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Opinions of Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Columnist: Sidibe, Abdul

Rawlings: A Huge Liability To The NDC Part 1

Former President Rawlings had become the snake that swallows his own tail. He had turned himself in to a life grenade in the hands of his political distracters to be used in blowing the very house he helped build, and no one in the NDC leadership seems to care about it. Rawlings has become the bacteria that never be cured. There are many in the NDC that are feeling the pain of these bacteria but will never speak. The earlier the leadership of the NDC stop these Rawlings appeasements, and start telling the former president the true implications of his misguided utterances and illogical ambitions, the better it would be for the future of the party, if not the country.

Even before the opposition NPP regains their feet from a devastating defeat in 2008, Rawlings had already started arming them against the very party and candidate he stood in Swedru and told the entire country to be most capable of running the country. This writer is not a usual Rawlings critic, but his action worry those of us who share the vision of the NDC, see the good work the Mills administration is doing, only to here Rawlings Rebuke it in public. The party will seize to exist if it allows just one person’s ambitions and actions to go unchallenged, even though it is deeply hurting and dividing it at the grass root level.

Within months of taking office, the Mills administration received nothing productive from Mr. Rawlings than constant public rebuke and consternation. First, he was not happy that some DCEs appointed by the outgoing Kufour administration were told by the incoming government to hold on to their offices pending the appointment of their replacements. Rawlings may find this administrative decision discomforting and unusual, but that is normal practice in every democratic dispensation. Local governments should have leaders during transition periods. The fact that neither he nor Kufour did that in their reigns does not make the practice wrong. That is why in every reasonable democracy, it is allowed for incoming and outgoing administrations to collaborate for a smooth transition.

Second, he was not happy about the Mills’ appointments and went public with his disapproval of some of the ministerial norminees. Here too, Rawlings expected that every appointment by the government would be done in consultation, if not with his approval. But the last time we checked, Mills’, and not Rawlings’ name was on the ballot for President. Rawlings is the founder of the NDC, but once a president is elected he seizes to be the president for just the party. He is the President of Ghana. The president’s and administration’s interest had to be preserved even if it makes Rawlings unhappy.

Third, he wanted Prof. Mills to dismiss civil and public servants appointed by the previous administration. “It was wrong to remove Kufour and allow his men to run the show,” Rawlings said angrily at the June 4th rally. When Mr. Kufour dismissed Rawlings appointees, those of us in the NDC, including Mr. Rawling, by way, were not happy. We thought that then, as we do now, that such political dismissals will go a long way to destabilize the civil service. Competent civil servant should stay in office regardless which government assumes national leadership. All that should be demand of them is loyalty to the state and impartial implementation of government policies.

But Rawlings sees things different. He seems to believe in the Law of Moses, “An eye for an eye.” Civilized countries don’t govern base on that maxim. If all we do as a nation is to repeat every mistake a previous government made, then our progress and our very existence as a functioning society is threatened because all there will be is vicious circle of mistakes. What the Mills administration did when it assumed office is something that should encouraged and not rebuked. Furthermore, Rawlings wants Mills to act as he acted during the PNDC days. Arrest suspects and detain them. “The President Mills has lost the moral high ground in the fight against corruption,” Rawlings told his June 4th enthusiast. This rational was that President is not fast enough in parading suspected Kufour officials before court. The question to former president is what moral grounds would the president have if he rounds up suspects before court without adequate investigations?

Besides, that is not how democracy works. Democratic societies presume suspects innocent until they are proven guilty, and sometimes the process of proving a suspect’s guilt takes times. It is better to spend all the time it takes to gather evidence for a fair trial than imprison an innocent person. Here again, Rawlings is wrong.

Finally, there were sound reasons why initially Mills was doing everything against Rawlings wishes. He has the injuries to show for it. President Mills was rightly worried not to be defined as a stooge of Mr. Rawlings. It was the image that lost him the 2000 and 2004 elections. Yes, Rawlings has some support in the country. But all that support is from 42 to 44 percent of the Ghanaian voting public that votes NDC anyways. The party saw it potential in the 2000 and 2004 elections. 44 percent is not the magic percentage needed to win elections in Ghana. One would expect the former President, with his wealth of experience in government and politics, to know better and even assist the new administration achieve it political objectives. But no, Rawlings is still fixated with the PNDC days when everything, including administrative decisions, are done through the stroke of his pen. He had failed to recognize that once he accepts the principle of democratic politics, everything does not revolve around him any longer. Sometimes you have to accept others wish even as they run counter yours.

We do not want to believe this, but perhaps Kufour and Kwaku Baaku might be right. Rawlings sees himself as a divine leader of Ghana. Otherwise he would accept his retirement and go peacefully. But it is important for someone to notify him that even his most ardent supporters and defenders will walk away from him if he tries to destabilize the country. The international community and Ghanaians would not accept a Rawlings third coming.

Abdul Sidibe