In a discussion with some colleagues in the past week, I made a statement that Socialism is African and that Africa is Socialism. In that discussion, I made a case that our African nature naturally would lead us to embrace any socialist group as against capitalist. However, society is dynamic. It appears those who follow Socialism and especially its target base, are the masses, but many of whom are not counted among the elites.
Capitalism must be an ideology that must struggle to gain ground in our continent, however, the reality is that, today, capitalist parties are ruling some countries including Ghana, in Africa. The ultimate in securing power is to win elections the basis upon which ideologues can be materialised.
In that process, any capitalist party must have a percentage of the masses on their side in addition to their unrepentant elite supporters. Socialist parties must lose a chunk of their base to any capitalist party to be able to win power – either by voting for them, or by refusing to show up to vote for their preferred party.
The interplay is the result we witnessed in the recent elections in Ghana. The havoc that was wrecked on the party National Democratic Congress (NDC), a Socialist party, was the fact that their core base refused to entrench their support for the party, allowing the elites to turn out in their numbers to endorse their preference.
The hard lessons that comes are that every party must learn how to take hold of its base. An attempt to please socialists and capitalists would always backfire. The fact is that, no capitalist would ever feel satisfied under a socialist government. Whatever goodies there are that are given any capitalist, he feels there is an opportunity to get more under his preferred government.
In an attempt to satisfy the capitalists, the core base of the party was ignored (not in its entirety), allowing a state of hopelessness to be planted among them. In the end, they saw no reason to vote. Schools, roads, hospitals, CHPS compounds, and a lot more facilities were created in the form of social infrastructure that was to benefit all.
While the socialists would appreciate these, the capitalists see it as work taken from them by government, and would never appreciate that government in any form let alone vote for it. In the same light, as the government was forced to maintain some level of fiscal discipline, its core supporters have been virtually put aside. Government became entrenched in seeking the overall good. The normal ordinary means of survival were cut, making situations a bit more tougher for the ordinary person who would naturally associate with the party because of its appeal to the common person.
In its hard nature, the capitalists saw an opportunity to preach a sermon, a sermon of a better future under a government they had never trusted, and for that matter, the need to shift focus and try the party. In the end, it worked and worked so well.
The capitalist in search for power, must be a bit smart. The capitalist must woo a section of the support of the socialists (the natural African-inclined group) as stated earlier. In the end, that group must feel they were attended to by those they never trusted.
In this regard, the 2017 budget of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) was smart at it. Indeed, irrespective of the outcome of the budget by year end 31st December, 2017, some attempts would have been made to take the hearts of the socialists along with them. A few of the pro-poor interventions announced were enough to portray them as caring than the NDC.
A careful assessment of the document would reveal that there has been over 98 percent focus on the core base of the party while dwelling in the little they offered their non support base for the purpose of chipping into the support of the socialists party, NDC. That is smartness.
On the contrary, the NDC over the years, and especially between 2009 and 2016, had done everything possible to satisfy the desires of the elites while assuming they were satisfying those of their support. In the end, the rich accumulated and continued to complain as though nothing was given them.
The position of the Ghanaian economy was at a point where it would be difficult to meet the huge expenditures and still allow room for the circulation of monies in the pockets of people. The hard part was rather explained better as a deliberate attempt by government to punish the people when they had an opportunity to meet both conditions equally. The issue of opportunity cost was not a product to be sold.
Politics must be based on ideology, no doubt about that as these ideologies present members with some principles to be guided by. However, there appear to be no rules attached to the principles. For that matter, ways and means, as ethical as they are required to be, are adopted to meet the desires of the time. Lies are imported and truth concealed – after all, who would truth benefit? The government or the opposition seeking power? Such are the confrontations as they lead to a deliberate attempt to hide the truth from the people.
He who feels it, they say, knows it. It is a lesson to note, that one can best satisfy his members along satisfying others. Any attempt to focus on satisfying non-members who are in the minority, would delve massive injury on the party. I am quite sure that the result of the 2016 elections have raised serious issues that every serious political party, whether in power or in opposition must pause a moment to reflect on.
It is good to assume a position for all the citizens once power is won, but one can clearly see when good policies are kicked against and when they are embraced looking at the angle such agitations are coming from. That is the perfect calculation the NDC failed to recognise. The few noisy ones led the chart and in the end, they never felt satisfied which left the base of the party equally unsatisfied, hence the outcome we are all living with.
The reorganisation exercise must include the need to reestablish confidence in the group with strong assurance of holding it when the opportunity to govern is given once again. That is the way to go. And this must be done as quickly as possible if any other results are to be expected.