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A Caucus In A Political Party:Hon Alhassan Suhuyini Writes


Like many, I was gobsmacked on Friday night when the results of our secret ballots on ministers were revealed. I couldn’t sleep the whole night after I got home. It felt like a general election defeat, and my bones at its joints ached as if they were falling apart.

After two days, I’m now angry!

Not angry at those who betrayed everyone, including themselves, but at those of us swearing our innocence whilst cursing and witch hunting others and those making us all, the guilty and innocent, do that. I know the most popular and politically correct thing to do now is to condemn, huff and puff, but anyone who knows me well enough knows, I’m not one to mostly give in to what is popular or politically correct.

I prefer to be on the side of what I deem fair and, in all instances, CORRECT!

No wonder one of the bases for some to suspect or even conclude that I’m among the renegades is because I criticized the WAY, including timing (emphasis mine), our parliamentary leadership was reshuffled. I still think it could have been done better, but my loyalty to our new leaders is absolute and indivisible.

That is why when the directive to reject the nominees was issued, as a member of the Appointment Committee, I asked these nominees the most uncomfortable and sometimes embarrassing questions. I joined our NDC side of the committee to recommend that all nominees be rejected at the plenary.

Even on the floor, at least, on the Supreme Court nominees, I was one of our debaters, giving reasons and calling on the house to reject the nominations.

I have therefore decided that anyone in NDC who requires me to prove my integrity is not worth it and, so, even if I have evidence of how I voted, I will not bother to prove my innocence to such a person. It is enough indictment that adults like us can’t seek to do what is right when we are not recorded or watched. I always used to sign off radio with the words: “Don’t do what you will not like your neighbours to find out”.

I understand that we are a community that prefers general conversations to having difficult ones. In times like this, it is easy to condemn, huff, puff, and curse, and it is risky to try to understand why it happened and how it could have been avoided.

So before I proceed further, let me say that I know who I am, so I don’t care if I’m held responsible for even all the thirty-two votes for Bryan Acheampong, 19 votes for K.T. Hammond and about 12 votes for Asabee etc.

However, the following facts ought to be known and examined dispassionately:

1. The Minority Caucus that probably voted en bloc to get a Speaker elected from among us, first took the decision together as a caucus to propose a name for Speaker, before we brought the party and former president along. This provided the caucus with immense encouragement and guidance.

2. The same Minority Caucus that lost the Hawa Koomson, Kojo Opong Nkrumah, etc, ministerial nominees vote, faltered when members on the Appointment Committee, in recommending nominees for the plenary to reject, left out the security ministers.

The party grassroots and leadership were unhappy that we did and demanded that we should amend our recommendations to include the security ministers. The leadership of the caucus thought it was too late to do so and pleaded with party leadership to allow the caucus to focus and vote on those already recommended, even though they acknowledged that they should have included the security ministers in their initial recommendations, especially because some of us on the Appointment Committee suggested it but were out-voted. That compromise between caucus leadership and party leadership was not reached before the vote was called and, in that confusion, we lost embarrassingly.

3. Again, when the Minority Caucus took a decision together to oppose E-Levy and briefed the party, the party gave its support, and all 136/7 members were present and united in opposition to the E-Levy. The 1st Deputy Speaker’s seat was seized, and some majority MPs got injured when the vote on the E-Levy was first called, and we stood firm as a caucus to oppose it.

Three months later, the Supreme Court gave a curious ruling on our resistance mounted against the majority side. So when the E-Levy vote was called again, whether deliberate or a miscalculation, it was suggested by some lawyers amongst us, and supported by some senior members, to test the ruling of the Supreme Court by walking out in order to deny the majority the needed quorum to take the decision. I was one of the few against that walkout because I insisted to some of the lawyers and senior colleagues that the optics didn’t seem right. Alas, I was proven right, though I have never until now claimed vindication.

The media thought our walkout was contrived, and the majority went ahead and passed the E-levy. Some of our colleagues who gave the advice or supported it, perhaps to save face or to genuinely test the Supreme Court reasoning, went to court, and I believe the case is yet to even be called.

4. As a caucus, we decided among ourselves again to oppose the increase in VAT. We again briefed the party and elders, and they gave us their blessing. When the vote was called, we lost it by one vote because one of us, on health grounds, was abroad, but all others were present and stood to be counted.

5. On this occasion, the decision to vote against the ministerial nominations was first heard by many MPs in the media when the party issued the three-line whip. An Appointment Committee member, like me, also heard it in the media. I recall being asked by a journalist at the time if the party press release meant we would not be vetting the nominees. I didn’t have an appropriate response because I honestly did not know at the time.

Later, some of us were informed that it was a decision taken by the party Political Committee and, yet again, some in caucus leadership also mentioned to some colleagues that it wasn’t really a Political Committee decision but a decision by one of our senior colleagues which the Political Committee adopted.

As a caucus, for some reason, I don’t recall that a meeting was ever called for us (MPs) and our caucus leaders to deliberate on how to execute the task. The last caucus meeting was with our presumptive flag-bearer (JM) and party leaders and elders for us to be reminded to ‘Save our Democracy’. No contribution was invited from the caucus members, and no member also requested to speak. Without any means or attempt to verify, we all left to Parliament believing that we were on the same page.

Therefore, in the case of three votes in 1, 3 & 4, above, we won one but lost two. 3 was lost on a technicality which is difficult to blame on one person or group of people, unless we can show that those who gave the advice to walkout and those who supported that advice did so deliberately knowing it was going to cost us. 4 was lost on health grounds unless again we can show that the absentee MP did so deliberately.

However, based on my experience during voting in 2 and 5 above, which we lost embarrassingly, the synergy between the party leadership and the caucus wasn’t perfect in both cases. So, instead of seeking to fix what makes it possible for traitors/witches to thrive on, we are focusing on the symptoms because that’s easy. That requires only some people, if they have ever disagreed with us or are not our buddies or for other reasons, to be put on the spotlight, declared guilty until proven innocent and the specks in their eyes plucked.

Andrew Roberts reminds us that, although the most common understanding of “leadership “ connotes inherent goodness, leadership is in fact completely morally neutral, a protean force of terrifying power that we must strive to orient towards moral ends.

I stand to be counted for loyalty and integrity. Enemies are not God!!!

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