A NEW ‘SOCIALIST PARTY OF GHANA’ IN THE OFFING?
Lang T.K.A. Nubuor
1. Abstract of Proceedings
On this year’s Socialist Forum of Ghana’s (SFG’s) programme in observance of the February 24th, 1966 coup d’état in Ghana, christened Ghana’s Day of Shame, a lecture at the Freedom Centre in Accra on February 20th 2013 opened a week-long of activities. Prominent at the lecture were two of the founding members of the Socialist Forum of Ghana – Comrade Yaw Opoku and Comrade Kwesi Pratt. In quiet attendance was Prof. Akilagpa Sawyerr, a guiding light of the Marxist-Nkrumaist movement in Africa. Other great names associated and involved with the movement, like Comrades Kwasi Adu of CJA fame and Justice Henaku Akufo, were also present on the occasion. Diplomats of fraternal countries graced the event.
Comrade Kyeretwie Opoku, billed to deliver the lecture, rather chaired it since earlier on a family tragedy had compromised his preparation. In his place, Comrade Kwame Mfodwo, who had returned from Australia after a three-decade sojourn there, delivered the lecture. Before he spoke, Comrade Yaw Opoku made some preliminary remarks calling attention to the Marxist basis of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah’s thought and practice. He traced Dr. Nkrumah’s political work and achievements to the application of Marxist dialectics in discerning the dimensions of Africa’s and Ghana’s developmental problems and the required solutions to them. Comrade Kwame Mfodwo then comes in on ‘The State in Ghana and South-East Asia’.
Before question time, Comrade Kyeretwie Opoku, who is also a prominent member of the SFG, made a summary of the deliveries by the two speakers and particularly pointed out that Comrade Kwame Mfodwo’s lecture was silent on the State-type operative in the countries he touched on. After this, the question time turned out in the main to be an occasion for suggestions on the way forward for the Left in Ghanaian politics. Special mention was made of the Left’s apparent lack of influence in the fashioning of state policies. In this respect, the revelation surfaced that the fashioning of state policies resides in the bosom of ministerial technocrats rather than the ministers of state who head them.
This revelation was concluded with the suggestion that the Left should endeavour to lobby the progressive youth to positions at the ministries to also exercise influence on policy formulation. To build up such youth, suggestions stressed the need for the Left to carry its message to the youth through channels of communication that addressed them verbally rather than by way of the written word. The youth, according to this perspective, generally shun the written word: messages could effectively get to them through the cultural media where listening is the main means of information reception. While these, in the main, were not contested, the SFG leadership stressed on the question of organization/party formation.
2. The Preliminary Remarks
At the head of proceedings, Comrade Kwesi Pratt set the ball rolling at the full house of the Freedom Centre with an announcement that a family tragedy having befallen the advertised speaker at the lecture, Comrade Kyeretwie Opoku, a change had been made to replace him with Comrade Kwame Mfodwo. He would rather be the chairman for the occasion. Additionally, Comrade Yaw Opoku would make some preliminary remarks while Comrade Kwame Mfodwo was being awaited. Comrade Kyeretwie then took over and explained the line that his presentation would have followed but for the disorganizing tragedy of a brother’s demise. He then introduced the two speakers while expecting Comrade Mfodwo.
In his preliminary remarks, Comrade Yaw Opoku explained the theoretical principles that informed Dr. Kwame Nkrumah’s intellectual and political life. He emphasized what he called the Marxist scientific socialist principles to be the basis upon which Dr. Nkrumah operated. He was particular about the dialectical principle concerning the inter-connectedness of things universal. He was not impressed with the current CPP’s neglect of Nkrumaism; by which he implicitly meant the Marxist dimension of Dr. Nkrumah’s thought and ideological system. He considered these as preliminary remarks to an issue that continually rendered him sad – the question of Dr. Nkrumah’s Atomic Energy Project and its abandonment.
According to him, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah had been able to acquire from the Soviet Union a vital core for the installation of the Atomic Reactor at Kwabenya in Ghana for industrial purposes. He stated February 24th 1966 to be Ghana’s Day of Shame for the very reason that at a time when no African country had access to such a priced facility the military regime of Major General E.K. Kotoka and General A.A. Afrifa, being advised by Dr. Kofi Abrefa Busia and others of the Danquah-Busia tradition, surrendered that device to the United States of America as a gift. The Americans were then ignorant of the device’s technological know-how. The betrayers of Ghana and Africa just dashed out the device for US knowledge gain.
Nothing pained Comrade Yaw Opoku more than the subsequent sharing among the political elite in Ghana of portions of the over 4,000 acre land that Dr. Nkrumah acquired for the Project. While ministers of state grabbed portions of the land to build their private houses on, other portions were given to institutions like the Ghana Fire Service for their own development. And one minister has built his house just 200 metres away from the site of the reactor! As at now, over 2,000 acres of the land have been taken away. In collaboration with the United States, Ghana’s political elite have denied Africa of this very important source of energy for its industrialization. This, Comrade Yaw Opoku repeated, represents the Shame.
This exposition on the betrayal of the best interests of Ghana and Africa by the neo-colonial political elite through the established neo-colonial state in Ghana was followed by Comrade Kwame Mfodwo’s lecture on ‘The State in Ghana and South-East Asia’. The essence of Comrade Mfodwo’s lecture could be stated as the employment of the State in South-East Asia to wrestle development advantages from its relations with the West while in Ghana the role of the State has been taken over by Christian fundamentalism in individual interests. He illustrated how the military in South-East Asia, through the State, financed companies like Samsung, Hyundai, etc. and insisted that they paid back after reaching assigned export targets.
The hall rocked with laughter when Comrade Mfodwo added that failure to meet the said targets invited not only the withdrawal of further financial support and repayment of the previous loans but also imprisonment. He stated that in respect of sanitation the magic wand was corporal punishment. He explained that these measures appeared to emanate from the military culture of discipline that insisted on meeting targets. He added quickly that he was not recommending those actions for application in Ghana but that he was only narrating what was done by the State in South-East Asia. This brought him to the situation in Ghana where he expressed surprise at the state of affairs upon his return recently after decades.
Comrade Mfodwo observed that the fact that currently many Ghanaians he met explained situations from the Christian pastor’s point of view and preferred taking their problems to the clergy meant the Church’s assumption of the role of the State. This, to him, implied that the Church must be made to play its role in a way that this author unfortunately could not determine since the speaker had moved from the microphone. Whatever he had said made those in front who heard him laugh out loud. Comrade Mfodwo later told this author after the session that at present he was more concerned with the pastors and, in fact, he had a lot to say from face-to-face encounters with persons like Bishop Dag Heward-Mills to pastoral billboards.
3. Questions Time
Comrade Kyeretwie Opoku then summed up the views of the two speakers and invited questions from the floor. There were about eight persons who took to the microphone. One of them, the first, was disturbed by the current situation whereby there were many on the Left with brilliant ideas but who were not influencing the policy direction of the State. He called for the massing up of such individuals in an organization to make an impact in the manner of organizations like Imani who were represented at State forums. His militant posture reflected the intensity of his passion for advance in Left wing politics. His position received applause from the audience. The next two contributors were similarly concerned but it was the second of them who appeared to have been taken more seriously.
That third contributor, a civil servant (retired?), spoke from the position of his experience in the ministries. He explained that contrary to the received version the ministers who headed the ministries were for the most part ignorant of the work therein. Signally, he stated that it was not their party government’s policy or programme that determined the direction of affairs at their respective ministries and therefore the State. Policy directions were essentially determined by the permanent high officials of the ministries. These high officials prepared the speeches of the ministers who only went to read them out to the public or the nation. For him, therefore, what amounts to capturing such positions through lobbying was a needed strategy for assuming the power to determine the direction of State policy.
In his opinion, the progressive youth must be virtually smuggled into the ministerial institutions of State to give the Left control over the determination of State policies. His faith in the powerlessness of political appointees who head the ministries was deep. Dr. David Pessy, a member of the SFG, later frowned on this suggestion and made light of it. Before that, Comrade Kwesi Pratt came in to stress the need for an organization. He briefly traced the efforts of four comrades over a decade ago leading to the current state of the Socialist Forum of Ghana and the Freedom Centre as well as the publication of nine books and pamphlets and the impending opening of the Freedom Bookshop within a few days.
This, he stated, nonetheless, was not sufficient. Efforts to run a study group have also not received the needed support from comrades who could lead discussions. He was convinced in the propriety of forming an organization of the Left. This was later followed with a call from Comrade Yaw Opoku for the formation of a political party. He called it the Socialist Party of Ghana. He did not give details of how the party would be formed. He believed, however, that the party must be formed this year, 2013. Given his view that the CPP had abandoned Nkrumaism, it appeared that the proposed Socialist Party of Ghana would be an independent political party guided by the tenets and principles of Marxism-Nkrumaism.
The immediate impression at the opening lecture of the Ghana Day of Shame programme is a general dissatisfaction of those in attendance with the neo-colonial State and the state of the Left whereby apparent individualistic efforts hold sway. The need for the organizations and individuals to constitute themselves into a single organization is transparently clear to all. What does not appear clear is whether the projected party is intended to operate within the constitutional framework of the Ghanaian neo-colony. But this is to pretend not to see what is obvious. For, the immediate observation is a scene of well-meaning persons in a general desire to replace the personnel of the neo-colonial state with the latter sustained.
The stage was set in the lecture where, until the chairman compelled the speaker to clarify his position to the contrary, Comrade Kwame Mfodwo operated with an undefined State. In the process, our civil servant veteran took the lead and elaborated a scheme to get the progressive youth infiltrate the governmental machinery of the neo-colony to assume the perceived real seat of State power. Dr. Pessy described the act as ‘smuggling’, to the utmost discomfiture of our veteran. The scheme did not question the legitimacy of a clearly rotten State which is beyond reform or repair. That night an interview with the heads of the Board and Management of the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital on Metro TV lay bear the rottenness.
The reality of the African neo-colony, like that of Ghana, is such that however progressive an organization or individual might be, once they assume control over the neo-colonial State they find nothing but a total state of rottenness that cannot be redeemed but fit only for Kokompe (scrap dealers). The ‘smuggling’ scheme adumbrated here represents an innocuous scheme for a civilian kind of coup d’état. Hence, the similarity between what Comrade Mfodwo rendered of the South-East Asian situation and the ‘smuggling’ scheme. In both categories those who really exercise power are not accountable to the people. But a ‘Socialist State’ without a decisive People’s Power structure could be devastating indeed.
That is why we need a clearer picture of the projected Socialist Party of Ghana. Is it projected to operate within the constitutional framework of the neo-colonial State? If the answer is positive then another round of fruitless takeover of the neo-colonial State can very well be anticipated. Is it projected to operate essentially outside the neo-colonial framework in direct confrontation with it? Certainly, this is the preferred choice. But the scope of the required organizational framework for such an enterprise goes beyond the neo-colony. It is clear that as portrayed by Dr. Kwame Nkrumah that organizational framework embraces the entire continent. For, victory in a single neo-colony unconnected with others is a still-born.
We might still ask: Is it projected within the neo-colonial legal framework but with ambitions beyond capturing neo-colonial State power? Surely, this is the pragmatic step to take. In this direction, in accordance with the principles of Marxism-Nkrumaism as Dr. Kwame Nkrumah develops them in his Class Struggle in Africa and Handbook of Revolutionary Warfare, both legal and illegal means must be employed to finally effect the replacement of all neo-colonial States in Africa. Certainly, to struggle in parliament for a constitutional dismantling of the neo-colonial State and replace it with a People’s State cannot be an illegal act. But such acts of negotiation as the sole method of struggle have long declared themselves anachronistic.
Let all genuine progressive organizations and individuals operating under the Marxist-Nkrumaist banner of Revolutionary Pan-Africanism reflect over these issues before taking the next step. For, in the final analysis our objective is the crystallization of the All-Africa People’s Revolutionary Party and its supportive State organs of the new Africa in prosperity under the People’s Republican State of Africa. All these in the fulfilment of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah’s dream of a truly liberated socialist united Africa. Before then, let us reflect and reconsider the February 24th 1966 act of betrayal as AFRICA’S DAY OF SHAME but not just GHANA’S DAY OF SHAME. For, since then Africa has never been the same – it is dislocated.
The Struggle is our Struggle!
Forward ever, Backward never.
Revolution or Death!
February 21, 2013