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Opinions of Sunday, 18 July 2010

Columnist: Sidibe, Abdul

Rawlings Can’t Win Ndc An Election

The relation between the President and the Rawlings family is simply that of animosity. It is not an open honest and open critic. Information from party insiders indicates that some in the NDC and in government are failing recon with this fact. Others hold important positions in government, and some sit in cabinet. Yet, secretly, they ally themselves with the Rawlingses to undermine the President and his administration. If these individuals truly believe in the government they are serving, then it is important to publicly point out to Mr. Rawlings that he is wrong on all the things he had said about the government thus far. Or resign their positions in government. They are not loyal allies to this President and have no business working for him. They owe their appointments in government to Professor Mills, and not Mr. Rawlings.

Anyone in the NDC who thinks Mr. Rawlings and the Rawlings family are just offering their honest critic of this president is day dreaming, if not living on another planet. The animosity of the Rawlingses towards the President couldn’t have been made clearer. Rawlings had called ministers in this government corrupt without providing any evidence. He had described the President as slow without a sense of decorum. He told his June 4th movement that the President had “lost the moral high ground to fight corruption” without any evidence. While saying that, he lined up on the front row people wearing his wife’s presidential campaign T-shirts. He attempted to black slide the President Mills by using the President’s health issues as a political football. He did less than that to Mr. Kufour before he was banned from any Military installation, his wife charged with corruption, and his status reduced to that of a private citizen.

These ministers and senior party leaders want everyone, including the President, to worship Mr. Rawlings as if he is an Emperor. They demand that every government decision be made in consultation with him. Rawlings supporters in the NDC want to annex the President’s veto powers for Mr. Rawlings. Their argument was that Mr. Rawlings is the founder of the party. They argue that he is charismatic and eloquent. To them, Rawlings alone can solve the ills of Ghanaian society.

These people have failed to come to terms with the fact that we are in democratic dispensation and Presidents are elected by the people. Also, the Ghanaian constitution mandates one president at a time. Professor Mills, and not Rawlings is the current elected president and all the powers and privileges of the presidency is vested on him.

The argument that because Mr. Rawlings is the founder of the NDC, and therefore the party should defer every decision to him does not hold water and flies in the face of every logical reasoning. In the first place founding an organization does bequeath ownership. The NDC is a political corporation with shares in the political capital market. Thousands of people have purchased these shares and have invested their resources and time in the party. Particularly, those who joined and assisted the party after the 2000 elections. They too have a stake in the NDC and deserve the party’s dividends. Rawlings and his supporters should stop pretending as if the NDC did not lose the 2000 election and the party has never been in opposition. Especially, when most of those crying foul and following the Rawingeses, are themselves new to the party. The Sekous and the Kofi Adams of the world are not known NDC activist prior to the 2000 elections.
The Rawlings cultists also point to his charisma as a reason for their blind support. Charisma is not in itself a yardstick for measuring leadership. Leaders are measured by what they did in government and not how eloquent they spoke. These Rawlings cultists are not guided by history. For if charisma is a measurement of leadership accomplishments, people like Adolf Hitler would have a leadership pass. Hitler’s charisma did not prevent him from committing the worse genocide in history. Neither did it stop him from causing the most catastrophic and cost wars in human history.

It will make the case of the Rawlings supporters better if they point to his accomplishment in the light of our democratic evolution since 1992. Rawlings helped to usher in the 1992 constitution. He removed his military uniform, contested and won two democratic elections. After serving his tenure as the first president of the 1992 constitution, he smoothly handed over governance to a democratically elected opposition leader. Very few leaders in our part of the world attained such heights. That is what supporters of Rawlings should be pitching. But the logical conclusion of such a pitch is the total retirement from politics of Mr. Rawlings. Such a retirement will allow the romantic Rawlings story to remain in the psyche of Ghanaians for a long time to come. Failure to retire and continually meddling in petty internal party politics will go a long way to damage his reputation, and make him the villain, and not hero of recent Ghanaian history that he wants to be perceived.

Of cause, that is not to say that Mrs. Rawlings cannot have a presidential ambition of her own. She is, after all, an individual and can aspire to any leadership position of her choice. But the animosity and the attempts to undermine a sitting NDC President under the armpit of her husband will not help their already battered reputation and legacy. It is a gamble that will not only damage the NDC as viable political entity, but have the potential of the destroying the Rawlingses beyond repair.

There are other ways Nana Kunadu could have followed to attain her Presidential ambition without any hidden agenda, animosity or antagonism. First, she and her husband could assist the Mills administration achieve its set goals by shutting their mouths, and stopping the unnecessary and illogical orgy of loud noise from their followers. She could even lobby the government and have an appointment to serve it in a responsible position. Doing so will not only bring Mrs. Rawlings close to the day to day running of the country, but will also portray her as a team player. Given the cloud of the Rawlingses in the party, she could easily sail through an NDC congress for the 2016 election. As it stands now, many will oppose her candidacy if she does contest, and her chances of winning a general election is next to non against an NPP candidate even if she succeeds in ousting Professor Mills.

However, the Rawlingses are not patient and calculative people. At best they could be described as egoistic, if not power maniacs. They will go at all length to achieve whatever they want and when they want it. They don’t mind crushing anyone who stands on their way. A cursory look at their former friends and close associates and how they were handled by the Rawlingses would just buttress this point. Currently, President Mills and some NDC officials are those on their way and they don’t mind undermining the President even if that demands the destruction of the NDC as we it. Over and over again, the Rawlingses have failed to be guided by history and their obvious limitations in the Ghanaian political nomenclature.

As noted somewhere, Mr. Rawlings by himself cannot win the NDC an election. This hypothesis has been tested and proven in the 2000 and 2004 elections. When the party stood on his shoulders in the 2000 election, the nation rejected it. That year, to quote Professor Mike Oquaye, all votes the NPP obtained were “protest votes.” Again, in 2004, when the election was made a referendum on him, the party lost by wider margin. Anytime the party was presented around the personality of Mr. Rawlings, it produces cracks in its rank and file and losses in elections. In 2000, the Reform Movement emerged out of the disagreement with the Swedru declaration. Ghana produced an NPP president. In 2004, the NDC went in to that election divided between the Obed Asamoah camp and Rawlings camp, again the party lost.

In 2008, the NDC won that election not because of Mr. Rawlings, but because the then candidate Mills learned from the mistakes of the past and took his candidacy on his own shoulders. This informed his house to house campaigns, and the establishment of a separate campaign office outside the party headquarters in Kokomele. This enabled him to have total control of his campaign and reverse the 2004 losses in the Central, Western, Greater Accra, and Brong Ahafo regions. The reasons for this move, according to his campaign insiders was because the Professor had finally realized that the Rawlings cloud is limited to only the three Northern Regions and Volta Region. Therefore, attempts to appease the Rawlingses, even as if they make frantic efforts to undermine Profess Mills’ authority, by certain people in the NDC is misguided and may back fire on the party.

Unlike in previous cases when the Rawlingses successfully pushed Obed Asamoah and others from the party; this time they are tempting with a government in power. The president could decide to retaliate by sacking all their allies from government, expose the Rawlings by promptly responding to their criticism, and pave the way for their political enemies to get at them. Come to think of it, the Rawlingses are the most vulnerable, and yet, the lousiest politicians in our history. Take out the indemnity clause from the constitution, and they are exposed forever.

Or the President could decide the let the chips fall for everyone to scrabble for his or her piece. Nowhere in the constitution does it say that a sitting President cannot defect from a political party and form new alliances or form a party of his own. After all, Mr. Rawlings founded the NDC out of the shadows of the PNDC. A classic example of a ruling government forming a party was in Israel when the then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon formed the Kadima out of the Likud in 2006. Political parties rise and fall, but the nation remains. No one can argue that Israel is not a democracy. For all its faults, Israelis have the one most vibrant political party system in the world. Professor Mills could let the Rawlingses take the NDC and do whatever they want with it.

But Professor is not the kind of politician who will put his interest above that of the party. We all have our disagreement with his style of leadership. However, one looks at the President’s leadership style he has been patient under extreme provocation under extreme provocation from the Rawlingses. If the situation was reversed, and the Rawlingses were in Mills’ side of evens, my last paragraph best illustrates their move.

Abdul Sidibe