Since Kwame Nkrumah broke away from the UGCC to form the CPP in 1949, generations of Ghanaians grew to know two main political traditions, with the Danquah-Busia tradition on the right pitted against Nkrumaist adherents on the left.
Until 1992, these two opposing political philosophies and groupings mostly shared the constitutional leadership in this country, with both securing loyal followings. But since the first democratic elections under the Fourth Republic, the Nkrumaists have slowly but surely given up their traditional political ground, their performance worsening with each election year as grassroots support slipped and splintered away, much of it to reinforce the NDC ranks. The NPP during the same period of time has of course gone from strength to strength: winning 30 percent of the popular vote in 1992, jumping to 40 percent in 1996, 48 percent in 2000 (first round) and President Kufuor winning 126 of the 230 constituencies with 52% of the votes in 2004.
Meanwhile, success for the Nkrumah movement has gone just the other way, with a steady decrease in voter support. The combined total of Nkrumaist-party votes in the last election was less than three percent – pitiful in comparison, and a marked change from the 11.4 percent combined poll it mustered in the 1992 elections.
Clearly the Nkrumaist groups are in no position to pose any serious threat to either of the leading political forces as they stand today; indeed, if the CPP was a company and not a political party, it would long since have been declared bankrupt.
It appears that the root of this electoral embarrassment is the lack of unity, purpose, cohesiveness and direction in the Nkrumaist “movement” – which has in fact become a disparate collection of separate movements, sometimes going in very different directions.
Simply put, the CPP is not sexy.
We welcome a challenge to the unhealthy rivalry between the NPP and NDC. So long as the cause of that bitterness and enmity, former President Rawlings, maintain influence over his party, we shall continue to call for a third political force the challenge the two main political parties.
The Statesman would therefore welcome the news that CPP and PNC may finally hold a merger congress on March 7, and to elect a new National Executive for what will be the new Convention Peoples Party. We are pleading to members of the two parties to support this proposed merger congress, especially for it to take place at the earliest possible time.
The Nkrumaist movement has for too long been so splintered as to be ineffectual; vague talks and vague moves towards Nkrumaist unity have characterised the interactions of the many groups, but now for the first time Nkrumaist unity looks set to become a more solid reality.
The emergence or reemergence of any solid challenge to the often complacent leading parties, too used to fighting only one another, can only have a positive effect on the buoyancy of what can at times be a very stagnant and inert political environment.
As this paper argued in an editorial of January 10, 'A third party is welcome,' and there is clearly room for a new 'serious' political party in our country, a genuine 'third force' which might give the two leading political parties a good hard shake-up. Whether this force will be assumed by the new CPP after the merger congress or by the new party with Obed Asamoah touted as its leader however remains to be seen.
Certainly, if the new CPP is to have any chance of shaking up the wider political scene and improving upon its recent electoral performances, the CPP will first need to shake up and reorganise itself. The consistent electoral failings of the CPP have exposed the folly in going into battle riding on Nkrumah and using his memory as a sword. Recent events within the CPP have left even some of its most loyal and longstanding members uncomfortable and saddened; so much so that there have been calls upon the leadership of the party to resign.
Now, it appears that those who have shown gross disloyalty and been calling for a new national executive for the CPP might have got more than they bargained for in a very positive sense: a whole new party is in the offing. Now, let them show the electorate that they have what it takes to win the party over and perform better than the Delle team.
This should be seen as an opportunity for disillusioned Nkrumaist loyalists to reinvigorate their movement, from the inside out and from the bottom up. An opportunity for Nkrumaists to direct or redirect their movement anew, and – united – to put their philosophy to the popular test.
Time to make the CPP revive its old sex appeal without Nkrumah's charisma.