“Politics has become so expensive that it takes a lot of money even to be defeated”
“The overflow of big money in politics drowns out the voices of everyday people… The more money you have, the more speech you have.”
AND SO IT CAME TO PASS that the National Democratic Congress pegged the filing fee for the upcoming presidential primaries at GH¢400,000; the nomination forms at GH¢20,000. Ebei! Was it said in jest (wisecrack) or in seriousness (graveness)?
The NDC has always tried to portray to the world that they are “social democrats” characterized by commitment to policies that are aimed at eradicating inequality, poverty, oppression of underprivileged groups…etc. Whenever they express their motto this way, there is always a subtle attempt at ‘equalisation’ with the NPP. As for the NPP, so they vow, they are the elite, the bourgeois class. The NPP, they further expostulate, does not have the poor in mind. The NDC came for the down-trodden, the ordinary workers, the ‘mmobrowa’, any person who is down. And as a demonstration, they appointed Dr Seidu Daannaa, a physically challenged person (visually impaired) a Minister of State for Chieftaincy Affairs. No wonder, their origin is the PNDC under whose governance, price controls were nation-wide – people had to queue for “essential commodities” from People’s Shops. Market women who were “economic saboteurs” were whipped in the back for “hoarding” (there was nothing like warehousing).
The Ministers (at those times call ‘Secretaries’) were very simple in their taste and dressing, preferring ‘Afro Moses’ (Tokota) to dainty shoes – even at their offices; Efua Yankey shirts to designer ones and sometimes even T-Shirts being preferable. You could see them sporting ‘huhudious’ beards, and they were trying to mimic Karl Marx – of course, they could parrot the Marxist Principles; dialectical materialism, class conflict, social ownership of the means of production, common ownership of communal property: “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.” Even though Karl Marx once said that if Paul Lafarque’s views were considered Marxist, then “one thing is certain and that is that I am not a Marxist.”
What is 400,000 cedis to those of us born before independence? It was nothing more than the present-day GH¢ 40. Till, my room-mate, Kwadwo Baah Wiredu, moulded by J. A. Kufour, demonetized the cedi – in 2007, a far-cry of the PNDC demonetization which saw the recall of the 50 cedi notes. (In 1982, those whose bank accounts were in excess of 50,000 cedis (now GH¢5) were subjected to investigative probes.
Now, GH¢ 400,000 is 4 billion cedis, among the Ancient Citizens, written in figures as 4,000,000,000. (But for the demonetization, we would be calculating figures with many zeros, and we might now have reached a zillion cedis: we do not even want to know how many zeros that would cover).
When the announcement came from the National Executive Committee (NEC), there was political hue and cry. Asiedu Nketia, now wallowing in wealth apparently from various sources including contracts at Bui, thought the amount was “well-intended”: to take care of the “expanded and deepened democratic electoral process”.
Eight of the potential flagbearers have written to Dr. Dr. Rawlings, the owner of the NDC, complaining that the outrageous figure was repugnant to the party’s commitment to social democracy. Dr Ekwow Spio-Garbrah says he is visually impaired. A well written letter to the owner stated: “We oppose these high fees on the grounds that they call the Party’s fundamental commitment to social democracy into question. As a social democratic party, NDC must always be committed to breaking down class and social barriers and building a more inclusive politics and society. Our mission is to empower those marginalized by our elitist social institutions… The imposition by NEC of filing fees that would exclude the vast majority of Party members from offering themselves for office is unacceptable to us…”
The eight (call them ‘conspirators’ if you like) have called into question the authority of the NEC to publish the guidelines without following the procedural requirements in Article 42 (1) (f) of the Party’s Constitution; they have berated the NEC for not holding ‘stake-holder consultation’ first; they have criticized the NEC of not providing a “level playing field” and also openly displaying “open bias”. The eight ‘conspirators’ are Sylvester Mensah, Alban Bagbin, Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, Stephen Atubiga, Nurudeen Iddrisu, Goosie Tanoh, Kojo Bonsu and Elikplim Agbemava. Unlike the Roman Senate Conspirators against Julius Caesar in 44BC, after Caesar had been declared ‘dictator perpetuo’ (perpetual dictator) – Gaius Longinus, Decimus Junius Brutus Albinus, and Marcus Junius Brutus – there were no Ides of March, no Theatre of Pompey, no festival of Lupercalia. They went to the owner of the party and lodged a petition.
The owner of the Party must be in a quandary – no doubt about this. There are many problems within the NDC, and one can only say the chicks have come home to roost. There is a parallel in Ghana’s own history. NLM/UP was said to be the ‘bourgeois party’; CPP was the ‘socialist party’; after the overthrow of CPP and a probe (Krobo Edusei said he was not probe-able) it was revealed that one Minister had as many as 36 houses! Some socialism indeed!
Meanwhile, John Dramani Mahama is romping home on a swift dash. }nntee s[ odobo bi rehono ab[ (He is nonchalant about the complaints of the ‘conspirators’). Mahama and Joshua Alabi are reported to have paid the filing fee: GH¢4.0 HT or GH¢4.2 HT.
Highlife legend, Kwame Ampadu, used to sing a song: “Ebi te yie, Ebi nso nte yie koraa” (Some are well situated, others are not). Don’t you have pity for Mahama? Why does he appear so desperate to come to power again? You see, Nana Addo, is growing younger and younger. In 2020, his blows may give a deadly punch (Nana Addo was a boxer in his youth). What happens if he knocks out Mahama in the first round? Left jab, right power hand, uppercut, a hook, KNOCK-OUT. Disgrace, ignominy, shame, embarrassment. I am not praying for this, nor am I praying for anything – but just a premonition.
But for the NDC as a party, they must “listen to themselves” NOT “listen to one another”. Where is your “moral high ground”? Without the opportunities to “create, loot and share”, look at what is happening. This should serve as a useful lesson. No more Woyome, no more free lunch? Will Ghanaian political leaders be prepared to live Mahatma Gandhi’s ascetic life?
When the pigs in George Orwell’s novella “Animal Farm” (1946) started their revolution, one of the 7 commandments of Animalism was: “Four legs good, two legs bad.” Later, after carousing on whiskey and other goodies, this was changed to “Four legs good, two legs better” In the end, all the 7 commandment were changed to only one “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others”.
Are we guided by all the theories we learnt at school: resolving existential questions, the human condition, ethics, epistemology, logic…? What about the theorists: Aristotle, Plato, Thomas Aquinas, Jeremy Bentham, Descartes (with his philosophical statement: “Je pense, donc je suis’ (I think, therefore I am) Jean Jacques Rousseau ‘Social Contract’. Warren Buffet warns: “Let only individuals contribute – with sensible limits per election. Otherwise, we are well on our way to ensuring that a government of the moneyed, by the moneyed, and for the moneyed, shall not perish from the earth.”
Africanus Owusu – Ansah