Former President John Mahama has rejected the view that the National Democratic Congress' social democratic leanings make it anti-business.
Speaking at the opening day of the first batch of students of its Ghana Institute of Social Democracy, the former President claimed, businesses have flourished most during the tenure of NDC governments.
The NDC has governed the country for 16 years after a return to multi-party democracy in 1992. Its main political rival the New Patriotic Party calls itself as a liberal democracy whose business philosophy is the free market.
The first NPP government led by John Kufuor, launched what it called the "golden age of business" to signal a pro-business approach to development.
The second NPP government led by Nana Akufo-Addo has said it wants to build "the most business-friendly economy in Africa" and move the economy from taxation to production.
But the 2016 presidential candidate claimed "we must let people understand that our party is not against business. Indeed, it is in our time that our party is in government that businesses have prospered the most".
John Mahama told party cadres, the NDC's political ideology has been misunderstood to mean "social democracy means equalising poverty".
He explained that this misconception could be traced to the revolutionary era of the PNDC where it was felt "the poorer you look the more socialist you are."
He lamented this view has crept into the party's social democratic philosophy which has affected the party's attractiveness to the middle-class.
He said the NDC "has contributed most to the increase of the middle-class" but has lost this economic group to the NPP's liberal democratic tradition.
"When people get into the middle class because of the perception that our party is against property-owning and seeks to equalise poverty, those people... drift into the property-owning classes".
Making a case for social democracy, John Mahama said social democrats also believe in the market economy but clarified that "at the same time we believe the market cannot fairly distribute the fruits of economic growth".
"... so you need a certain state intervention to ensure the poor and vulnerable are not left out".
He said social democracy is about creating social safety nets like free education and free healthcare.
The former President said even conservative parties in developed countries are warming up to social democratic ideas because the philosophy creates social safety nets for economically disadvantaged groups.
As a left-of-centre politician, John Mahama expressed his conviction that the social democratic philosophy is the most appropriate tool for addressing Africa's socioeconomic problems.
"In Africa, if you look at the challenges we face there cannot be any other ideology. If you look at our poverty, you can only afford to be a left-of-centre politician."
Story by Ghana|myjoyonline.com|Edwin Appiah|[email protected]