Kwesi Botchwey to be dragged to court
Is Dr. Kwesi Botchwey eligible to run for the National Democratic Congress’ (NDC’s) presidential primaries? That thorny question has been agitating the minds of many NDC functionaries and according to very impeccable sources, some elements in the party who are convinced that the former finance minister, also Ghana’s longest serving finance minister ever, is not qualified to run for the party’s presidential slot, have threatened to go to court over the issue. Investigations by "the Independent" have revealed that some NDC party chieftains have after consultations with their legal friends, in the party, been convinced that legally, the decks are stacked against Dr. Botchwey’s candidature, because of his current status”. Dr. Botchwey resigned as minister for finance some six years ago during the first term of the NDC government, an action for which received widespread commendation in the media, as the mark of a man of principle. Today, however, his resignation is being used against him. His detractors claim that he ceased to be a member of the NDC; the very day he resigned his post as the finance minister. “The Independent is reliably informed that Kwesi Botchwey’s adversaries are only bidding their time. Perhaps they are waiting for the day the former finance minister goes for his nomination forms. They don’t want to premise their legal battle on news paper reports”. According to NDC sources, two legal luminaries in the party – Benjamin Kumbuor, MP for Lawra-Nandom and the Campaign Manager for Professor Mills and Martin Amidu, former running mate to the Professor in the last election, are leading the anti-Botchwey legal assault. The basis of their action is the belief that Dr. Botchwey is not a card-bearing member of the NDC. The group also contends that in one of his interviews on GTV’s Kweku-One-on-One sometime last year, Dr. Botchwey stated categorically that he was not a member of the NDC. Interestingly, the party’s vetting committee, which is supposed to convene a meeting to vet all prospective candidates, is yet to decide on when to vet the three persons who by all indications seem to be the likely candidates. A paper on the NDC’s modalities on candidates wishing to vie for the presidential slot, which was sighted by the Independent, states that any such candidate should have at least been a member of good standing in the party. But it has been discovered that the Kwesi Botchwey camp seems unperturbed in the least about the current smear being waged against the person of the former finance minister in order to ensure his disqualification from the NDC primaries. “Then there would not be any candidate for the NDC in the 2004 elections. With our current legal system, that case could drag on for years and that would certainly not be in the interest of the ruling party”, one cadre and a highly placed member of the NDC said. The cadre was shocked at moves being made by Kwesi Botchwey’s detractors and wondered if a lawyer of the caliber of Dr. Botchwey would present himself for the NDC slot, if he knew there were problems with his departure. “When did they realize that Kwesi Botchwey was not a member of the NDC? Was it after he has served as a Cabinet Minister under the NDC or was it after he had represented Ghana at major financial meetings under the NDC government? he fumed. He explained that Kwesi Botchwey only resigned his position as a member of the government and not the political party NDC and dared those who were against Kwesi Botchwey’s candidature to tell Ghanaians if Professor Mills had a membership card when he was picked by NDC chieftains to partner ex-president Rawlings in 1996 elections. Another cadre dismissed the argument being advanced by the other camp on what Kwesi Botchwey told Kweku Sakyi Addo. According to him, he watched the recorded programme and said he could bet his last pesewa that nowhere in that interview in that interview did Kwesi Botchwey say what has been attributed to him. He admitted though, that he heard Dr. Botchwey saying he belonged to the CPP tradition, and followed that quickly by saying that he was prepared to work for the NDC. The NDC, which prides itself as the Third Force of Ghanaian Politics, has been able to attract into its fold, members of both the CPP and the UP, the country’s two main political traditions. Former Speaker of parliament, Justice Daniel Francis Annan, who is a thoroughbred UP man, once admitted on Sakyi-Addo’s Kweku-One-On-One programme that although he still maintains his UP tradition, his allegiance was to the NDC. Other UP stalwarts who are currently members of the NDC are Kweku Baah, J.H. Owusu-Acheampong, Alhaji Issifu Ali, A.A. Munufie, with Professor Kofi Awoonor, P.V. Obeng, Captain Kojo Tsikata and Dr. Kwesi Botchwey coming from the CPP. However, snippets of information have indicated that the anti-Botchwey group is now shifting positions. They are now contending that Dr. Botchwey rather made those disclosures in a radio interview. Meanwhile, reports say D. Botchwey who is due in the country at the end of the month is poised to providing answers to all the missing links.