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Wed, Aug

Quest for materialism bane of country’s democracy — Lee Ocran

Alhaji Huudu Yahaya (left), former General Secretary of NDC, launching the book. With him is Dr William Ahadzie, Director of Research Department of NDC and also the author of the book. Picture: Maxwell Ocloo

The Vice Chairman of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Mr Lee Ocran, has identified the quest for materialism as the bane of the country’s democracy.

According to him, the quest for materialism by politicians which is becoming the order of the day, is the cause of the prevailing moral decadence drawing the country backwards.

Mr Ocran was speaking at the launch of a second edition of a book on social democracy in Accra last Wednesday.

The launch brought together some members of the NDC, including a former General Secretary, Alhaji Huudu Yahaya, the International Relations Officer, Mr Kofi Attor, the Deputy General Secretary, Mr Koku Anyidoho, and a former Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Professor Kweku Danso-Boafo.

The book

Entitled “Basics on Social Democracy (Volume II): Social democracy in Africa; the past, the present and the future,” the 74-page book was launched by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) Ghana.

The author, Dr William Ahadzie, who is also the Director of Research of the NDC, traced the African historical and contemporary experiment of political ideologies that are either variants of or find utmost expression in social democracy.

Two case studies of the Angola and Ghanaian experiment and ideological trajectory of social democracy were critically considered.

The publication also argued and summarised the failures of market-led systems which include the deepening of inequality, and refers to social democracy as the most viable political ideology that is able to inject and apply the required social tools needed for social inclusion and justice in a bid to climb up the development ladder in developing countries.

Ideologically driven politics

Mr Ocran further described politics in the country as boring because it was no longer driven by ideologies.

He said, for instance, many people could not differentiate the NDC, a social democratic party, from the New Patriotic Party (NPP), a liberal democratic party, a trend he found worrying.

Social democracy

In a presentation, Dr Ahadzie stressed the need for African countries to practically include the ideology of social democracy in their political pursuits.
He observed that many political organisations and institutions that espoused social democracy ideology had left the concept undefined which, in itself, had created a knowledge gap as to which values and principles drive social democracy.

According to him, social democracy had the potential to provide a stable macro environment for infrastructure, public health, education and training, technological transfer, export incentives and drive the private sector to overcome coordination failures.

“Social democratic systems and principles are re-emerging within a totally different context of constitutional representative government. The challenge for the left and centre-left is to compete to win political power as a condition for realising the ultimate goal of its system of governance,” he stated.

Dr Ahadzie said the social democratic journey and culture on the African continent needed more room for harmonisation and consolidation of the values and ideals into a working culture and identity while effectively influencing government policies, programmes and projects.

Faulty steps

Relating social democracy to the ideology of the NDC, Dr Ahadzie said, the party had some policies that had grass-roots participation in decision making at the local and national levels.

However, Dr Ahadzie attributed the loss of the NDC in the 2016 election to the adoption of neo-liberal policies that alienated the party’s allies, in particular, the labour movement such as teachers, drivers and workers.

He said the removal of subsidies, freeze on new recruitment, introduction of severe taxes, labour rationalisation policies and highly priced social goods such as housing, utilities, introduced hardship to the citizens.

“The growing youth unemployment, limited coverage of safety nets, in particular, the school feeding programme, the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) and the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), and the growing income inequality and impoverishment of the rural and urban poor contributed to the loss of the party,” he added.

Way forward

For his part, the Resident Director of FES, Mr Frtiz Kopsieker, observed that some decades back, Africans were known for their social democratic values but that now, some people were using politics to enrich themselves.

According to him, reverting to social democracy could provide a conceptual framework to build prosperous societies.