leaders notwithstanding some obvious bottlenecks in our electoral process. The succeeding NPP government is still enjoying the good fruits from that memorable and historic power transfer.

Seriously, clapping for Rawlings, Prof Mills and the NDC should not be out of order! They deserve it. However, it is becoming increasingly obvious that by some dark designs, the judicial branch of our government and our Electoral Commission seem determined to undercut this great achievement of the NDC. For example, as we write this little piece, the dispute surrounding the results of the December 7, 2004 presidential election is still pending before our High Court, which includes, our almighty Supreme Court. Isn’t it depressing that such a time-strapped case should still be hanging around the neck of the High Court when the case was instituted in January 2005? Yes, as far back as January 2005! One is left wondering why our High Court has not timely and resolutely dealt with this serious electoral matter which actually borders on the legitimacy of the Presidency integrity of our electoral process? Is it a crude attempt to stall the process in favor of the President and the NPP or what? On a more practical note, what is so herculean about publishing the ward-to-ward results of the said election after boldly declaring the President the winner? Or, does the Electoral Commission have something to hide from discerning Ghanaians spearheaded by Mr. Kofi Portuphy, Col (Rtd) Sowu and Rojo Mettle-Nunoo - all of the NDC fame? Why do we keep manufacturing problems from such simple issues for ourselves? Are we an accursed race or what? So-so depressing!

Despite all the rosy talk about Ghana being the beacon of emerging democracies on our blighted continent, the upcoming general elections in December present a very crucial and critical transition. Why should Prof Mills’ political opponents be scared of his bare-knuckle, straight forward, honest kind of politics when he talks about the dire consequences that might befall the country should the ruling NPP rig the December elections? Isn’t that a fair warning? What is stopping us from learning from the horrific tragedies in full display in Kenya? What is so wrong drawing attention to the alarming rate of vote rigging, vote buying, voter suppression, stuffings of ballot boxes, destruction of ballot boxes and papers and manipulating election results especially in situations where the judiciary seems paralyzed in rectifying these electoral abnormalities? And, oh! Did I forget to mention bloated voter registers in some strongholds of the ruling government?


In a country struggling mightily to deal with near intractable economic and health problems - not to mention reflexive corruption among the top echelons of political power - we do not need any political chaos sparked by vote rigging by the ruling government. The larger and more important issue is: Do we seriously think we can make any meaningful and decent economic take off without first stabilizing the way we choose our leaders? In other words, can substantive democracy survive in Ghana san procedural democracy? How we resolve this mighty issue will go a long way to determine our willingness and ability to fully embrace democracy and all the goodies it brings. In short, there is practically no way our country will ever know any kind of economic peace if we do not create for ourselves a stable political environment.

It is, thus, the stringent view of the present writer that there is no way we can profitably maximize and mine our enormous human and material resources if our leaders do not put in place a fair electoral mechanism for choosing our leaders. Yes, if they cannot organize simple, free and fair elections to keep the engine of democracy revving, can anybody imagine how they can put together any meaningful economic and social policies to bring comfort to many of our broken homes and families without, first, thinking about their dirty pockets?

In truth, the greatest threat to peace and stability in Ghana is not the will of the less fortunate and downtrodden but, rather, the wickedness of our corrupt political leadership! Just take a look at the contemptuous manner they are flaunting their God-knows-where-it came-from wealth - individuals who seven years ago had nothing - and we mean nothing! Does anybody think that such shameless and vicious characters are prepared to relinquish power peacefully? In other words, are they prepared to submit to the general will of the people while enjoying their incumbency? I do not think so! And the simple reason is that they are scared stiff about the haunting skeletons in their closets. Clearly put, they do not want their unsuspecting country folks to know about their heinous political and economic misdeeds while in power. If not, why should they hit such ridiculous low notes in their insane drive to put their puppets in power against the will of the electorate? Therefore, as they continue to churn out politically savvy themes like "zero tolerance for corruption", "positive change", "property-owning democracy" - which actually means stealing through the nose of the law - etc, they clandestinely - and at times openly - put in place fraudulent electoral schemes like bloating of voters’ registers to undermine the very integrity of an electoral system they have sworn to protect.

In a sense, they are closet anarchists hiding behind a so-called "property-owning democracy" to perpetuate their rancid corrupt and bankrupt regimes. Their aim is not to create a stable political environment necessary for an eventual economic take off. Their aim is to perpetuate their rule by any means possible! That is a poisonous recipe for political instability!


Hopefully, President Kuffour can leave one lasting legacy for those of us living and posterity by overseeing a flawless general election in December. He owes us that!

Our High Court and the Electoral Commission must start building trust and confidence in all stakeholders. That means our courts and Electoral Commission must not only be managed by intelligent and honest citizens with fortitude, but men and women who are solidly dedicated to reinforcing the tenets of our electoral laws. For example, not men and women whose sole aim of occupying their various offices is to slant judgments, rulings, decisions and orders to favor their political friends. We all know that where their decisions are dictated more by ideology and politics, national institutions like the judiciary and Electoral Commissions lose their stature in society and we know who the real losers are. The Electoral Commission can give practical meaning to transparency and sunshine if it readily makes available to the public the full and complete results of the upcoming elections. And we mean the results from each and every ward in the country. This will definitely prevent the results from being manipulated by the ruling party as was done in December 2004. Also, our Chief Justice, as the CEO of the judiciary, should put in place a judicial mechanism to deal swiftly and efficiently with all electoral disputes. The geological speed with which her outfit is dealing with the disputed results of the December 7, 2004 is not only scandalous but a judicial eyesore!

Also, international monitoring teams can play a meaningful role in safeguarding the integrity of the system especially in situations where the general election is projected to be highly contentious like the one coming up in December. To make these monitoring teams effective, advanced democracies should shun, and in fact, must not issue visas to leaders of countries that engage in electoral fraud. They should be resolute in demanding electoral accountability.

However, in the long run, we must seriously consider investing massively in the education of our people instead of building "presidential castles", celebrating 50th anniversaries, buying SUVs and bullet proof cars etc. For all we care to know, an educated and enlightened population serve as a bulwark against electoral shenanigan and fraud.

Can President Kuffour and the NPP emulate ex-President John Jerry Rawlings and the NDC?

The jury is still out there!

Thank you.


Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.