The adverse influence of partisan politics

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    President Akufo-Addo and former President Rawlings

    By Anthony Kwadwo Kyei (anthokyei@gmail.com)

    Every time I listen to communicators of both the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) on radio and television programmes, I ask one rhetorical question: Who is telling Ghanaians the truth?

    Whilst NPP communicators make it seem as though the Akufo-Addo government has performed excellently so far, NDC communicators, on the other hand, paint a gloomy picture as though the ruling government has done virtually nothing since it assumed the reins of power in January 2017. Undoubtedly, their partisan politics on almost every national issue could potentially throw many a Ghanaian into a state of confusion.

    In principle, politics is not bad. However, when politics assumes partisan dimensions, it becomes dirty, stinky and unattractive, as it is fraught with hypocrisy, lies, slander, name-calling, greed, propaganda, populism, envy, mischief, sabotage, destructive criticisms, equalisation, empty rhetoric, unfulfilled promises, among other repulsive tendencies that are inimical to nation-building and the growth of democracy.

    Partisanship vs nationalism  

    Partisan politics or partisanship drives me up the wall in that sincerity, objectivity, rationality and credibility have been hurled to the dogs in the country. Indeed, the disposition of many Ghanaian politicians leaves a bitter taste in the mouth and it vividly betrays their real intentions of entering politics.

    Judging by their unenviable actions and inaction, one can easily conclude that they are unmitigated self-seekers who don’t have the interests of Ghana at heart. They place personal interests and partisanship above nationalism. Obviously, partisan politics has a greater influence on politicians than nationalism.

    As a result, they allow partisanship to blind their sincerity, objectivity, credibility and rationality. They view almost every national issue with a ‘political lens’. Some even resort to tribal politics to win votes by inciting certain tribes against their political opponents.

    Lack of sincerity

    They see eye to eye with every decision or policy of the ruling government of the day when their party is in power. However, when their party is in opposition, they criticise and kick against every policy of government, whether good or bad. Thus, in opposition, they become pessimists by default.

    Their pessimism becomes evident when they mischievously spew out discouraging statements, such as ‘it can’t be done’, ‘it is not possible’, ‘it will surely fail’, ‘Ghana is not ready for it now’ etc., against every policy of the ruling government. And they hardly give credit to their political opponents where it is due.

    For instance, since Ghana transitioned to multi-party democracy in 1992, when has a member of an opposition party lauded the annual budget statement of a ruling party? On the other hand, when has a member of a ruling government criticised the annual budget statement of his or her government? Food for thought!

    Sabotage, destructive criticisms

    When their party is in opposition, they have one major agenda – to discredit the ruling government in order to make it unpopular so that their party can gain electoral advantage. As a result, their actions clearly show that they do not wish the country well at all in terms of development. Every success story of the ruling government is bad news and a big blow to them in that it impedes their selfish desires to come back to power. They, therefore, resort to sabotage and destructive criticisms with the aim of gaining electoral advantage.

    When their party is at the helm of power, politicians justify policies, decisions and programmes they criticised when in opposition. They invariably take a keen interest in politics of convenience and equalisation. They hardly take the flak when things go wrong, and they disseminate propaganda as a political strategy.

    Due to partisan politics, important uncompleted projects initiated by previous governments are often abandoned by ruling governments who think their political opponents would take the credit after the completion of the projects. But continuity in governance is crucial to development.

    Slander, political talk

    More seriously, some politicians resort to slanderous allegations due to partisan politics. They allow envy and propaganda to influence them to deliberately concoct stories to run down and tarnish the reputation of their political opponents.

    For example, in retrospect, when Ms Comfort Ama Benyiwa-Doe (aka Ama Chavez) of the NDC sat before the Parliamentary Appointments Committee in 2009, she confessed that all the allegations of drug dealings she made against the then flagbearer of the NPP, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, had no basis. She said: “It was all political talk.”

    Aside from Ama Chavez, some other politicians have appeared before the same committee and made similar confessions. Now, my questions are: What is political talk? Is not synonymous with insincere talk? Do these politicians expect the ordinary Ghanaian electorate to take their so-called political talk seriously? What do they take us for?

    Deception

    Besides, they pull the wool over the eyes of the ordinary Ghanaian electorate with phantom promises they can’t fulfil. They pretend to be loving, caring and empathetic only during election years when they badly need votes to win power.

    Interestingly, when they are in opposition, they pretend to be patriotic. They pretend to have all the knowledge and prudent ideas that could potentially push this country forward in terms of development. However, when they win power, their so-called knowledge and prudent ideas seem to vanish into thin air. As a result, they employ politics of equalisation and convenience to justify their incompetence and failure.

    Machiavellian tactics

    Instead of focusing on national development to improve the living standards of the ordinary Ghanaian, all that a typical Ghanaian politician thinks about is how his party can win the next election. Of course, winning the next elections is the major priority of majority of Ghanaian politicians. To them, it is a do-or-die affair.

    Some of them are power-conscious to the extent that they don’t even care if they can ascend to power through Machiavellian tactics. Sadly, politics without principle has become the order of the day!

    I strongly concur with John Calvin Thomas, an American syndicated columnist, when he once said: “One of the reasons people hate politics is that truth is rarely a politician’s objective. Election and power are.”

    The reality is that partisanship cannot profit the poor in rural Ghana who lack potable water, electricity, good shelter and yet continue to exercise their franchise in the name of democracy. Partisanship cannot change the destiny of Ghana when politicians have refused to be patriotic and nationalistic in the discharge of their responsibilities. And partisanship cannot benefit Ghana when politicians have become corrupt, egocentric, greedy, mendacious and insincere.

    Way forward

    Albeit democracy has offered the country some relative peace, it is noteworthy that partisan politics could potentially derail national development. Therefore, it is about time Ghanaian politicians went against party lines and ideological underpinnings in the interest of national development.

    As Ghanaians, we must be discerning enough in order not to identify with insincere, greedy, self-centred and corrupt politicians, for they don’t have anything good to offer Mother Ghana. Ghana needs sincere politicians who are not blinded by partisan politics.

     

    The author is a writer and a proofreader

     

     

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