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Opinions of Thursday, 19 June 2008

Columnist: Kennedy, Arthur Kobina

NDC Confronts Its Past

Last week, the " old" and " new" versions of the NDC were on full display. In Accra, the " new" NDC released a statement, signed by Ms Hannah Tetteh, the party's Communications Director, to celebrate the party's 16th anniversary. Amongs other things, the ' new" NDC pledged its commitment to democracy while touting its democratic credentials. The statement said the NDC is " firmly committed to ensuring that it plays its part in safeguarding the democratic process". Furthermore, the statement pledged that the party " will use legal means to ensure a credible process". Elsewhere, the statement promises to bring to an end the shame of massive cocaine trafficking that has destroyed the image of the country. Of course, the latter part of the NDC rule was characterised by US State Department reports designating Ghana as a transit point for drugs.These occurred in 1997, 1999 AND 2000. Thus the claims there on behalf of the NDC are politically opportunistic and false. That notwithstanding, the tone of the anniversary statement is consistent with what one would expect from a democratic political party. It gives hope that the party that supported the exuberant celebrations of June 4th anniversaries with state resources is perhaps ready to turn a new leaf.

Unfortunately, while the " new" NDC was on display through Ms Tetteh's statement, the " old" NDC was on display too. Indeed that display was stronger. In a statement read on his behalf by a member of the NDC Ashanti Regional Executive, Mr Stephen Opuni to celebrate the 29th anniversary of June 4th, former President Rawlings said a lot of undemocratic things. Amongst other things, the father and founder of the NDC said "no amount of lip-service to democratic good governance as prescribed by our self-appointed western mentors and executed by gentlemen in three-piece suits can satisfy the dwindling hopes of the disadvantaged and suffering people. The only way to engage their trust and confidence is to be honest , open and transparent". Elsewhere in the same statement, the man who the NDC lauds for restoring democracy to Ghana appears to be eagerly anticipating the day when the masses will erupt in protest against the democratic order. Shorn of all the idealistic and communitarian language, June foourth was an ugly part of our history. It was undemocratic. It was about the rule of men, not of law. It was about the extra-judicial killing of citizens who never had a chance to confront their accusers. Contrary to the impressions being created, it was not only the so-called elite who suffered. Ordinary market women were stripped naked and whipped for selling their wares at prices that were considered too high according to some arbitrary standards that varied from soldier to soldier. Two years after June 4th, the fundamentally anti-democratic nature of June 4th was revealed by the 31st December uprising. Unfortunately for our nation, after all these years, there was no tone of regret in Mr Rawling's statement. There was defiance and nostalgia. Also, there was hypocrisy. Self-appointed western mentors and men in three-piece suits? That sounds like the IMF/WORLD BANK and US President Bill Clinton that sang the praises of the " suit-clad" Rawlings as he travelled from one Western capital to the next. The former President must cut that anti-establishment tone that served him so well for so long. Now, he has no credibility to excite the masses with those words anymore. That credibility has been destroyed by many years of acting contrary to the spirit of those words. What makes the whole celebration of June fourth disturbing is the the way the NDC has been willing accomplices in this unfortunate saga. The statement I have referred to was not delivered ex-tempore by Mr Rawlings. It was delivered by a party official and therefore had the presumed support of the party. Thus despite the time, effort and resources used in the National Reconciliation Commission's work, Mr Rawlings and his ilk insist on not letting the nation move on. Repeatedly, they re-open our wounds and exacerbate our pain with these misguided celebrations. As a nation, we keep yearning for the day when we can together comfort the widow of he who may have perished, care for the survivors who need help and then move on but they will not let go. They insist that what caused so much needless pain to so many was some glorious episode in our history.

The question is " Which NDC is the real NDC?" Is it the supposed new one Ms Tetteh spoke for or the one Jerry Rawlings spoke for through Mr Opuni? I do not presume to speak for the NDC but the evidence is overwhelmingly in favour of the old NDC. First, the new NDC has not repudiated even one of the policies of June 4TH, or the PNDC, let alone the NDC. Second, the new NDC is led by the same leaders of the old NDC. There is the former Vice-President, Pro. Mills, now the Presidential candidate, whose nomination dates back to the " Swedru declaration" and who presided over the economic policies of the old NDC that bankrupted our country. Then there is Honourable John Mahama, a Minister under the NDC who was a key member of the NDC administration and the financial management team, who is now the Vice-Presidential nominee of the NDC. Then there are NDC executive members who go back to the PNDC and the old NDC days. It would appear that the supposed "new" NDC is nothing more than a false election-year conversion slapped together to mislead the Ghanaian people into giving the NDC another crack at power. This has become neccesary because the people of Ghana have figured out the true nature of the NDC and plan to reject them once again.

For now, it appears that the " new" NDC is at best a distant dream in the minds of an isolated minority in the NDC or a carefully organised effort to deceive the people of Ghana. Ghanaians should only take the " new" NDC seriously when it starts making clear breaks with June 4TH, 31ST December and their discredited policies as well as the men/women and attitudes, including contempt for the rule of law and political tolerance that have defined the ' old" NDC . Until these things occur, the best guarantee of democracy in our country is the NPP. It is committed to the values of democracy. It is committed to "newness", hence the " NEW" in its name. Consistent with these , the NPP is always engaged in bringing to the fore, new ideas, new people and new attitudes that will make our country better. The NPP is the party of tomorrow and the future. Finally, it has delivered real results to the people of Ghana. Action should and does speak louder than words and based on the actions so far, the good people of Ghana can rest assured that there is no difference between the old and new NDC.

On December 7th, let us vote for the NPP which will take us into the future, not the NDC that yearns for a return to the lawless days of June4th and the PNDC.

May we all remember June 4th and 31st December as harbingers of the men and women of darkness who are eager to take us back to an era when our nation's fate was determined by " those who had the argument of force on their side rather than those who had the force of arguments"

May our democracy grow from strength to strength.



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