Jerry Rawlings and President Mills

First was his command to the NDC not to use his name or image in that party’s campaign. Then came the Citi FM hint, magnified later on other networks, that the Rawlingses had taken steps towards the formation of a political party. I still do not think it is true. Why? Because that party will make no significant waves in the next election, and the Rawlings I have come to know is too smart not to know that. In the first place, it would be a wrong political move, the wrongest political move ever made by Jerry John Rawlings since May 25, 1978.

If he maintains his resolve not to be associated with the NDC campaign, then the only way the name Rawlings will continue to mean anything to anybody beyond a historical footnote after December 2012 is if NDC loses at the polls. A win for the NDC, and for that matter Candidate John Evans Fiifi Atta Mills in the 2012 polls will be the end of the Rawlings legacy in Ghanaian politics. He will be mentioned; yes but it will always be in parenthesis. The effect of a Rawlings loss at the polls (that is an NDC win without Rawlings) is that all those “children” who, in secondary school, used to adore Rawlings, who used to live in dread of his very shadow when they first entered the NDC party, and who are now in positions of power as Deputy Ministers and Ministers, will visit upon him a double portion of what they did to and said about him in the run-up to Sunyani 2011.

They will gleefully fling the once almighty and colourful vote-catcher not into a dustbin but a full blown stinking hearth, a borla, with many vultures flying overhead. A few of them will greet him, but for the first time in their lives, they will dare to exchange eyeballs with him- which is un-African. (In Africa, a young person does not dare look an elder in the eye in any exchange, in the same way as a woman does not look her husband or suitor in the eye – except to dare him in an antagonistic gesture or to openly show disrespect toward him).

If Atta Mills lost, when Rawlings campaigned for him in 2000, Atta Mills can win without Rawlings 12 years on. Remember that many of those who voted against Mills in 2000 were people who feared that Mills would only be reigning while Rawlings ruled.  Did you hear why non-NDC Ghanaians applauded Mills’s victory over Konadu in Sunyani? Because they said he was the first man, ever, to put Rawlings in his place. 

The big question is: will Volta Region vote for an NDC without Rawlings? Will the region vote skirt and blouse- i.e. for their darling NDC MPs and someone else for President? It’s a million cedi question.

What does all this have to do with Nana Akuffo Addo?

The Atta Mills type of personality is the “dead goat” type. Beyond a certain threshold, this type decides that it does not fear the butcher’s knife. Alive, however, Atta Mills is no “goat” at all. He is a “sheep”. If you ever attempted sending a goat to the slaughter, you have an idea what I mean. The goat’s vow (from birth) is that before it dies, it will be king, to be carried on the shoulders of brawny  beings, to the slaughter chamber; that it wouldn’t be dragged, and it has enough brake power to carry out its vow.

Not the sheep! It is led to the slaughter without as much as a whimper. Ever seen a number of sheep crossing the street at the approach of a speeding car? They make no effort to save themselves; indeed, the wife and children all follow the man to death. At the slaughter, the sheep is a picture of helplessness and pity. But therein its strength lies: the ability to win sympathy.

I know what Shakespeare has said, that when misfortune strikes, it comes in battalions. Nonetheless, when, for the first time, a Ghanaian President finds himself hounded by so many “enemies within” as brutally and as persistently as “enemies without”, when ministers of state keep failing, when party financiers drag the party’s name into the gutter, and when, on a daily basis something goes wrong, Professor (Bishop) Mbiti will tell you that the typical African will attempt to find out what is wrong. But my “sheep personality” theory says that this is where any Atta Mills’ opponent or rival or enemy will have to be careful because that is where he draws strength (from sympathy). 

If any one person is canvassing sympathy for Atta Mills, it is Rawlings. The former president kicked the sitting President too hard when the sheep was up on its feet and continued to kick even when it was down- but not out. Initially serious minded people began to wonder if it was true (as JJ claimed), that the Mills government “lost” the 2012 elections eight months into office. Midway they realised that the search for answers was not worth the effort. That is when Mrs Rawlings decided to contest the NDC flagbearer-ship race. The impact of this revelation hit everybody with the impact of a sledgehammer: so all the hot words by Rawlings were after all, meant to unseat the current President so his wife could become NDC’s flagbearer!

Plus, people are also beginning to wonder if Rawlings qualifies to paint anybody or any other Ghanaian government with the brush of corruption.

Injustice? Delayed justice? Inability to haul certain persons before the law courts? Why should Rawlings be using these against any government when, in 1999, just before he handed over the reins of government, he was everywhere blaming democracy for slowing down his government’s resolve to deal with criminal elements? The courts were too slow, he grumbled. One of these speeches was at the ceremony at Burma Camp when he addressed military officers; the same ceremony where his daughter flew an Airforce plane.

Corruption? For heaven’s sake, I am not defending Mills’s track record, but under whose government did the Quality Grains scandal occur? In whose regime did the Norwegian cement company pay bribes to a Ghanaian government party in power? Will the Junior Jesus we knew in 1979 have spared the wife of either General Akuffo or Mr Acheampong if it had even been whispered that in the name of the state, they had acquired state factories for their NGOs?

The people who are looking at the “sheep” being led to the slaughter are also the same people who see Atta Mills as God-fearing and humble. If they seem a little confused, it is because they are wondering why God is allowing these endless battalions of misfortune in the political life of a child who has proclaimed him “President of Ghana”. They know God (or think they do) and are asking themselves if God is preparing the grounds for a big surprise (a Mills win), a shockwave that will keep everybody wondering how.

Don’t forget, He is a sovereign God. In His sovereign will, He can also decide that for the first time in Ghana, He wants a one-term president; that He wants to give Akuffo Addo a chance. Remember, He is God. He does what pleases him. In the exercise of that sovereign will, He allows the Eyademas, the Mobutus and Abachas, the Iddi Amins, the Hitlers and Musolinis a lo-o-o-ng stay in office. Read the Book of Job. Who are you to question the wisdom of God?

Again, what does all this have to do with Nana Addo?

Simple: In a Ghanaian society where people will not kick their sworn foe when he/she is already down, the Mills character is not out when it is down. If you are a campaign planner or political strategist, you know that you don’t gloat over the misfortunes of the “sheep” types; that you don’t count your chickens just before you saw eggs…

Is the NPP ready for a Rawlings change of mind?

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