28.05.2003 Feature Article

The New NDC — The sleeping giant has stirred

By Press
The New NDC — The sleeping giant has stirred
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Raymond Tuvi FOR dAILY gRAPHIC "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." — Edmund Burke (1729-1797).

In its new operational philosophy, “A Social Democratic Agenda for Ghana", the National Democratic Congress (NDC) makes it very clear that it is a social democratic party committed to equality and the egalitarian treatment of all persons, with respect to their political, economic, social, cultural and religious relations in a multi- party environment.

While going on with its own internal restructuring, the NDC sounds a note of awareness to all the good people of Ghana to brace ourselves for our duty, while eschewing indiscipline and self-centredness.

In closing the chapter on the old scheme of things, the NDC, in the final chapter of its 2000 manifesto, sums up the past and points the way forward:

".... Our transition from a revolutionary tradition to a constitutional era, though problematic at times, is surely on course. The NDC has successfully ushered our country into a new democratic era with the firm hope that our conduct of national politics will reflect a new culture, both in rhetoric and practice.

The fact that we... created a new and more meaningful grassroots democracy is a matter not only for self-congratulation but also, more important, a clear indication of our commitment to true democracy as the long-term destination of our dear country. And that commitment on our part remains firm...For the NDC; the welfare of the people shall always remain our supreme concern. From this fundamental commitment, we shall never flinch.”

Such is the declaration of intent, indeed, the mission statement of the NDC, which needs have a hold on all its officials, functionaries and teeming supporters.

This should be so, since the NDC is a convergence of groups and individuals from many different backgrounds yet who share a common determination to build a stable, just and democratic society and who believe that the principles of development through the concerted participation of all Ghanaians remain the foundation of our democratic programme.

The main political focus of the NDC remains a commitment to the protection of the under-privileged and the empowerment of the socially disadvantaged at all times. These notions the NDC do not intend to sacrifice on the altar of political convenience or undermine by political opportunism.

The apparent excitement in and about the party lately is not at all inimical to it. If there be anything significant, it is only an indication of the coming of age of the NDC as an authentic, solid political tradition within which the rank and file can agree to disagree: assumptions, presumptions and intrigues are tools of the past. Every notion and move is now exposed to fresh air, frankly assessed and, consequently, self-seekers and opportunists left to make their case.

The unity and stability of the party is fostered. The NDC is thus fast assuming the nature of a microcosm of true democracy, something that has lately earned Ghana high commendation internationally.

The NDC is, indeed, committed to social democracy because it has its origins in grassroots participation and the involvement of everyone in decision-making at the local and national levels. It has a vision of a society in which the welfare of one is the concern of all.

It is a vision that seeks to make political representation an effective and universal tool to open the door of economic opportunities to everyone and guarantee social justice for all.

The NDC believes in the free market economic system nonetheless, because it is assured that the market is critical for the effective and efficient performance of industry, agriculture and, indeed, the entire economy.

The NDC, however, is not in favour of the market being allowed to create conditions for the exploitation of the majority of the people by a privileged few indigenous or foreign economic operators.

Arising out of the above concerns, therefore, the economic programme of the NDC has been based on the liberalisation of the economy, involving greater private sector participation and deregulation.

Yet, in keeping with its fundamental ideals, the NDC aims at empowering the lowest paid member of the community to have access to social amenities, to private comfort and the economic opportunities that are available to the wealthiest members of society, though not necessarily in the same magnitude or to the same extent since genuine talents differ.

To achieve this, the NDC is committed to ensuring that the poor are made less vulnerable by improving their access to the means of production and in particular enhancing the role of women as agents of development and modernisation.

The NDC thus resolves to pay greater attention to the anti-poverty and poverty reduction programmes that were proposed and commenced under the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS) produced by it while in government.

To do this effectively and to attain the needed accelerated economic growth, identified structural bottlenecks in the economy should be removed. In this regard, the NDC remains committed to its vision of transforming Ghana into a middle-income economy by the year 2020.

To achieve this, the party is prepared to work to restore the required macro-economic environment for economic growth and poverty reduction.

The NDC’s brand of social democracy thus seeks to marry the efficiency of the market and private initiative with the compassion of state intervention to protect the disadvantaged and the marginalized, and to ensure optimum production and equitable distribution of the national cake. Again, the 2000 Manifesto of the party summarises its political agenda:

"For the NDC, Ghana can never be said to be free unless we have the infrastructure, the human resource and the technology that it takes to enjoy any freedoms or rights in the 21st century.

We need roads to enjoy the right to freedom of movement and the right to economic activity. We need energy to exercise the right to full employment. We need education and familiarity with information technology to have access to information and knowledge. We need to be healthy to enjoy the right to the pursuit of happiness. In short, we need to be developed in order to be free."

In the case of the larger world, the NDC remains committed to international co-operation and intensifying the campaign for a fair world order in this era of globalisation.

The prevailing global economic system is slowly establishing the marginalisation and in some cases the impoverishment of developing countries through inimical trade and exploitative practices - indisputable factors in global instability. The NDC on this score can only support all legitimate efforts to correct the inequities in the current global system.

The party has thus expressed and continues to express solidarity with the coalition of groups that have challenged the advanced economies to resolve the issues of debt, inaccessible markets and a non-concessionary financial market, which face developing countries.

Joining hands with other ECOWAS countries to establish a single monetary zone and the necessary economic discipline that goes with it represents a critical step towards breaking the stranglehold of the world economic regime.

This move is very relevant now since Ghana's geo-political situation and the economic realities of the times also make it imperative that we push the cause of West African sub-regional integration as hard as possible and in line with the progressive operationalisation of the African Union.

The NDC is similarly committed to sustaining its support for the United Nations, the Commonwealth and other world fora devoted to peace and the true interest of all the people of the world.

This is the express image of the new NDC, the NDC vouching a social democratic agenda for our dear land, founded on a policy of social justice, social equity and social welfare.

Here, education is accessed as a right and not a privilege; health care is provided as a matter of government obligation yet with a commitment to the realisation of a National Health Insurance Scheme; a housing policy objective where every Ghanaian has a home (though not necessarily own a house) as a concrete expression of the right to shelter; potable water being available, accessible and affordable if it be sold at all, and at worst produced, distributed and consumed at cost only; employment and public transportation objectives which are respectively:

(i) Zero or minimum unemployment at all times through youth skills training and a re-examination of incomes policy, workers' wages, etc, and (ii) A revisiting of the system of intra-city and intra-urban public transport system of the immediate post-independence era, leaving inter-city and long distance transportation largely to the private sector.

The general goals of the Ghanaian society are captured in Chapter Six of the 1992 Constitution under the Directive Principles of State Policy. The philosophy of the new NDC combines a commitment to those goals with the party's world view and its own goals, and the means of attaining both national and party goals, based on its shared body of common ideas, common beliefs and common experiences.

In the undesirable absence of discipline, prudence and diligence within the rank and file of the party, such shared ideals and principles as the NDC cherishes would avail little, and the party and the nation would end up the losers.

This bleak prospect is, however, no longer tenable as far as the new NDC is concerned. Ghana could only move forward now, and the National Democratic Congress has just received the requisite shot in the arm to ensure just this. Could you be left behind?

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