Pre-conference message by Jerry John Rawlings


On the eve of the 2010 National Delegates Conference of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) I call on all members and sympathisers of the party to appreciate the significance of the congress to the survival of our dear party.

The NDC was founded on July 28, 1992 based on social democratic principles – to uphold social justice and develop a state that served as a true umbrella for the people of Ghana.

You are aware our party is a direct descendant of June 4, 1979 and 31st December 1981 – two stages in the life of this country that led to the development of a sense of nationalism and devolvement of people’s power never before witnessed in Ghana.

Our difficult re-election to power in early 2009 was as a result of the people’s belief in the NDC as having the capability to stem the rot that had engulfed the social fabric of the country after the NPP had virtually taken the country as its private property and dissipated our national resources in a wanton abuse of power that virtually brought Ghana’s economy on its knees.

The NDC has already entered the second year of its term and aside the words of self-adulation coming from members of government the ordinary people of Ghana are very unimpressed with the state of our nation and the uncoordinated manner the rot of the immediate past is being tackled.

Sadly the past few months has seen the adoption of a canker that was best identified with the NPP and which will destroy our party if not stopped immediately.

Constituency, regional, women and youth elections have been held across the country ahead of this weekend’s conference and we have all been witnesses to the terrible abuse of the process through the distribution of large sums of money to sway delegates to vote in certain directions.

Those who are distributing these monies are members of government or government-sponsored candidates who have refused to sell their qualities to delegates but have rather chosen to buy the delegates. This is alien to the party and so embarrassing that we have become the laughing stock of our opponents and a painful reminder of the rot of the immediate past to our ordinary supporters who have sacrificed for the party through some very difficult periods.

We are undermining the very weapon that gave us victory – integrity. Some of the elements who have managed to emerge through this abominable syndrome are even unfit for party office. Are we making progress or declining?

In the run up to the Congress I have heard party leaders warn candidates to desist from attempting to influence candidates with money. What did they do to stop this during the elections already held?

I commend our membership across the country who overwhelmingly voted with their conscience and refused to be swayed by monetary influence to vote in a certain direction.

The NDC is at the crossroads. We are in government at a difficult period in world economic history and those who identify with the ideals of the party recognise it was borne out of a quest for people’s power and a desire to involve the people in national development. Our strengths always lay in the ability to protect our people from the savagery of capitalism. But now the umbrella cannot protect its own and we are rather introducing elitism into our party.

Delegates are going to deliberate on a number of proposed changes to the party’s constitution and vote for national executive members. Let this process be an opportunity to prove to all Ghanaians that events of the past few months were aberrations and not a sign that the NDC is now veering towards corrupt election practices.

Our failure to vote and take decisions with our conscience will spell the doom of the NDC. If we assume that being in power is an exercise in perpetuity, we are mistaken. We will be creating the opportunity for an alternative movement to grow to take over from us if we fail to uphold the ideals for which the people voted us into power.

The NPP was booted out primarily because it failed to protect the people and introduced a sickening process of property owning democracy. Let not the NDC carve that same path.

I call on delegates to elect people of proven integrity who have paid their dues in the party. Let us not be intimidated by people who seek office because they have direct links to so-called powerful people in government or the party. This process is about the strength and structures of the party.

If the executive is not in touch with the party beyond the manifesto then the executive jeopardises the future stability of the party, which in turn may not be able to put future executives into government. The party gave birth to government and not vice-versa. The party needs to hold government together and ensure that it develops policies that protect the ideals of the NDC.

Our choices this weekend will determine which direction we want the NDC to go – into success or into a collapse. Let your conscience speak. Thank you and good luck.

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