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Opinions of Friday, 8 July 2011

Columnist: Abubakar, Shuk

NDC: Mills vs. Rawlingses

Does Mrs Rawlings presidential challenge empower or hurt the NDC in its troubled relationship with the Ghanaian public?

Few could have imagined years ago that the man, who the then President Rawlings discovered, financed and polished to cause a political spring that brought down the corrupt and drug dealing NPP regime would today be reduced to political impotence. But after months of political charade and threat from the supporters of both Mills (Get Atta Mills Elected- GAME) and the Rawlingses (Friends of Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings – FONKAR), president Mills should be grateful Rawlings has not overthrow his government through one of his customary Coup d'état - after all Mr Rawlings has been there and done it to Dr Hilla Limann government and he has the badge of dishonour and the scares to show for it. And at least for now, President Mills should be content to serve out his term as a lame duck president.

The Rawlingses Influence and The limits of Mills Presidential Power
As this battle between the populist Rawlingses and the timid President Mills unfolded, important lesson about the workings and dysfunction of the NDC have emerged. Unlike the NPP President before him, President Mills made the mistake of assuming NDC presidents under the control of the Rawlingses have real presidential power. He also incorrectly assumed that, because of his once special relationship with Mr Rawlings, the man who placed his full weight and legitimacy behind Mills to cast aside the full force of NPP corrupt machine and helped wrestle power from the formidable and vibrant Akufo Addo in the 2008 presidential election.

The Limits of Rawlings Support

No matter how much the Rawlingses in the past supported Mills, once Mrs Rawlings made clear her decision to effectively strip Mills from powers, the choice became blurring with political allegiances and backtracking. The NDC has become a divided party. Some high ranked members of the party immediately placed their full support behind president Mills. Even the former aide to Ex-President Jerry John Rawlings and now Ghana’s Ambassador to the Czech Republic, Ambassador Victor Smith, has publicly turned against him. Some political experts in Ghana have written that the battle is over the divergent interpretations of the direction the party has taken under president Mills. This is placing a sophisticated mask over what is really a dirty and raw political struggle. In fact, the battle between President Mill's faction and the loyalists supporting the charismatic but highly controversial former leader’s wife, is a conflict between two visions for the party: the Rawlings’ vision, in which the ideal is nothing more than the preservation of the status quo of empty rhetoric and populist fervours, and Mill's vision, in which the old guards are marginalised in favour of the youth and the inexperience.

The Opposing Views

Supporters of President Mills are accusing the Rawlingses of creating a ‘smokescreen’ by way of presidential challenge in order to exploit their position to get their loyalists appointed to key political posts while dismissing others they deemed to be foes.
Supporters of the Rawlingses maintain that they are defending the NDC party from a "deviant" and “dangerous” movement which seeks to do away with the impossible promises the party made to the country when in opposition. The truth be told, President Mills’ opponents may not be far off the mark. The president has been slow in taken action for the corruptions and mismanagements under the NPP regime. The president has been repeatedly label ‘presidents go slow’ by many political commentators in the country.

Simply put, Mr Rawlings could not permit this president to defy his orders, or make political appointments unilaterally without his consent and approval. While President Mills wanted to build his own network in key positions who would be loyal only to him, not to the Rawlingses.
Meanwhile, there is ample evidence to suggest that the Rawlingses have support within the NDC - some party functionaries openly endorsed Mrs Rawlings candidacy to challenge Mills. In fact, many in key political posts within the NDC such as Michael Teye Nyaunu, MP for Lower Manya have sided openly with the Rawlingses.

Power And Greed Above All Else

As the points listed above show, what matters most to the NDC political elites governing the country now is the survival of this government. However, the Rawlingses have now become a threat to this survival. The Rawlingses are challenging the authority and legitimacy of president Mills rule, and they have cast doubt on the strong attributes of the president. The Rawlingses are now a knife stuck deep in President Mills’ side. Removing the knife will cause a lot of bleeding, but if the pain becomes too much, the knife will be pulled out come Saturday no matter the political cost.

The paradox of the Rawlingses story is that now in the eyes of Mills and his supporters, the Rawlingses appears to pose more of a threat to the survival of the NDC as a political force in Ghanaian politics than the NPP, whose members under the leadership of the confrontational Akufo Addo are gearing up for what will arguably be the most tightly contest election in Ghanaian political history.

Come Saturday, the stage will be set, the opponents will be real, the challenge will be real, and the verdict will be damming for both candidate and the NDC as a political force in Ghana. Their chance of winning the next election no matter the presidential candidates is NILL. While the chances of the NPP has never been so good and Akufo Addo will have the Rawlingses to thank for. Quite ironic I must say.
So, my long suffering Ghanaians, let’s get ready to watch a man destroys his own legacy and the future of his party.
Meanwhile I urge you all to shed no tears and join me in singing
“don’t cry for me NDC”

Shuk Abubakar
(Student of Educational Planning)
Institute of Education
Sir George Monoux College