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Opinions of Friday, 15 April 2011

Columnist: Ata, Kofi

Rawlingses have lost the Moral Grounds to Genuinely Criticise Mills

By Kofi Ata, Cambridge, UK

In September 2010, I posted an article on Ghanaweb and Peace FM website regarding the presidential ambitions of Nana Konadu Agyemang-Rawlings (hereinafter referred to as Nana). In that piece, I gave a number of reasons why Nana could not win the Presidency and I still stand by those reasons. In fact, with her interview yesterday 14 April 2011 on Adom FM as reported on Ghanaweb “My husband is solidly behind me”, what she said has confirmed some of the reasons I gave in my September article. That is, she does not take any decision or act without consulting her husband. In other words, she is not her own person. Of course, the opposite could be correct and that Rawlings also consults her on all or most issues. Nonetheless, her opponents (the opposition parties) will use it against her in a Presidential camapign. It’s called, sexism, as her husband would not suffer the same accusation if he was the candidate). With her declaration, both Rawlings and Nana have lost the moral grounds and authority to genuinely criticise President Atta Mills. It is now obvious to all and sundry that their insatiable appetite to attack and criticise the President since 2009 was merely a plot to prepare the grounds for Nana’s ambition or the Rawlingses’ agenda. Her decision is not only bad for NDC but even worst for themselves because whoever ultimately is crowned the NDC Presidential candidate for 2012 will have to come to terms with a weak and divided party and divided parties do not win elections.

I still do have respect for the Rawlingses and I do accept that, Nana has every right as an adult Ghanaian of sound mind to exercise her constitutional and democratic rights to contest for the Presidency. However, I am still of the opinion that her decision is wrong for both NDC and Ghana and one cannot fathom the real reason/s behind the decision of the Rawlingses to be at the helm of political affairs in Ghana again after twenty years in power. Is it really about taking back the NDC party? Many, including myself do not believe that excuse because the NDC as a political party does not belong to any individual. In fact, if the NDC is an incorporated body, then by law it is legal entity with its own identity and therefore it does not and cannot be a bona fide property of the Founder/s. I wonder if their decision is not informed by the perceived bad treatment by the Mills Presidency regarding their accommodation and or an attempt by them to prosecute or persecute some NPP leaders for corruption as they claim Mills has failed or even refused to bring to book ex NPP ministers and officials. If it is for any of the two aforementioned reasons or both, then they are simply in to seek revenge. I hope I am wrong but it is no secret that the Rawlingses have never forgiven the NPP for the attempt to jail Nana and Tsatsu Tsikata, though both were given presidential pardon by Kufuor. If their intention is vengeance then that is retrogression for Ghana’s democratic dispensation, even dangerous and a threat future peace and security in Ghana. At the moment Ghana is simmering under a political fault line between NDC and NPP fanatic followers and any attempt by either side to jail their leadership without due process could trigger a political tsunami in the country. The tension within this fault line is heightened at elections and 2012 would be the most fiercely contested elections ever.

On the other hand, if their decision is informed by their appetite for political power, then, that is also bad for them, the NDC and Ghana at large. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The two have ruled Ghana for two decades and what else is there for them to prove to Ghanaians or the world? Indeed, their third or fourth coming into power (AFRC, PNDC, NDC I and the next will be NDC III) will be a disaster for them. In the final analysis, they could lose the respect and dignity (if any) that they have earned for themselves over the years. If the two are so power drank that they want to rule Ghana again, they should think twice. I dare not wish the revolutions in the Arab world on Ghana but those events should serve both as a lesson and a warning to any individual in Africa who wants to hang onto political power more than it is necessary. There is an Akan sayin that water stinks if it stays in the pot for a very long time or the bird that stays too long on the tree without flying, get shot. The end of the once almighty Mubarak and who knows what the end will be for the Libyan dictator? Please note that these are not threats or an attempt to intimidate the Rawlingses but my candid advice if they claim to have their party and Ghana at heart.

Perhaps, this could be a blessing in disguise for NDC and Ghana. That is, if the NDC primaries are conducted in a free and fair atmosphere and delegates are not intimidated or contestants and their supporters do not resort to any arm twisting President Atta Mills is capable securing victory over Nana. His victory and her defeat should put to rest beyond any reasonable doubt that, the Rawlingses are not invincible. Should Nana prevail over President Mills and becomes the NDC Presidential candidate in 2012 and again, if the Presidential elections are free and fair, Nana Akufo Addo will snatch victory under the claws and jaws of the Rawlingses. In both scenarios, the Rawlingses will be the losers and the myth surrounding them will be finally broken and lifted forever. The two scenarios will be good for NDC and Ghana and it will strengthen NDC internal democracy and Ghana’s global democratic credentials. If the Rawlingses believe that they are indispensable, this could be their moment of truth.

The forthcoming campaign for the NDC Flagbearership will further divide the party and even if Nana wins, some party members may either break away or join other leftist parties such as the CPP. The only beneficiaries of Nana’s decision to challenge the incumbent for the Presidency will be the opposition parties, especially, the NPP because they have ammunition to fight whoever is elected the NDC Presidential candidate for 2012. Again, the NDC vote will split and at best, there is the likelihood of the “skirt and blouse” voting among NDC voters in 2012, whatever the outcome of this contest. The contest would be very bruising for the party and as the saying goes, “when two elephants fight, it’s the grass that suffers. Sadly, the grass is on this occasion is mother Ghana because the NDC is the party in power and the sitting President is one of the elephants fighting for his survival. As a result his attention will be divided and the Ghana’ Good Agenda could be derailed. If he loses the fight, he becomes weakened and a lame duck president for the remainder of his presidency. That is a dame duck too early for the good of Ghana.

In any case, what has Nana got to offer Ghana? I must admit that she has already contributed and continues to contribute a lot to Ghana’s national development through her work with the 31st December Women’s Movement as their President. But must she become President of Ghana to continue contributing to the development of Ghana? I am sure many Ghanaians both friends and foe will ask the same question. In any case, let me make one point absolutely clear to all Ghanaians who may not know this. Nana is not the Founder of the 31st December Women’s Movement. I know the genesis of the Movement from day one. It was formed in the early days of the PNDC by a group of women who were closely associated with the then Interim National Coordinating Committee (INCC) for PDCs and WDCs, which later became the National Defence Committee (NDC) for PDCs and WDCs (three of the women were members of the INCC/NDC). I know all of them by their names and can mention them one by one but since I do not have their permission to do so I will not name them in this article. Again, I am aware that two of them are now deceased (May their souls rest in Peace). I and others were there with them and offered advice and support to them. In fact, at one point some of us in the organisation/s felt they were becoming a burden as they never took, no, for an answer. That was how they adopted “By Any Means Necessary” as the Movement’s motto. The only connection with Nana at the time of the formation was that NaaAli Craft designed and printed their inaugural T-shirts (NaaAli Craft was a partnership between Nana and another excellent artist called Ali Y...... who also was a member of INCC/NDC). Sorry I cannot mention his full name. Nana was invited to be the Honourable President of the Movement by the pioneers of the Movement and the inauguration was performed by the Chairman of the PNDC. Unfortunately, differences between some members of the INCC/NDC and the PNDC led to some members of the INCC/NDC including some of the founding members of the Movement going into exile and that gave Nana the opportunity to take over the Movement. Anyone who disputes these facts should challenge me and I will be willing to produce the history of the formation of the Movement with all the personalities involved. So Nana took over and not founder of the 31 December Women’s Movement. Notwithstanding this she deserves credit for how she has nurtured the Movement into a vibrant national grassroots development organisation and used it to improve the lot of some Ghanaian women.

There is no doubt that the Rawlingses have some fanatical support in Ghana and admirers outside Ghana and they still have a role to play in Ghanaian and African affairs. Both do not need Nana to be President of Ghana to play whatever future roles they have in Ghana and Africa. Instead, they need the goodwill and support of the people of Ghana and Africa for their future contributions to peace and development on the continent. I am afraid to say that, this ill-advised ambition will not do them any favours but destroy their hard earned reputation. It is not too late, they can still salvage and repair their tainted image by not going ahead with this misguided ambition. The 2012 elections will be won by the votes of independent voters. Can Nana attract such voters if she is the candidate of NDC against NPP’s Akufo Addo? I am sorry to say, the answer is a big no, if the elections are free and fair. The Rawlingses and their fanatical supporters can prove me wrong. Nana and Jerry, you might not remember me (since I am using a pen name), PLEASE, PLEASE, do not do it. It’s a trap and a risk to your reputation.

Kofi Ata, Cambridge, UK