Since 1992 there have been a steady decline in the fortunes of the smaller parties. The minority parties who contested the 1992 election were the People’s Heritage Party (PHP) led by a former military Officer Gen. Emmanuel Erskine, the National Independent Party (NIP) led by Rev Kwabena Darko of Darko Farms( a huge poultry farm) and People’s National Convention(PNC) led by Dr Hilla Limman ,former president who was overthrown in the 1981 coup. These three parties secured 11.31 % of the total votes.
In 1996, the People’s Convention Party which metamorphosed into the Convention Party (CP) and then the Convention People’s Party (CPP) formed the Great Alliance with the NPP, so the PNC was the only minority party which got 3.0% of the votes.
The year 2000 saw an increase in the votes of the minority parties. The parties that contested included the National Reform Party led by Goosie Tandoh, United Ghana Movement led by Dr Charles Wireko Brobbey, People’s National Convention led by Dr Edward Mahama, Convention People’s Party led by Prof George Hagan and Great Consolidated Popular Party led Mr Dan Lartey. They managed to increase their share from the 3.0 % to 7.29 % of the total votes which pushed the elections to a run off and was won by President Kufuor.
There was however a drastic fall in smaller parties votes in 2004, when the PNC and CPP managed a paltry 2.9% of the votes.
2008 saw another increase in the number of parties ie the Convention People’s Party led by Dr Papa Kwesi Nduom, People’s National Convention led by Dr Edward Mahama (who was running for the fourth time) , Democratic People’s Party led by the Veteran Politician Thomas Nyarko Ward-Brew(popularly called T N Ward-Brew), Reformed Patriotic Democrats led by Kwabena Adjei and Democratic Freedom Party led by Emmanuel Ansah-Antwi. Inspite of the noise and the spirited campaign mounted by the CPP’s Dr Nduom and the others the votes of the minority parties still reduced to 2.69%.
2012 was a disaster, the minority parties ie CPP, PNC, UFP and PPP only garnered 1.42 % of the total votes cast.
The just ended 2016 polls recorded a marginal increase of 0.18% resulting in 1.6% for the minority parties.
In the area of parliamentary performance, the minority parties have experienced mixed fortunes.
In 1992 the opposition parties boycotted the parliamentary elections, so my analysis starts from 1996.
Since 1996 , all the minority parties seats in the legislature have been occupied by PNC and CPP.
In 1996 the People’s Convention Party ( which later became the current CPP) had 5 seats with the PNC having only 1.
In 2000 , the CPP’s seat reduced to 1 whilst PNC increased to 3 .
In 2004, the CPP’s seat increased to 3 with the PNC adding 1 more to their share to become 4.
In 2008, the CPP’s seat reduced to 1 whilst reduced to 2.
In 2012, the CPP could not win a single seat whilst the PNC managed to salvage 1 for her self. The CPP by divine providence won a bye election in Kumbungu in the Northern region after incumbent Hon Mohammed Mumuni vacated his seat for an International appointment.
For the first time since 1992, the Ghanaian Parliament will have only two parties ; the NDC and the NPP.
Having bored you with this trip down memory lane and the boring statistics, lets zoom into the normative realm.
From my perspective I have identified the following as the cause of the dwindling fortunes of the minority parties : a) External interference b) Egocentricism of leadership C) Lack of commitment of leaders
d) Weak party structures
(a) External Interference
Almost all the smaller parties’ leaders are the puppets of either the NDC or NPP. They are usually split along 3 lines ; pro-NDC , pro-NPP and the neutrals who usually are not many and hardly occupy any position of influence because they don’t have cash to spend in vote buying during primaries. You don’t need to crack your brains to know the NDC and NPP puppets , just look at the public posturing and pronouncements . Some have become mouthpiece of these two parties so how do you expect Ghanaians to take them serious.
Depending on which of the two parties the executives are aligned to and the areas they will campaign. Indeed I have heard rumours that some of the leaders are asked not to campaign in areas perceived to be the stronghold of their paymasters but rather pound the stronghold of their opponents. These activities of the minority parties have not endeared them to the Ghanaian electorates especially the emerging middle class who form the greater chunk of the floating voters ; who are more discerning and have been yearning for a third force that will break the NDC-NPP political duopoly.
(b) Egocentricism of leaders
It is an undeniable fact that the inability of the PNC and CPP to unite has nothing to do with symbols, colours or even ideology. The leaders of these minority parties are not ready to give up anything for mergers because they will lose their little perks they enjoy as flagbearers , Chairmen and General Secretaries. The posturing of the so-called Nkrumaists parties portrays them more as charlatans who are just using the name of Osagyefo as a means of acquiring wealth and enhancing their social status.
Isn’t it ironic that the CPP has not been able to retain their flagbearers for at least two successive elections. Look this 2000- Prof George Hagan, 2004-Mr George Aggudey, 2008-Dr Papa Kwesi Nduom ,2012-Dr Abu Sakara , 2016-Mr Ivor Greenstreet. Unfortunately for Mr Greenstreet his own words words seem to have caught up with him now because when he as the General Secretary, declared at the CPP’s Upper West Regional Congress that no losing flagbearer is repeated . So I know the Samia elements have their recordings and publications ready for him if he attempts to run again .The cycle then continuous
(c) Lack of Commitment of Leaders
Osagyefo’s popular refrain was “ Organize ! Organize ! because organization decides all .This has become a cliché among Nkrumaists’ parties. The leaders and activists of the minority parties prefer siting on radio and tv to do empty analysis whilst neglecting the more difficult grassroots work. Strangely these leaders are not embarrassed engaging in high minded theoretical work on radio whilst their parties are in total disarray as the statistics I have provided shows.
They look more like “THEORETICIANS” than POLITICIANS. After elections they go to sleep only to resurface a year before the next elections. What meaningful challenge can these smaller parties pose to the two bigger parties .
(d) Weak internal structures
These have very weak structures such as the youth, women and students’ wing. Every party that has won elections in this republic rode on the back of these 3 important organs. The various organizers (ie youth and women ) in these parties are just arm-chair officers doing nothing useful except to come on radio to blow hot air.
The funny aspect of this drama occurs when the flagbearers claim they are touring the country and visits constituencies, only for the party executives who are usually NDC or NPP sympathizers mobilize some people who the town folks know belongs to either the NDC or NPP. Is it therefore surprising when zeros are recorded in polling stations where party executives voted or even when there was a polling agents. The Absence of party structures account for this.
Throughout this piece I have tried to make the point that the minority parties are gradually losing their relevance in our body politic and there is the need for them to consolidate their energies.
Unfortunately based on the reasons that I have given above I am not sure these parties will ever unite in our lifetime let alone pose any meaningful challenge to the two heavy weights.
Like Osagyefo said at the 1963 OAU Conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia that Africans must unite or perish so do I humbly submit that the only salvation for the minority parties is to unite their forces or perish individually. We currently have a defacto two party state considering the downward spiral since 2000.
My next piece next week focuses on the NDC and why they suffered the humiliating defeat at the polls.
Thank you for making time to read this long piece. I am grateful for your time.
#Thoughts of a Village Medical Lab Scientist
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