Ras envies Haruna Iddrisu, Omane Boamah and Samuel Ablakwa. This is precisely the reason why Africa is such a laggard in development. Of course, Africa faces many challenges but the biggest of them all is ‘stomach politics’, which is that politicians like Ras are in politics because of their own selfish interest: self-esteem and material wealth.
This has made politics a zero-sum came, a do-or-die affair, a “bloody” war that must be won at all cost.
Once Ras has not been given a ministerial appointment or has not been elected to an executive position in the NDC, he has to do whatever is possible under the sun to destroy his opponents. All this populist talk about the “people”, the “weak”, the “grassroots” and so on is very familiar babble, isn’t it? We know of few politicians in Ghana who do not use the name of the people to promote their own selfish political interest.
The Rawlingses are the worst offenders. After riding on the back of the people to power, he made a U-turn from a Marxist, interested in the wellbeing of the lower classes, to a liberal, right-wing politician who believes in the magic of the free market.
Who privatised all the state enterprises of Nkrumah? Who implemented cash-and-carry? Who implemented fee-paying for university and secondary education? Who deployed commandos to brutalise students and workers demonstrating against the austerity economic policies implemented under the economic recovery programmes (ERP) in the 1980s/90s? Yet today he can present himself as the holier than thou crusader of social justice and imperialism. Vintage Rawlings, isn’t he? Yet people with short memory, or who simply cannot resist his charisma, believe that he is the most progressive leader that Ghana has ever had.
Nkrumah is totally eclipsed by him; but comparing him with Nkrumah is like comparing bananas with apples, in terms of their commitment to social justice and progressive values. In the face of all challenges, including machinations to overthrow him, Nkrumah like Castro of Cuba, stuck steadfastly to his progressive and anti-imperialist principles. Rawlings chose the easiest way out to save his political career: he simply made a U-turn on progressive values.
Logically, it is hard for one to understand what the Rawlingses and their supporters are complaining about. However, if stomach politics and ego is factored into the equation, the puzzle is easily unravelled. The point is the people that Rawlings trusted and worked with during his regime are the same people that Mills is working with – with the exception of some new faces, which is not unexpected anyway.
The only difference is that these Rawlingses’ men/women have become Atta-Mills’s men/women in their loyalty. Meanwhile, the Rawlingses, with time, have got a new set of men/women like Ras that they want to impose on Mills. Since it is impossible to give appointments to all the Rawlingses’ men/women, old and new, Mills from the day-one was headed inescapably to a clash with the Rawlingses and their disgruntled men/women like Ras. Just imagine the facile arguments Ras has used to justify his call for Mills to be changed as the 2012 presidential candidate.
If Rawlings has been in charge of the affairs of Ghana for 20 years and left the same problems behind, how can someone in his/her normal senses expect Mills to solve them in two years? As if he has a magic wand that he would wave and all the lower classes would get their needs satisfied and be happy.
I will criticise Mill’s government, but not for the same reasons that the likes of Ras base their critiques. The problem I have with the Mills’s government is that he is implementing the same neo-liberal policies that Rawlings and Kufuor implemented, that he is using the same men and women that were in the Rawlings team, and like Kufuor and Rawlings, the IMF and World Bank are his friends.
However, unlike Rawlings and Kufuor, Mills is genuinely concerned about the destitute living conditions of those “down” there, at the bottom of the barrel. He is not pretending as Rawlings and Kufuor before him. Nor is he stealing from the kitty of the state.
He is not vindictive, and does not witch-hunt his political opponents. He respects the constitution and the rule of law. He is governing as the “father of the whole nation”. The Rawlingses and their hangers-on want him to govern as the father of NDC. Wrong! The 49% and over who did not vote for the NDC have the same rights as NDC members.
They are all Ghanaians. Besides, it is the non-aligned or independent voters that win elections; not the dyed in the wool supporters. Mills is criticised by the Rawlingses and their supporters because of his statesmanlike approach to governance, a breed that is rare in Africa anyway.
I can bet my last pesewa that Ras and people who think like him are typical cases of zero-sum politics in Ghana. Their motto is that because they have not had their own way, the NDC must be destroyed; it must all burn to ashes. Ras is telling his opponents (Haruna Iddrisu, Omane Boamah and Samuel Ablakwa) something like this: “Walai talai! I will make sure NDC loses in the 2012 elections, so that we all lose”. So aggrieved is Ras that he doesn’t even respect the office of the president, considering his rudeness to Mills in his occasional rants.
Very soon only conceited and stomach-politicians like Ras would be attracted to politics. Which respected professor of law like Mills would go into politics for the likes of Ras to get the chance to insult him or her? The answer must be: “no one”.
On the brighter side, what is happening in the NDC is good: it is the birth pangs the party is enduring as it makes the crucial transition from the Rawlingses club to a centre-left party, something that is important in the two-party system that has emerged in Ghana – considering that the other progressive parties (CPP and PNC) have been “eaten” up by the NDC. In July, a real centre-left party would be born, as the Rawlingses would be given a shellacking in the contest.
This would then mark the end of their iron grip on the party as their personal property. Ras, you are on the wrong side of history. Better move to the correct side. As a young man, you should purge yourself of this vicious, crude do-or-die and stomach-politics that you are presently engaged in.
When I see young politicians like you following the footsteps of your forebears, I lose hope for Ghana and Africa in general. Politics is a competition for the honour and opportunity to promote the wellbeing of the down-trodden, not to use them for one’s parochial interests.
Unfortunately, this is what most politicians in Ghana do. This must change; and for me, Mills has started this change.
Source: Jasper Ayelazuno/[email protected]
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