The 2004 general election which is widely expected to endorse President Kufuor and its ruling NPP for another four year mandate has been a worry for most Ghanaians because they think that another term for President Kufuor will mean that the main opposition party, the NDC will have to wait for another four years to put its house in order to be able to contest the 2008 general elections. But one unanswered question is “will NDC be able to stand again as a strong political party after this eminent but unstoppable electoral defeat come 7th December?” Political analysts and commentators are of the view that NDC will not be a force to reckon with politically. I share the same opinion because the basic foundation upon which the party was founded was fragile. I shall at this point explain why NDC as a political party will not be able to flex its muscles and go into political coma.
In the first place, people describe Mr. Rawlings as a charismatic leader. This is very true because wherever he goes people follow him not because they would like to listen to his intellectual and thought-provoking speeches but people just want to get a glimpse of him for the atrocities he unleashed on innocent Ghanaians during his rein as the Head of State of this nation. It has been argued that any political party, which thrives and builds its very foundation on charismatic leaders suffer in the end. A case in point is the former CPP party that was formed by Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the first President of Ghana. The charismatic traits of Kwame Nkrumah cannot be disputed in any way and during his time CPP was very popular. But what has been the legacy for the present CPP party? There is virtually no party like the former CPP because it has lost its popularity and the party has no good structures on the ground.
Charismatic leaders, as soon as the leave the political scene, go with their charisma and this leads to a lot of problems for the parties that profess ideological lineage to them when it wants to re-organise itself. CPP has not been able to mobilise the masses into its fold and the Nkrumah factor needs to be looked into. Bill Clinton, a very charismatic world leader and who won the American presidency twice made the Democratic Party suffer the same fate because he left the presidency with his charming traits and as a result its party on two consecutive times lost elections in America. This is the same position NDC finds itself at the moment. Who could have even imagined that NDC could loose political power just like that? But as soon as their charismatic leader left the scene, there is no more attraction to the party again. Even though Mr. Rawlings is seriously campaigning for Professor Mills, his charisma cannot work again because he is now perceived from a different angle and from different position.
Institutional form of leadership is more lasting and good for any political party. Under this, the foundation of any party is not built on one person but institutional structures that inform succeeding generations of the party how their leaders will be chosen and the party organised. In this way it is the ideals of the party that people profess faith in and not in one single leader, and it is the collective dream of the party that shapes and direct party affairs and organisation. If you consider the party organisation of the ruling NPP, it is using institutional leadership framework with well-defined and formidable structures on the ground and no one person's popularity or otherwise move the party agenda. This explains why the party was able to survive for 30 years in opposition until it won political power in 2000 general election. About 80% voted for President Kufuor in 2000 not because of his personality but because of the party he leads.
Another reason why NDC will not be able to function properly after this election is that since 1992 their popularity has been on the decrease. In 1992 general election, it had 188 parliamentary seats out of 200. In 1996, the number of its parliamentarians was reduced from 188 to 131 which represented 30.3%. In 2000 elections their majority status in parliament was changed to minority status as the NPP took the majority in parliament. The 131 MPs reduced to 94 and subsequently to 91 as at today which represent a percentage decrease of about 30.5%. It can be seen that since 1992 to date, NDC as a party has lost 51.2% of its parliamentary seats. If we are to go by what political analysts and commentators argue, together with my own observation, then it is expected that the party is going to suffer another loss of parliamentary seats from its current number of 91 to 65 representing 28.5%.
This trend is ample evidence that NDC is loosing grounds and its popularity is fast fading amongst the Ghanaian populace. For a political party to loose parliamentary seats of that magnitude within a time span of twelve (12) years should be a great source of worry to the rank and file of the NDC leadership. Why should the party be so unpopular within the period under review? I believe that there might be a missing link and this could be attributed to the fact that the very objective of AFRC/P(NDC) was totally flawed and greatly digressed to self-seeking greediness. Many Ghanaians who followed them ignorantly now feel betrayed and are moving away from a party which preaches virtue but practises not. Furthermore, it is also a fact that since 1992, the party has been loosing almost all by-elections and particularly since 2000, there has been six (6) by-elections and it has lost all to the ruling NPP. By-elections, the world over, are used by political parties to test their popularity and strength and I consider it as very important gauge in the political arena and therefore should not be taken for granted. This points to the fact that NDC public appealing image is waning so fast. Also, the present state of the party's persistent diminishing popularity amongst Ghanaian voters is the fact that most people who joined the party or sympathise with it did so not because they love and cherish the party ideals, but rather they were induced by money and other incentives which have now proved to be unsustainable; while others, by sheer ignorance and the kind of fear that engulfed this nation in the “dark days” in this country. The result is what they are reaping because now that the dashing-out of money and other incentives are not forthcoming, and the so called fear is completely wiped out, these ignorant and innocent individual are becoming very much conscious of themselves and are making their own informed decisions based on what is happening now and what they are seeing with their two eyes. This situation makes me to support the popular view that “Teach a child how to fish so that he/she can fish himself/herself when he/she grows.
I think one fundamental factor is that NDC is not a true believer in democratic tenets and the party is seen by many as very intolerable. Dissenting views are less tolerated and the kind of treatment meted to those who joined Kwasi Botchwey camp during its so called “presidential primaries” is a typical example. What happened to Kofi Asante and the rest? As such people who would like to have freedom of association and want to express their views are also on the move.
From the above, one can say that the last days and indeed the “doom” time of NDC is at hand. Their charismatic party leader and founder is even doing more harm than good to the party. Will the party be able to survive another four years and if so can they have a formidable NDC of 1992 and 1996 in 2008? Certainly, there is a crashing electoral defeat that awaits them come 7th December 2004. With yet another diminishing parliamentary seats and an overwhelming and unalloyed support for Kufuor and the NPP party, it will be uneasy and the journey to the 2008 election will be a rough one.
The 2004 election by all indication is for the ruling NPP government. This fact is only accepted by those who are realistic and could see how things are taking place now. This means that the journey to the 7th December elections is coming to a close and I think that the earlier NDC starts to put its house in order by looking at the above issues from a strategic perspective, the better will be for them if they are to really make an impact, if any, come 2008 general elections.
I will conclude by saying that time and time again that, building a political party around one particular person is a dangerous political suicide. Institutional form of leadership is the best option. Professor Atta Mills even though he is going to suffer an untold electoral defeat, should not be blamed too much because he has been made to carry a load that is too heavy and been used as a mere scapegoat by NDC. Professor Mills should have known this long before. But it is too late now. Will they be able to survive this coming turbulent electoral defeat and get their party well on track for 2008 will definitely require a total party re-engineering of its philosophy and orientation. If what have been stated above just fall on death ears, then history will repeat itself and in not a distant future NDC will be in coma forever. Thomas Obeng -Sweden Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.