The people’s party – Osagyefo’s Convention People’s Party – has been rejected by the people yet again. For one stalwart, it’s time to call a halt for good
Sane Eteshi – Matters Arising
Election 2020 is over, except for those still ploughing through the law courts, posts have been won and lost, and there is little jubilation around me. As a lifelong member of the CPP, dealing with issues closer to my heart and head are more important to me now than any comment on the campaign, conduct of the election and presentation of the results.
I would have preferred to have the raw data to investigate patterns in the voting rather than the nice infographics and pictorial presentations we have seen, which do not explain some of the alleged discrepancies resulting in the figures and words presented.
The abysmal performance of my own party, the Convention People’s Party, dealt me an electric shock, and I need some time to recover from this drubbing.
For whom does the bell toll?
They say that time heals all wounds, and I may yet recover, but I doubt whether the CPP will ever recover from this downward spiral of its vote loss and from the total rejection of the party, once seen as supreme, by the very people whom it should be serving – the masses.
Some may try to explain what happened, but it would be an academic exercise in futility that will yield nothing fruitful. It will not remove the structural barriers that bedevil the party and will not resurrect the fortunes of the party.
So, after sober reflection – and without indecent haste, I might add – it is my painful duty to sound the death knell of the CPP, the party to which I have devoted almost all my life.
Back to basics
After the 2012 election, I wrote about the collapse of the people’s parties and wondered whether they really represented the people of Ghana. I wondered what it would take them to unite and reorganise to become more relevant to the people.
I did not pass any comment on the 2016 elections, because yet again the people’s parties could not rise above the 1% mark. The vote for them was a “fractional percentage” of the total votes rejected by the Electoral Commissioner.
I am being hard on the CPP because, as an ardent Nkrumahist and loyal supporter of the party, this is the only way I can express my anguish. The sheer effort that I have expended in trying to help the party along is the reason for this lament.
When we thought the problem was unity, some members of the Nkrumahist forum, me included, presented a document for the reconciliation, reconstruction and revival of the fortunes of the Nkrumahist parties. As usual, meetings were held and pacts were agreed, only for the main leaders to renege on the agreements.
In 2004, when we thought the problem was the lack of a long-term strategy, I joined others to analyse the issues and come up with a plan based on incremental seat targeting which would make us able to have more of an electoral impact in 2016.
Some kicked against the strategy. One or two or many decamped to join the other two main parties; others felt that they should wait and make their move in 2016.
When we thought that the issue was ideology, I assisted in delivering a manifesto in 2008 that would form the basis of an accelerated development based on science and technology. In working on that manifesto, we resolved the problem of what the party stood for – social justice, self-reliance and pan-Africanism.
My kingdom for a horse
What will work for the party now, considering that some of the branches do not even respect those in the leadership? What else does the party need that has not been tried before?
But maybe I was also part of the problem, providing hope when none existed and not helping to build the trust required to keep the broad church that was the CPP together. It was painful to see the infighting when we were nowhere near power and it hurt to see leader after leader desert the party to go and form their own, further fracturing the CPP’s fragile brand.
When a party organises but defers congress for months in the run-up to an election because some leading members are in court; when you see a party work hard to produce a manifesto which then comes in late for an election; when you have a party where the flagbearer is reduced to being a teacher on the campaign trail because there is no message of hope to offer the people; when you realise that the total votes won by the party are less than one-third of the number of polling stations dotted around the country, and that there are many polling stations where the party has not won a single vote because there was no one worthy of standing for the party on the ballot paper, it makes you think.
This election also made me realise that we may not be able to re-create the CPP of Osagyefo Dr Nkrumah, that we shall never have a strong man who will be able to create the People’s National Party of Imoru Egala, and that, after losing the 2020 election, we will go into hibernation until 2024 – and we will then pick another flagbearer to go and get the same type of results. I wonder whether I should be part of this electoral fraud on the people of Ghana, who are genuinely looking for a way out of poverty.
Perhaps now is the time to heed the advice of one of my saner cousins who advised me when I sent him an election broadcast video that I had made for the CPP. “Ade,” he wrote back, and he was very gentle with me, “why do you not continue your work for the community and give up on flogging this dead horse?”
Time to down tools
It is sad, and therefore my painful duty, to announce that although I remain a Nkrumahist, I am done with the CPP.
I am wearing my regalia for the last time. Tomorrow, I will find a charity shop in Croydon and donate it for a good cause.
My advice to those who run the CPP is that they should organise an orderly winding down of the party, the donation of its intellectual property to the Nkrumah Mausoleum, an agreement not to use the name again, and a long discussion with like-minded people about the need for a new party that will truly represent the people.
Yet I am not done with politics – so, if anyone comes up with a credible enough formula for mobilising people in the coming year and needs an older, wiser but energetic mind to help with the skeleton of a strategy, I will gladly donate my services. For now, however, I will devote more of my time to community work.
Kɛ otee akle gbei ni onyɛɛɛ, okɛ ohe tseee.
December 2020, England
Owula Ade Sawyerr is a writer, social activist and founder partner of Equinox Consulting, which works to develop inner-city and minority communities in Britain. He comments on economic, political and social affairs and is a past chairman of the UK branch of the Convention People’s Party.