10 Jan Ghana Election 2020 :Underrating the political opponent can be very costly
Prepared by Dr.Richard Adu-Gyamfi, Anthony Twumasi Ameyaw and Ebenezer Osei-Owusu.
The recent happenings during the inauguration of the Eighth Parliament of the Republic of Ghana speaks volumes about the use of strategy and tact in politics.
The legislative arm of Ghana’s government – The Parliament – abled by 275 constituencies, once again tilted toward a dichotomy of political parties – the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and New
Patriotic Party (NPP).
Since an uninterrupted democratic dispensation beginning in 1992, the two parties have interchangeably been in the helms of national governance and legislation, amidst a scanty representation by minor parties and independent members of Parliament (MPs).
After a keenly contested and concurrent Presidential and Parliamentary election, the NDC and NPP are still battling which party constitutes the majority or minority in Parliament.
The Presidential election is also been contested at the Supreme Court by the NDC, which laments vote massaging by the Electoral Commission to favour the incumbent NPP.
The nation has thus been thrown into suspense and will have to await the ruling of the Supreme Court to determine the legitimate President. Meanwhile, history is repeating itself.
Similar to the case in 2012, the President-elect has been sworn-in regardless of the outstanding election petition. Interesting times lie ahead for Ghana !
The race to choose the main Speaker, First and Second Deputy Speakers of Parliament was riddled with chaos at a place which one would consider as the epicentre of law and order.
On 6th January 2021, the Parliament of Ghana was home to voting booth kicking, ballot snatching and pious orgies – the very same actions MPs would have condemned, should they have happened at polling stations.
It was appalling for the Military to step-in to calm lawmakers.
Regrettably, the nation touted as a beacon of democracy on the sub-continent, became the ridicule of some international media.
Perhaps what saved the situation from being overblown, was its co-incidence with the insurrection in the United States where fanatic supporters of Mr. Donald Trump terrorised the nation’s Capitol at a time the US Congress was validating Mr. Joe Biden as President-elect.
Despite the cacophony exhibited in the Ghanaian Parliament, the use of psychological smartness has a lesson to teach in politics. It begun with the NDC taking over the seating area of the majority. It shockingly unsettled NPP and set the tone for rest of the night. One
may say that the NDC was ahead of the curve before the day began and they appear to have infiltrated the camp of NPP to secure either intel or compromise or both about that rebel NPP vote needed to elect an NDC Speaker of Parliament.
The NPP will later engage in ballot snatching with the intention to cause a re-run of elections, having sensed mischief or defeat, whether by genuine or foul play. Apparently, an injunction had been placed on the legitimacy of one Member of Parliament (MP)-elect representing the Assin North Constituency, who possessed dual citizenship but belonged to the camp of NDC.
The laws of Ghana forbid any high-ranking public official to hold a second nationality, but it surprises many of the tactical genius and legal manoeuvres the NDC waged to justify the presence of the MP-elect of Assin North in Parliament.
Whatever tact was applied, one could relate that if the legitimacy of the President is still been contested and yet can be sworn in, this presented a leverage for the NDC to bring in the MP under injunction.
Quite surprisingly, it seemed the NPP was neither prepared for Assin North MP defying the court injunction nor for any defiant moves by
the NDC. One manoeuvre after another, the NDC consistently seemed better prepared and playing the cleverer game – both clean and dirty.
The sheer dominance of NDC on the night against the helplessness of the NPP was indeed a stunning sight to behold.
In 2016, Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo Addo of the NPP won the Presidential election by a clear margin of more than a million votes against his main contender and incumbent Mr John Dramani Mahama of the NDC. The former party won 169 Parliamentary seats against the latter of 106.
In 2020, Nana Addo won the Presidential election by a little over 500, 000 votes. Mr Mahama pulled up a close chase many could not have seen coming while Nana Addo’s votes shrunk.
The incompetency tag perpetually Mr Mahama may have waned with
time, yet that was still a mantra been trumpeted on NPP election campaign platforms.
Surprisingly, the NPP woefully lost 32 Parliamentary seats, one of which an NPP-defected independent MP-elect won and now serves as Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament. While NPP flopped to 137 seats, the NDC flipped to 136.
The two remaining seats – one now serving as Second Deputy Speaker and the one still contested, will determine the fate of who becomes the majority in Parliament.
It also remains to be seen whether the seats of the three Speakers of Parliament counts in the formation of the majority and minority in Parliament.
Notwithstanding, several factors may account for the loss of parliamentary seats for the NPP and a clear Presidential election victor devoid of controversy.
Nevertheless, one factor cannot be ruled out – that the NPP underrated the NDC in both the Presidential and Parliamentary elections.
In connection to this, one lesson is critical. The NPP must realise that the NDC also has psychological prowess. They have
governed the democratic nation for 16 years with a strong grassroot base and must therefore not be glossed over.
Should the election petition even favour the NPP, the NDC can literally govern an NPP regime through the Speaker of Parliament, precisely when the President and Vice President of the land are out of the country concurrently.
For the past few days, we have learned and still learning that politics is not about underrating your opponent at any material time but continuously renewing your strategy and tact under an overarching ambition to improve the well-being of the ordinary voter on the street.
However, and in no uncertain terms, we condemn the chaotic and violent actions exhibited by lawmakers irrespective of their political affiliations in the last few days. Such actions can pill over into mass violence through the grassroots if perpetuated. May Ghana stand tall in the face of this parliamentary scuffle and debates yet to ensue in parliament.
This article is compilation of intensive and heated debates that ensue on the WhatsApp
platform of the 1999 Cohort, Opoku Ware School in Kumasi, Ghana.