The I in the Collective!
The NDC took a decision to vote against the President’s nominations on principle. We needed President Akufo-Addo to avert his mind to the bloated size of his government/cabinet to show the commitment of the Executive to reduce its expenditure as the government struggles with unsustainable debt.
If you disagree with a position the party and leadership have taken, have the courage of your convictions and speak up! It is cowardice and treachery to hide within the collective to pursue your individual parochial agenda!!! For the first time, I was forced to keep evidence of my votes to protect my integrity and my name!
I’m still reeling from the outcome of the secret ballot in the House on Friday. I’ve sat with the sad realisation that the unfortunate side of being part of a collective is the collective shame that comes with the actions of a few unknown faces whose actions affect everyone.
In the Chamber, when the back and forth was done, the voting began amidst threats to annul your vote if you were caught displaying your ballot paper.
My sister MP, Angela Alorwu-Tay and I, began a discussion on how to ensure that we had evidence of our votes. The last time there was a secret ballot, the women in our caucus were falsely accused en bloc of having betrayed the NDC. Some unscrupulous person even used my picture and that of a number of colleagues as part of that ludicrous headline at the time. We had no intention of allowing our integrity to be attacked again!
The idea of taking a photo of my vote was so alien to me but given the high level of suspicion and finger pointing already in the public domain, I realised it was imperative to take such a drastic measure to protect my integrity, “in the interest of probity and accountability (in the words of the late President JJ Rawlings).”
As the time drew closer for me to vote and I felt the increasing tension in the room, and I decided to put my camera on video mode.
I knew it was risky taking my phone into the booth, because there was a chance that the Speaker might chastise me openly. I told my colleagues sitting in my section what I was going to do and why. I got to the voting booth and nervously lifted my phone to record my hand ticking the ‘No’ column, feeling so annoyed that I was having to subject myself to this! When I got to my seat, I checked the video to make sure it had captured my vote, and then informed my colleagues that it had worked! I then suggested that they do same, for their own protection.
I must admit that I was still shocked by the results. I was crestfallen! But even the knowledge of my evidence of how I voted, did not bring me the relief I had hoped for. People were looking up to us, and we had let the side down.
As I’ve enquired about the possible reasons for what happened, I’ve concluded that we are looking at a situation of different interests converging in a single outcome. So, what is the solution to this wicked problem?
As a party, we have been drifting from our principles and values not-so-slowly, and I guess this is a wakeup call that this drift can no longer be ignored or brushed under the carpet. It took a handful of people and a single iceberg to sink the titanic and with it, many innocent persons drowned or froze to death.
As I type and share this, I’m cognisant of the usual abuse that some people are happy to hurl at anyone who dares, however I know that my reticence on this matter will be even more damaging!
My father continued to advise and chastise the party in the face of sometimes outright abuse from his own, but he remained true to his convictions. I still remember vividly when from his hospital bed, he asked me how the people in my constituency were doing in the lead up to the 2020 General Elections. Even when he was a few days away from his own death, he was still worried about Ghana! On Friday night, I felt this deep pain that maybe it was perhaps better that he was not alive to witness what had happened to the NDC. But then again, I thought perhaps had he been alive he would probably have challenged all of us to go and swear on Antoa or dared us to take a lie-detector test!
Alas! Our Founder is no longer with us, but we have come too far to destroy our own legacy! We must course correct, immediately! We need to return to the values and principles on which this party was built including honesty, accountability, integrity, discipline and commitment to our nation, Ghana!!
By: Dr. Zanetor Agyeman-Rawlings