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Opinions of Thursday, 13 September 2007

Columnist: Asante, Francis Opoku

NPP, NDC and Ghana's Democracy in Perspective

The genesis of democracy could be traced back to the beginning of creation when God in his own wisdom offered “Adam and Eve” the ‘free will’ and the discretionary empowerment for them to make their own decisions within a frame work of guiding principles. Obligation was made equidistant to the ‘free will” which in effect conduced to responsibility. So the concomitance of democracy, freedom and responsibility can never be overemphasized. In a nutshell, democracy in the religious realm never sidelines responsibility as they operate simultaneously, or if you will, they are intertwined.

Democracy in political sense or within the political arena is seen as the system of governance in which power is in the hands of the governed. Over the years, many countries tried to abrogate democracy on all national policies even though, they unconditionally adopted it in their meetings, their domestic arbitrations, domestic affairs etc. This underscores the indisputable fact that countries and individuals can never be at their optimum level of progression or development without democracy. So countries such as Russia and China are gradually transforming into democratic countries.

In order not to give room for digression, I will limit my writing to multi-party democracy and relate it to the two major political parties in Ghana; namely, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC)

Multiparty democracy is a democratic system of governance in which the rights of multiple parties in a specific country are protected by the country’s own constitution. In other words, the existence of the various political parties are recognized by the country’s constitution and all the organs of government (Legislature, Executive and the Judiciary)

1) the citizens elect their own representatives through universal adult suffrage to represent them, and concurrently hold them liable to their actions and decisions__ Responsibility

2) The citizens have equal rights that are entrenched in the constitution and the rights are always protected_ Individual rights

3) The enacted laws made by the people’s representatives apply equally to all citizens irrespective of their individual affiliations_ The principle of equality

4) The citizens have their freedom to criticize their elected representatives and hold them accountable to their decisions_Accountability

5) The citizens make informed decisions based on their own assessments through the power of the ‘ballot box’ vested in them and not through “the barrel of the gun” _Free and fair Elections

6) The decision making of the citizens is mostly influenced by entrenched groups. These groups in the system have their respective ideologies to promote._Political Parties and Political campaign

7) The actions of these entrenched groups or political parties lead to high level of competition. So we see the existence of party politics and keen competition in every multi-party democracy_Party Politics

T The elements of democracy are clustered in their simplified form below:

(1(1) Protection of individual rights, (2) the principle of equality, (3) political campaign, (4) Accountability, and (5) party politics

NPP, NDC, PARTY POLITICS AND ACCOUNTABILITY

Imaginary Dual party democratic system is not limited to Ghana alone. The Great Britain, USA, Germany and other countries are all “club members” so it is fair to put NPP and the NDC in perspective without any disregard to the other political parties in Ghana. Gradually, the other parties will come along. In party politics, political parties ferociously compete for power in government and in so doing resort to vigorous campaign with the sole purpose of soliciting the votes of the electorates.

In Ghana, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) that are considered as the two main political parties, deploy their political machinations (machineries) as in other democratic countries in various forms. Mention could be made of political propaganda, setting off debate on national issues, arousing debates on the web (www.ghanaweb.com, E-debates), the use of political slogans (which carry significant meanings) such as “ewoso woso”, “asee ho” Eshie rado rado,” for the NPP and “akamanso” Edwo bodoo” for the NDC etc.

Adversely, some political parties are sometimes seen exerting undue influence on the electorates in the form of physical gift in exchange for voting favor. Even though, this is vehemently opposed by the general populace and is seen as inimical to our nurturing democracy.

It is remarkably significant for each patriotic Ghanaian to realize that political opponents are not enemies. However, it is equally important that the past performance of the two main political parties in Ghana is critically and fairly assessed as we prepare the country for the polls.

Veracious assessments, debates, arguments and counter arguments that are seen taking place in various forms, are part and parcel of true democracies.

My esteemed readers, do Ghanaians and the tax payers deserve to know each of the two political parties’ track record on human rights, freedom of the press, freedom of the people, the macro-economy and developmental projects? The answer is definitive! This will guide us in selecting the right party and its leader who will take the helm of affairs of our great country. I will spearhead the promulgation aspect of the process!

Has the NPP been infallible through out its 7 years in government? No! So is the NDC /PNDC through out its 20 year rule. However, the difference will emerge as the two parties are assessed based on their past records of 7 years as in the case of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and 20 years as in the case of the National Democratic Congress(NDC/PNDC) on a balance scale.

The stakes are very high as forces from each of the parties gear up for a long political battle. Will it be a nasty campaign? I don’t pray for that but it could be when it comes to NPP versus NDC. It would surprise you to realize that even at this early stage, there are some agents of the various political parties who stay overnight on the web surfing for any article seen as too challenging to their respective parties so that they can squash it either through propaganda, fowl means or cunning strategy. Some of the agents are adversely petrified with fear of loosing the election again and as a result, they have become rampantly ubiquitous on the web to the extent of spending sleepless night in their quest to smear columnist. Sadly, the smear campaign is characterized by spurious comments and allegations that are unfounded. It is all part of political injections that make the scene a lively one.

Sometimes the arguments and the counter arguments at the commentary section of Ghanaweb’s feature articles, get very heated to the point when contributors are almost tempted to break their computers in their attempt to entrench their comments with fisticuffs. It is all part of politics but importantly, we need to relegate all insults to the background as we strive to nurture our democracy.

I always welcome criticisms as progressive tools. In fact, politics is not a place for politicians who are afraid of criticisms. Democracy, without the influx of criticism is a dead one.

Unfortunately, In the case of Ghana and few other countries, politicians learn to absorb more insults than criticisms. It is because our democracy is a fledgling one. Gradually, we will mature in it.

Invariably, the leaders of the two main political parties would be stringently assessed in our quest to elect a leader who has the capabilities and the convincing track records to lead Ghana to a middle income status. This is politically correct.

I remember that in one of my preceding columns, I pointed out few deficiencies I observed about Prof. Atta Mills’ handling of few national policies (notably, the economy) in his capacity as the Vice President of Ghana during his tenure of office. My article did not permeate the professor’s personal life as few NDCs purported it to be. I rather raised legitimate issues regarding how the Prof. performed in a political environment not as a lecturer (in an academic environment) but as a Vice President of Ghana during his term of office.

Critics forget to realize that there is a vast difference between personal attacks and constructive criticisms. Whatever be the case, I can promise my pundits that their orchestrated ploys will never obliterate my sense of conviction

Readers, after schooling in the United States, studying the configuration of the political system and the economic system over here, I am highly convinced that Ghana needs a visionary leader who will consolidate the existing positive macro-economic indicators and move quickly to translate our economic fortune into one of the best economies in the world. If South Korea and Malaysia have been able to pull the plug, we can equally follow suit.

Ghana is endowed with abundance natural resources, mineral resources and the human resources that are highly equipped with cognitive potentialities.

We need to break the cycle of poverty so that the ordinary Ghanaians will feel the economic prosperity of our country in their pockets.

Ghana’s current economic stature makes it more strategically positioned for a ‘trickle down effect’ to take off.

The entrenched political positions should still give room for healthy debates in the good interest of our country as we gear up to the General Elections of our dear country.

Personal insults should be relegated to the background. Most especially on the internet as we need to lead exemplary life for our children to emulate. We need the best for Ghana.

PRINCIPLES OF EQUALITIY IN DEMOCRACY

In democracy, no one should be seen as being above the law. Various political parties fall short of this archetype. I will give credit to the current government for promoting the freedom of the individuals, and the press.Ghanaians can boldly criticize the ruling government without fear of victimization. This is an undeniable fact.

As part of civic the responsibility of the citizenry, every Ghanaian has the obligation to vehemently abhor all tribal tendencies. We need to offer due respect to our comrades regardless of their tribal orientation, political affiliations, religious beliefs or social affiliations. It becomes very pathetic that some of our compatriots who emigrate for greener pastures in some western countries are sometimes subjected to prejudice on the land of the white and when they get back home they are further subjected to tribalism. We cannot build a better country with tribal sentiments. You and I would have to start from somewhere for others to emulate. We will do our politics as I am known for that but we need to accord one another the due respect.

Let us all realize that we are all one people created by one God and that Ghana is for us all. That is how we can build a better Ghana for ourselves and the future generation. The other elements of democracy would be digested in my subsequent articles.

Conclusion

Democracy as fabric as it is to our societal progress, it should always go with responsibilities. The ordinary citizens have their own roles to play so do government officials or the politicians. As we acquaint ourselves with the elements of democracy and their enormous significance, responsibility should be regarded as the threshold.

Francis Opoku Asante
(Former SRC President of the University of Cape Coast)
E-mail: nanapoku_2007yahoo.com


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