Politics of Wednesday, 20 November 2019
The New Patriotic Party (NPP) has described as shocking, the sudden change of mind of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) over the upcoming referendum.
The NDC, according to the NPP, had preached for a YES vote at the December 17 referendum to allow for partisan politics at the district level, until last week when it announced a contrary view.
Addressing a news conference in Accra yesterday to register their displeasure, the General Secretary of the NPP, John Boadu said: “We are shocked and outraged at the NDC’s sudden U-turn to now announce that they will be campaigning for a “No” vote on the upcoming referendum to amend Article 55(3) of the Constitution.”
The amendment is to allow political parties to also freely contest in the local government elections and administration, and for voters to be able to hold political parties directly accountable for their stewardship at the local, and not just the national level.
John Boadu recalled that on Tuesday, November 12, 2019, the NDC urged Ghanaians to vote against the proposed amendment.
At a press conference recently, the NDC said the party took the view that the local government system should remain non-partisan and that individuals contest the District Assembly and Unit Committee elections on their own merit. The NDC said that the “needless” NDC-NPP polarisation at the national level should not be extended into the District Assemblies and Unit Committees.
The consequence of exporting this polarisation into the District Assemblies, according to the NDC, is that “very soon, in our villages, there will be “NDC Communal Labour Day” and “NPP Communal Labour Day”. There will also be “NDC market” and “NPP market,” and so on and so forth. We of the NDC believe that all our towns and villages should have one communal Labour Day and one Market, and we can only achieve this by voting NO. We, therefore, decided to campaign for a NO vote at the referendum, and to urge all Ghanaians to vote NO at the referendum.”
But, John Boadu, after accusing the NDC of bad faith, urged Ghanaians to vote YES for the betterment of the country as a whole.
Taking a cue from the NDC’s concerns, which portray some sort of tension, John Boadu said it was rather the winner-takes-all culture of the existing structure that is largely responsible for the tensions between the two main political parties and the gradual marginalisation of minority parties in Ghana, which gets worse election after election.
He noted that President Akufo-Addo, in the interest of Ghana, heeded the growing calls of the people to trade in the power of the President to appoint all Metropolitan Municipal District Chief Executives, for them to be elected directly by the people, through the amendment of Article 243(1) and related provisions.
Amending that provision requires the support of two-thirds (66.7%) of all Members of Parliament.
“With the ruling New Patriotic Party controlling 169 (61%) of the 275 seats in Parliament, and the opposition National Democratic Congress holding 106 (39%), President Akufo-Addo was absolutely clear from the word go that we could not achieve this without the support of the NDC. So, he made consensus-building the basic ingredient for this important constitutional exercise.
“Indeed, and in fact, until the announcement last Tuesday, November 12, 2019, the NDC had all this while been cooperating constructively with government, in Parliament and elsewhere, with the NPP, the Electoral Commission, other political parties, faith-based organisations, traditional authorities, civil society organisations and all other stakeholders for the success of the referendum in returning an emphatic YES verdict.
“This, they have done throughout the many engagements, conferences and symposiums that have been held on the referendum, involving all the major political parties in the country.
“That is why all the political parties, civil society groups, the media and the general public all appear surprised, confused and even hoodwinked by the NDC’s abrupt U-turn last Tuesday, barely five weeks to the referendum of December 17.
“What the NDC displayed last Tuesday was nothing else, but an unpatriotic betrayal of the Ghanaian people. Such a naked show of dishonesty, deceit, indecision, lack of candour and integrity from the biggest opposition party in the country, projects a perception that the NDC would sacrifice the national interest at the altar, rather where cheap political points are scored,” he remarked.