Is it possible that Ghana could be sleepwalking into a one-party system of governance with the NPP at the helm without a shot being fired?
December 7, 2020, will be remembered for determining the future of Ghana’s democratic system. As I write, various political parties are busy setting their stalls for viewing, However, there is no doubt in the minds of many Ghanaians that there are only two contending political parties (the NPP and the NDC) and two contending ‘Presidential’ candidates.
The winner of this contest is based on many factors. But the outcome will determine the future direction of politics in Ghana. So far, I am convinced that the NPP is ahead of the pack with others trailing behind.
I have lived through many Governments and regimes, comprising ‘democratic’ and ‘non-democratic’ ones. I have lived under both civilian and military dispensations. My observations are therefore based on these, and what it takes to build a multi-party system. This is why I worry that Ghana could be sleep walking into a one-party system of governance without a shot being fired.
In the 1980s through to the 1990s, Africa was gripped in the fervour of anti-one-party rule. The late Professor Babu Abdul Rahman (Tanzania) called it the ‘Second Liberation’. Most African academics spoke harshly about those leaders who took their countries to one party rule. But like most concepts, most of us failed to do a thorough examination of the nature and causes of one-party rule on the continent.
In this debate, the Government of Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was vilified for bringing about the first ‘one party’ state in Ghana and setting a trend in Africa. What is usually absent in the discourse is that the Ghana transition from a multi-party to a single party rule was itself democratic as it was voted for in the Parliament of the First Republic under Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.
This became a noose with which to hang Nkrumah despite the fact that the so-called domo faction would not accept the three defeats at the polls by Nkrumah and the CPP, prior to independence and went on to use terrorism to undermine the Nkrumah pre- and post-independence regimes.
That the “domo” (current NPP) was a great factor in the transition to one-party rule in order to protect the secular state which they, the domo, placed under incessant sectional assault and destabilisation. Rawlings with the same DNA placed the Liman regime under sectional assault and effectively undermined it.
In the 1990s, African exiled politicians and groups like the United Revolutionary Front (URF), Democratic Alliance of Ghana of Ghana [AAS2] (DAG) were part of the anti-military rule, anti-one-party governments campaigning groups in Africa. Their protests were largely successful and led to the collapse of many post-colonial governments including that of the doyen of post-colonial politics, Kenneth Kaunda of the Republic of Zambia.
Ghana was not left out as the Rawlings dictatorial regime came under focus. Commentary about the genesis of the 4th Republic seem to ignore the role of exile groups who campaigned against Rawlings and his vile authoritarian rule. Exile political movements and politicians like the late J. H. Mensah, Akyaaba Addai–Sebo [AAS3] , Explo Nani-Kofi, Yen Nyeya and several others fought for a return to constitutional democratic rule.
The Fourth Republic is not the only ‘Republic’ that gave us some democratic dispensation as being touted by some analysts. The role of the 4th Republican Constitutions in cementing our democracy is largely exaggerated. It is only one of the landmarks [AAS4] of our democratic journey. The landmarks of the CPP winning three elections on the trot plus a Republican referendum, truncated Busia and Limann regimes could be stated.
Its weakness [AAS5] is that it led to the revival of the old coterie of the National Liberation Movement (NLM) dominated by the current NPP, and the complete decimation of the first political party to rule Ghana, i.e., the Convention People’s Party (CPP. But the constitution was also written to protect the interest of one man and one man only – Jerry Rawlings who knew his sordid regime’s brutalities will come under focus once there is a genuine transition.
Pro-democracy campaigns against the “Military” Republic of the PNDC paved the way for the formation of the mufti NDC to “cut the revolution into half” as Rawlings did with his June 4th “revolution”?
It is held in some quarters that the strength of the pro-democracy agitations (which could spark a revolutionary upsurge) prompted the Queen (of England) to make a state visit to Rawlings to advise him to convert to a mufti-constitutional democratic rule. The Fourth Republic paved the way to the formation of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) whose birth was announced by the vilest post-independence dictatorship in Ghana, led by the late Ft. Lt. Rawlings. [AAS6]
It is important to note that on the back of the Rawlings dictatorship, there could be no serious political contest of groups or ideas. There was no need for the NDC to define and situate its origins in the bosom of Ghana’s democratic journey nor to define its roots and political direction clearly, hence the flip flopping and miscommunication of ideas.
The dominant forces in the NDC are the opportunistic characters and various cohorts of the early PNDC period, led by “the Founder” of the party, whose death will lead inexorably to the collapse of his party, the NDC. [AAS7]
Unlike the NDC, the NPP has roots dating back to the days of the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC) and before.
In Ghanaian politics, only the CPP can claim similar solid roots of organisation and history. That explains why in spite of massive efforts by the P/NDC to destroy the party, some say with the help of the NPP the NDC (the Dukadaya) uprooting Nkrumaism and the PP from the polity of Ghana has not been successful. This concerted assault against the CPP became the hallmark of the Rawlings era.
But our blind spots should not allow us to ignore the immense historical role of the CPP and the ‘mate meho’, now NPP.
This is the juncture where the past meets the future.
Does the NDC have a future after the demise of Jerry Rawlings? The answer to this question will depend on the events of December 7th, 2020. So far, all the results of polls I have read seem to indicate a victory for the NPP. I quote this because I share this view. The NDC’s own founder, before his sudden death, predicted that the party he founded would be thrashed in the 2020 polls.
If the NDC should lose the December 7, 2020 elections, and I have no doubt that it will, it opens the floodgates for recriminations and conflict within the party. In the absence of its ‘strong’ Founder, the NDC is headed for splits, and by all indications, will be further weakened.
The NDC’s haste to re-admit groups and individuals who had left the party because of Rawlings; its haste to claim that it has the legitimate right to organise the funeral of the late Rawlings, ignoring the fact that as a former Head of State Rawlings is entitled to a state funeral regardless which party is in power, and the party’s contradictory messages to the electorate are indications of what is to come.
The NPP will undoubtedly study these signs as weaknesses of the main opposition party and work on them to weaken the NDC further. This does not bode well for Ghana’s democracy. Every strong democratic state needs a ruling party and a strong opposition party, and so if the NDC is weak or floundering, it should worry Ghanaians.
This leads us to the future. The probable journey towards one-party rule will not be imposed by fiat. It will be slow and stage managed by the NPP through various manipulations. This will lead to a strong party (NPP) in power, and weak smaller parties like the remnant of the Jerry Rawlings NDC; Kwame Nkrumah’s Convention People’s Party (CPP), The late Dr. Hilla Limann’s Peoples National Convention (PNC).
The CPP and the PNC if they seek the path of unity, will be bolstered by a wide array of pro-Nkrumaist formations. How long this will go on for, is anybody’s guess.
The Busia-Danquah groups are largely united on a neo-liberal agenda to transform Ghana into a property-owning democracy [AAS8] for the unforeseeable future. This type of democracy swill lead Ghana to the “one-party system” where the country is ruled and dominated by a single political party. Smaller political parties will NOT be forbidden as happened under the Kwame Nkrumah era, but will be so weak and ineffective to pose a political challenge of any sort.
Ghana could end up as a “one-party dominant state” in which state resources are controlled by the ruling party. Parliamentary debates will be a mere formality, and smaller parties will exist only as money making and money laundering entities pimping themselves [AAS9] for funds from the Chief of Staff of the ruling Government.
Ghana’s slide towards one party rule may be comforting for the adherents of the NPP and sections of the ruling elite known for its acceptance of any system that props up its legendary perchance for corruption and self-aggrandisement. They are not likely to fight back.
The results of the December 7th 2020 have strong indications for the making of a constitutional dictatorship and a weakening of our democratic system.
The December 7th, 2020 elections has all the hallmarks of making the above possible, but it can be stopped by two possible outcomes: Firstly, that former President Mahama is able to lead the NDC in a post-election era recovery, to overcome its current organisational and ideological weaknesses. Secondly, that the CPP is able to overcome its financial, organisational and ideological handicaps and take a strong stance on issues of national importance.
Thirdly, that a strong alliance of the Nkrumaists parties like the CPP and PNC, working with other grassroots organisations like the People’s Democratic Movement (PDM) and the National Interest Movement (NIM) led by Dr. Abu Sakara emerge to cement and lead Ghana’s democracy in a more progressive direction.
In the period leading to Ghana’s independence in 1957, Ghanaians called for an effective leader to lead our struggle for freedom from colonial domination and exploitation.
Kwame Nkrumah and other nationalists and citizens of courage, forbearance and imbued with patriotism, stood up to the challenge. Once again, Ghana is calling for a similar organised intervention. This is a role for patriotic citizens, men and women of courage imbued with the spirit of our forefathers. If we fail, we have ourselves to blame.
© Zaya Yeebo, November 29th, 2020.
[AAS2] The DAG?
[AAS3] Akyaaba Addai-Sebo
[AAS5] Why do you say that “Its weakness” where as the purpose of the PNDC and the NDC has been to uproot the spectre of Nkrumaism as the rise of the PNP was a strong reminder that you can only but place you knee on the neck of Nkrumaism? Please how was the PNDC constituted in the beginning and who were the NDC founding fathers and Council of Elders (mostly not of domo)?
[AAS7] Please do rephrase as it is not clear
[AAS8] The NPP say they are property-owning democrats who are building a neo-liberal capitalist state, with no apologies.
[AAS9] Pimping themselves?