Feature Article of Saturday, 26 December 2015

Columnist: Kwarteng, Francis

Ghana Deserves Better: The Scourge Of Partisan Politics

INTRODUCTION
Much has been written about the way in which everything in Ghana is politicized. Of course, the habitual politicization of issues in Ghana is not merely a concocted perception but a veritable phenomenon with sometimes serious implications for development priorities and policy strategy. We are not however saying politics, in and of itself, is inevitably bad—far from it. Rather, it is the needless politicization of every strand of issue at the expense of strategic prioritization of national development dogmas that the corrective praxis of political and moral critique should seek to negate.

To a certain extent this praxis of critique seems to be missing from the spirit of the Constitution of the Fourth Republic, hence calls from various quarters for its revision to fit the challenging scope of democratic modernism and ideological inclusiveness. It may also be true that our uncritical domestication of some borrowed concepts of multiparty democracy from without has a lot to do with partisan politics. Here, by “partisan politics” we are referring to the overly politicization of national discourse without or limited consideration for the pragmatism of patriotism, of progressive nationalism.

However one may want to look at the complex of ideas underlying the unwholesomeness or divisive character of partisan politics, there is no doubt that the strategic constitutionalism of executive dominance has fed and continues to feed this muddled perception of political (mis)calculation in the Fourth Republic. The so-called Beijing Consensus provides a model political calculus of this phenomenon, as well. It also worked so well in the first few decades of the American Republic. Among other things, the concept helped usher in social-political cohesion, ideological solidarity, and national development at a measured pace commensurate with the driven collective psychology of political and moral leadership.

Lest we are not misunderstood, we want to make it clear that executive dominance is morally acceptable if it derives from or is a function of popular will exercised through the elective franchise or parliamentary majority. After all, at least in theory, marriage of the elective franchise and a patriotic national conscience makes for a semblance of moral pragmatism and effective management of a corporate body politic. It does also mean that democracy is not necessarily or always a productive expression of the popular will. It has been shown now and then that popular sovereignty can and does officially endorse incompetence at the polls or impose executive mandate on a wrong if unqualified political candidate. This is lost on many.


This may be due to the fact that multiparty democracy is not viewed the way a chameleon or amoeboid locomotion is designed. Unfortunately, popular sovereignty does not always succeed in staying in tune with this fickle character regarding the political geometry of popular expression as exercised via the elective franchise. The political arithmetic of multiparty democracy could be as flamboyantly Orwellian and predictively unpredictable as the mindless psychology of Darwinian evolution.

MULTIPARTY DEMOCRACY, CONSTITUTIONALISM, AND EXECUTIVE DOMINANCE

Still, there is so much about Ghana’s Constitution that needs revising to meet the political, economic, and moral deficits of the Fourth Republic. In Ghana, however, the Indemnity Clause finds itself entangled in the political gridlock within the tactical constitutional oversight of executive dominance. That is, the Clause reinforces the theory and praxis of executive immunity and provides a necessary if powerful alibi for executive dereliction and malfeasance. In both theory and practice this immunity extends to a particular sitting political fraternity, that is, incumbency, to which the executive belongs in a multiparty democracy. In this arrangement also the Opposition merely becomes an inconsequential appendage in the matrix of multiparty relations.


As a matter of fact the executive is too powerful, and unnecessarily so, insofar as its relative absolute autonomy in the discharge or exercise of its mandate and prerogatives. The benefits from the exercise of this mandate usually or rather disproportionally accrue to the executive’s party, financiers, and grassroots supporters. Therein lie the specter of executive conceit, of the political lopsidedness of the winner-takes-all executive dominance in the body politic of the Fourth Republic. However, unlike the patriotic character of the Nkrumah era, the Fourth Republic came into being imbued with the political personality of self-aggrandizement, group or ethnic solidarity, and sycophantic foolishness. This is characteristic of the present Opposition in which the specter of duopolistic ethnocentrism and ideological factionalism threaten its political viability and potentially undermines its mandate in respect of its proactive chaperonage of executive excesses.


While incumbency exhibits tolerance for ethnic diversity, the Opposition openly displays its hyperbolic addiction to political ethnocentrism and glorification of ethnic chauvinism. Those in the Opposition, of a certain ethnic personality, who refuse to register their sycophantic allegiance with or pander to its baldhead, scheming and Machiavellian leader, of a different ethnic personality, automatically become pariahs in a party that prides itself on tolerance for free expression or diversity of opinions. Yet for reasons of political convenience, these sanctimonious ethnic chauvinists who occupy privileged positions in the highest hierarchy of this ethnocentric political party shamelessly bring in brilliant technocrats from ethnic enclaves they despise to do their bidding.


These political adjutants strategically resort to prevarication in doing the bidding of their pay masters. Yet second-class citizenship as a function of vice-presidency is the niche reserved for these useful idiots, if there is even a vacant space in this niche at all for these slimy political opportunists. They are assigned political second-class citizenship in return for their agitational propaganda or agitprop intellectual obsequiousness in behalf of their less intellectually endowed ethnocentric pay masters. We see this in Danquah-Busia-Dombo, with sporadic elision or removal of Dombo from the tripartite name. In fact Dombo may have been appended to that terroristic duopoly as a convenient afterthought. This constitutes an excellent example of the politics of Machiavellian expediency.


Even so, the idea of scheming and Machiavellian pseudo-Nkrumahists like Freddie Blay and Akufo-Addo joining this ethnocentric political party adds to the evolving complex characterology of this ideologically parochial fraternity. This political fraternity, an institution known for its entrenched practice of ethnocentric duopoly, primarily of the Akyem and Asante ethnic stock, an elitist institution whose political antecedence is defined by a track record of terrorism, assassination attempts on Nkrumah, massacre of children and innocent men and women, unpatriotism, developmental Ludditism, personality clashes, clandestine collaborations with Western intelligence to destabilize Ghana, etc., under the leadership of Akufo-Addo has seen the human faces of internal dissension crushed under the guise of bringing discipline to the party and democratizing its constitutional structures.


This is far from the truth. There are those who are convinced that the scheming, dogmatic, and doctrinaire Akufo-Addo is cracking the whip of ideological totalitarianism using the party’s constitution to enforce ethno-partisan sycophancy and to impose Akyem ethnic supremacy on the party. If this is in fact true which it appears may be the case, it does not bode well for Ghana’s fledgling multiparty democracy.

THE SCOURGE OF PARTISAN POLITICS

This is not to say it is all rosy with incumbency. The spate of seeming corruption scandals, judgment debts, and alleged overpricing of national projects are, in and of themselves, great cause for concern. But incumbency works in collaboration with parliament, made up of members of the Opposition and members of the party to which the executive belongs, on these national projects and their corresponding budgeting constraints including pricing. This therefore implies that parliamentary corruption is necessarily a question of collective culpability in most instances, where Opposition members go along with the majority, only to go on radio and television and lambast incumbency for parliamentary corruption when instances of parliamentary corruption become public knowledge. The relative pervasiveness of judicial corruption further complicates the revolutionary politics of reform.


Ghanaians are integral part of this organized criminality of a pervasive national character, since they are the ones who periodically vote either of these two parties to public office to continue perpetrating bureaucratic criminality of every conceivable complexion on their behalf in a revolving door of impunity. In other words Ghanaians have themselves to blame for the poor state of affairs, for neither party has assumed the high office without the benefit of popular consent or through the barrel of the gun. Electoral imprimatur has always been the seal of direct access to the high office even if the process to that office is rigged. Yet it is Ghanaians themselves who can change the present social, moral, and political order. It is against this background that overly politicizing national problems such as political corruption inundates creative avenues to practical remediation strategies.


Those parliamentary opportunists who cite lack of adequate time allowable for serious parliamentary deliberations are the same who will resist passage of the Freedom of Information Bill (FOIB), choose the Ghana Hybrid System over Production Sharing Agreement, or refuse to even acknowledge the strategic importance of filibuster in the running ledger of parliamentary deliberation efforts. These ethnocentric political jihadists are the bane of Ghana’s development and social cohesion. They deploy equalization in the form of political capital when they are the government in power. Their political opponents, on the other hand, resort to pestering childish sensationalism and excessive politicization of issues when their perceived political leverage is consigned to a political tangent of numerical irrelevancy. It is public knowledge that schadenfreude politics rather than the politics of group solidarity and national development, has become the hallmark of Ghana’s multiparty democracy in the Fourth Republic. Partisan politics feeds schadenfreude politics.

Even more importantly, one resorts to property-owning democracy and the other to social democracy as defining contrasts of their unique political personalities. Yet both ideologies are no more than a mere political rhetoric synonymous with institutional kleptomania. None has effectively demonstrated that establishing such a political caliphate of Machiavellian deception, wicked lies, greed, and Orwellian materialism is impossible under their respective ideological melodies. Lack of meritocracy and sanctimonious sermonizing have become important tools for manipulating public psychology in running down Ghana. None has also demonstrated keenness for upholding national laws when such laws catch up with corrupt party officials.


This is because laws are by themselves useless without public knowledge of their existential power of assertiveness via fair and appropriate channels of enforcement. Deterrent and teachable precedents are therefore lost on that account. Partisan political pursuit and enforcement of transparency, probity, and accountability become a highly emotional rhetoric of boastful emptiness in electioneering and post-election politics. Ghanaians seem blind to these actualities. What is more, religion, blind faith in the clergy, and partisan executive flirtation with Ghana’s corrupt clergy compound the Ghanaian dilemma. The popularity of prosperity theology and the liberal manner Ghana’s corrupt clergy invokes the halo of divine grace as a preponderating counterweight to mortal incorruptibility further immunizes public psychology against any creeping qualms of corruptibility.


Corruption has therefore become so normalized in the body politic as to defy moral logic and corrective dignation of the human person. Thus the culture of impunity takes over public psychology, gnawing at it and leaving a cancerous state in its stead. In this regard, those agitating for coup d’état and firing squads are missing the point. Human nature is more complex than the politics of ballistic penance. On another level one cannot simply deny or ignore the spiritual component of the corruptibility of human nature. There may even be an economic-genetic basis for corruption. This calls for a new kind of revolutionary politics in which a political platform that is not beholden to Ghana’s duopolistic polarities is given a chance to demonstrate a new and radical capacity for problem-solving. This is why some commentators are advocating a third force to replace the partisan duopolistic stranglehold on public psychology.


And it is not as if such a bold proposal or political enterprise of a mediating third political force is entitled to an easy means of execution. Such a theoretical third political force has a lot of work to do to convince the masses of the strategic viability of its ideological potentiation and therefrom, its capacity for transforming society as opposed to the architectonic dereliction of the two major parties.

THE AMERICAN EXAMPLE

A number of factors militate against the full blossoming of non-establishment political parties, whether the experience is in Ghana or abroad. Meanwhile, the seeming particularity of Ghana’s duopolistic political landscape is shared by other polities. In America, for instance, the Democratic Party and the Republican Party have collaborated in stifling the emergence of a third force. Both have used the courts to frustrate the emergence of a third force that potentially threatens their duopolistic dictatorship. Both parties founded the Commission of Presidential Debates, a non-profit organization to regulate presidential debates, with its primary aim of excluding third political parties from taking part in the only nationally televised presidential debates. A number of key American states have also successfully sued third parties to prevent them from making appearances on ballot. Third parties have also sued both major parties to have their way but, apparently, without much success.

Americans are gradually beginning to realize that their duopoly is a political charade, a one-party body politic. Polls conducted in the last twenty years or so continue to show a positive incremental gradient favoring a third party to challenge the creative monopoly of America’s partisan duopoly. Americans continue to hold the view that their two major political parties are corrupt, that both parties and their divisive politics somehow contribute to bureaucratic inefficiency and corruption and social polarization, and that both parties do not represent them. In a nutshell, these reasons undergird the evolving popular gravitation of public opinion toward a third party in the American body politic as revealed in opinion polls. In the final analysis, the very nature of America’s Electoral College itself makes the forceful emergence of third parties nearly prohibitively difficult.

Of course, America’s partisan duopoly is a deceptive cover for “dictatorship of the minority” or “tyranny of the minority,” an Orwellian phraseology for the political influence of its wealthy minority—corporatism. In a related context, Ghana’s partisan duopoly makes the forceful emergence of a third political party a near-prohibitive enterprise. Further, incumbency has the political advantage of bureaucracy and state resources at its disposal. The fractured or fragmented Opposition elements make it easier for the two major political parties to run roughshod over them. Also, the feeble and incorruptible character of public psychology, the political sycophancy of ethnic allegiances, the question of mass poverty, and the political illiteracy of the masses play to the gallery—of duopolistic partisanship.

WHAT IS AT STAKE

After all, we all know why the present Opposition has bought into the Machiavellian politics of scheming and dangerous pseudo-Nkrumahists like Freddie Blay, Kweku Baako, and Akufo-Addo. We also know why incumbency has bought into the opportunistic politics of quasi-Nkrumahist like Kwesi Pratt. Kwesi Nduom is as much an opportunistic, scheming and Machiavellian politician as Freddie Blay. Having said that, it is not our intention to advocate for the political emergence of the modern CPP per se. We simply want a coalition—a coalition of the Ghanaian Diaspora with profound technocratic expertise and patriotic members from the two major political parties—of a focused third force with ideological and practical investments in a strong political philosophy with deep taproots in policies of national development, patriotism, and national solidarity to replace Ghana’s partisan duopoly.

Namely, a coalition whose constitution does not necessarily elect Ghanaians to public office on ethnic considerations but on meritocracy, social justice, gender equality, patriotism, ethnic inclusiveness, industry, and sound technocratic expertise against the backcloth of public discourse and elective franchise. The Ghanaian media have an important role to play in all these. Such a coalition should not pander to that section of the sycophantic media with their Machiavellian partisanship, bought conscience, and general lack of reportorial criticality on many issues of national importance. For instance, soli, short for “solidarity” in the vocabulary of media politics, could potentially undermine critical and fair reportage on issues. It should be scrapped.


And reportorial criticality comes with a deep understanding of political philosophy, development economics, international relations, development sociology, macro- and micro-economics, law, sociology, mathematics, science and technology, critical and analytic thinking, reliability engineering, literature, critical theory, history, information technology, techniques of intelligence gathering, religion, technocracy, banking and microfinance, Afrocentric theory, urban studies, management science, politics, media criticism, environmentalism, industrialization, gender equality, quality mass education, globalization, and what have you.

CONCLUSION

We mention the media because they an important part of the problem, that of promoting partisan politics, political ethnocentrism, and political sycophancy, all potential menace to national security and internal cohesion. It is therefore essential that the coalition we have in mind should pursue a political philosophy that looks beyond the political ethnocentrism and ideological partisanship of corporate Ghana. It may help however help if this third force can make Nkrumahism its ideological fulcrum, with the support of the inclusion of other progressive ideologies. We hope Ghanaians reconsider our proposal and work hard to kick out the two major political parties. Getting the cabals and enclaves of kleptocrats from Ghana’s duopoly should be of primary concern to all well-meaning Ghanaians. There is also no reason why the Attorney General of Ghana should be glued to the Ministry of Justice. There is no point belaboring how this institutional marriage encourages bureaucratic corruption.


Let us therefore try a new political force, for it is high time we moved past the ideological parochialism of Ghana’s entrenched duopoly, a proposition that has taken so long to rear its head for popular consideration and adoption. In the end we may have to appeal to Ghanaians to do right by themselves, given that they know better other than merely paying servile homage to political parties that do not care about their plight, patriotism, human dignity, and national development, with the calculating commission of Ghana’s duopolistic manipulation of public psychology. We strongly believe that the era which saw the political methodology of duopolistic manipulation of the public conscience should be a thing of the past. Let Ghanaians show those two parties the door if they care for their future and the future of posterity. This is a generous dictate of common sense and moral sense. A wise man, they say, is the one who does not allow his balls to be stepped on twice.


How about the wise woman?

REFERENCES

1) Kwame Botwe-Asamoah. “Adieu To Dr. Nduom’s Machiavellian Tactics To Get Ahead In The CPP.” Modernghana. Feb. 25, 2012.

2) Kwame Botwe-Asamoah. “Fallacies Of J.B. Danquah’s Heroic Legacy.” Ghanaweb (Five Parts).

3) Kwame Botwe-Asamoah. “K.A. Busia: His Politics of Demagoguery, National Disintegration And Autocracy.” Ghanaweb. March 7, 2007.

4) Prof. Lungu. “By What Measure Did Ghana Grow 500% Under NPP, Dr. Bawumia?” Ghanaweb (Two Parts).

5) Prof Lungu. “Publish Justice Appau Commission Report On Judgment Debts, Mr. Mahama.

6) Kobina Antobam. “Bawumia Is A Glorified Bean Counter.” Ghanaweb. Nov. 30, 2015.

7) Kwesi Adu. “Kufuor Dares Us, We Respond.” The Insight Newspaper. Jan. 9, 2014.

8) Solomon Kwawukume. “Ghana Lost $6.004 Billion In Oil Revenue, Five Years Into Oil Production.” Ghanaweb. Oct., 24, 2015.

9) Arthur Kennedy. “Chasing The Elephant Into The Bush: The Politics Of Complacency.”

10) Arthur Kennedy. “Stop The Violence In Our Politics.” Ghanaweb. Sep. 19, 2015.

11) Arthur Kennedy. “The Politics Of Vilification.” Ghanaweb. Sep. 20, 2015.

12) Kofi Kissi Dompere. “The Theory Of Categorial Conversion: Rational Foundations Of Nkrumahism.”

13) Kofi Kissi Dompere. “The Theory Of Philosophical Consciencism: Practice Foundations Of Nkrumahism.”