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Transformation, change or none of the two?

BY: Joe Frazier
The major political parties with desire to change or transform Ghana
The major political parties with desire to change or transform Ghana

Only a while ago, I was an addict of WhatsApp. I would use it to chat, send messages and in a few cases write long letters. If the network was good, I could even use it as a phone and it is all free.

I really over-indulged it. In this, I was not alone. Some send frivolous messages and jokes. Formerly I would read all the messages and attempt responding to them. Recently however, I am getting irritated by some worthless talks and I delete them as fast as I receive them. One message I received yesterday posed a question which I could not ignore.

An unknown contact asked me: “If you had fallen into a deep slumber on a day in January 1966 and woke up on Saturday, November 26, 2016 to find that a national election was due in 11 days, what would you find odd?” On the spur, I would find it extremely unbelievable that the names of Kwame Nkrumah and Dr Busia were missing from the presidential ballot. They were the contestants I knew before I fell asleep. I reflected long and the story of Rip van Winkle, a character in a popular short story authored by Washington Irving in the mid-1780s came to my mind.

Rip van Winkle was a very loyal citizen of the British Monarchy when America was one of her colonies. Rip van Winkle had a nagging wife and he decided to avoid her by 20 years self-induced sleep, hoping she would change her irritating habits before he woke up. Ironically when he came back from his slumber he found that his wife had died a long time ago. Additionally he found himself in America where the Monarchy had no relevance because British colonialism had been overthrown through the American War of Independence. Rip van Winkle felt a monumental “change” and concluded that change was not a word to be trifled with.

When I reflected deeper into what I would come to meet after 50 years non-existence in the conscious world, I recognised that Ghana’s politics has not changed at all. Nkrumah and Dr Busia are ever present on the ballot for December 7 through proxies who are scions of founding fathers. Nkrumah is represented by His Excellency John Dramani Mahama, son of Emmanuel Dramani Mahama, Regional Commissioner and Minister of Agriculture at different times in the CPP Government.John Dramani Mahama is the flag bearer for the National Democratic Congress (NDC), a cross-breed party with strong Young Pioneer DNA.

 Nana Akufo-Addo, son of Edward Akufo- Addo one time Chief Justice and President of Ghana represents the Busia-Danquah tradition under the New Patriotic Party (NPP). His running mate Dr Mahamudu Bawumia is a son of the legendary Mumuni Bawumia whose feet had trodden the paths of all political regimes in Ghana’s history.

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The political rhetoric, epithets and the tribal innuendos are there as is also the politics of “things.” Threats to personal security, though not on the scale of Preventive Detention, are amply demonstrated in tacit party sponsored vigilante impunity and violence.

My memory is not short to recall that on achieving constitutional rule in 1993, NDC was in power up to 2000 when she was unseated by NPP in a free and fair election. The NPP was in turn defeated by the NDC in 2008 in an eight-year power rotation tango. If this trend continues then it is expected that the NPP would win the 2016 election.  As one of the numerous laws attributed to Murphy says, “All things being equal, what is likely to happen according to trends will happen.”

In the event of power shifting to the Opposition what are we likely to see? The change we have been promised will never happen.  As Rip van Winkle concluded three centuries ago, the six-letter word “change” is not to be toyed with. The Ghanaian moral value has not changed in the last 20 years when power rotated between NDC and NPP. The same politicians who are educated in the same institutions, worship in the same churches and mosques and belong to the same professional associations are going to take over the reins of power. This, with all respects is no change.

As for transformation that the NDC promises with the “toaso” mantra, it is like a chameleon march – giddily with no progress in sight. Who is patient for it? In a nation where traditionally the top political leaders do not offer the right leadership, punish wrong-doing and offer no incentive for meritocracy and honesty, how can the poorly-paid public worker embrace change or transformation and stop pinching from the kitty in a winner-takes-all frenzy?