At a workshop organised by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), under the Ghana Political Parties Programme (GPPP) for leaders of the various political parties and key civil society actors, Prof. Attafua in his 37-page presentation on ‘Political Tolerance, Exclusivity and Accommodation essential elements of multi-party democracy’, held at Aburi over the weekend, made some startling revelations about the politics of recrimination in Ghana.
Prof. Attafua said he was removed from his position at the NIA because he was appointed by former President Kufuor. He wondered why he was not rather perceived as a member of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), since according to him, it was his friends in the previous NDC administration who encouraged him to return to the country after 14years sojourn abroad.
He declared that ‘I am not NPP and I am not NPP hardcore.’ He could not fathom how anybody could hastily conclude that he was NPP.
An NPP Activist and Vice President of FIDA, Ursula Owusu and NPP Member of Parliament (MP) for Ayawaso-West Wuogon, Mrs. Frema Osei-Opare, were seen nodding their heads in agreement with Prof. Attafuah, whilst the likes of Alhaji Huudu Yahaya, the former General Secretary of the NDC and Sherry Ayittey, Minister for Science and Environment and also the Vice Chairperson of the NDC, who chaired the programme, looked on with some straight faces.
‘The painful orgy of political victimizations such as outright dismissals and removals, camouflaged as “Proceed on Leave”, and pretence engagement with a “cross-sections of civil society”, which truly means meeting exclusively with groups, proved to be pitifully sycophantic or strategically committed to the scripted partisanship of the Government of the day, is rather unfortunate’, he emphasised.
According to him, President Mills has not shown any inclination of bringing political opponents, whether from within or outside the NDC into his government, stressing that ‘the foregoing tendencies do not bode well for nation-building, for political integration, and for the social development and progress of Ghana.’
He also questioned why Ghanaians and politicians in particular, have harnessed profound political divisiveness and exclusion, and perfected the art, rhetoric and tactics of what he verily described as mutual abuse, violent accusations and counter-accusations. ‘We have called each other horrendous names and employed unsavory epithets to describe accomplished and noble citizens, towards whom we would ordinarily have shown extreme courtesy and deference, but for partisan politics.
We have cultivated new forms of manufacturing and articulating vicious lies and abuse, using paid anonymous and not-so-anonymous serial callers, who clog the lines and dominate the airspace of phone-in radio programs and heap vitriolic attacks on political enemies’, he noted.
In furtherance of his speech, Prof. Attafuah, who is currently the Executive Director of the Justice and Human Right Institute in Accra, said “we have also engaged in the shameful wholesale criminalization of our key opposing political parties and their leaderships, and consistently employed the criminal justice machinery against selected ‘arrogant’ members of the other side, in a manner that has generated perceptions of political persecution and self-serving claims of fearless law-enforcement.”
As if that is not enough, he noted that politicians have shown a penchant for the callous removal and victimization of public servants appointed during the reign of the other political parties, even when they have done no wrong, saying “we have disregarded the import of reason, logic and evidence, as well as the virtues of compassion and fellow-feeling.”
He believes that these actions, coupled with the stony silence and inactions of those who should be the moral guardians and guarantors of our multi-party democracy, and who should have acted decisively to avert danger, have virtually taken the country perilously close to the brinks of insecurity and possible self-implosion.
For this reason, Prof. Attafuah said “those who conceive of electoral politics as zero sum game, i.e., a win for you is a loss for me, do a tango dance with the future and fortunes of the state”, accusing all past Executive Presidents under constitutional rule in this country of having played the zero sum game, and danced the tango.
When they have brought political opponents into their “inclusive government”, he indicated that these leaders have often kept them on the peripheries of the Cabinet, and ensured that those invited politicians meet one or more of the criteria of being humbled by the experience of ‘carpet-crossing’, they are a spent-force politically, and perceived to be inconsequential political underlings.
‘Presidents Nkrumah and Rawlings embraced politicians of the first and second kind, while President Kufour included in his government politicians of the third kind’, he noted.
Whilst admitting that it is trite that political tolerance, accommodation and inclusivity are essential components of multi-party democracy, Prof. Attafuah stated that from the conduct of the country’s politicians in recent times, it would appear that not many politicians on the NDC-NPP divide appreciate the critical centrality of these foundational concepts, and the practices that must be built on them to the success of our multi-party democracy.