The report of the Professor Kwesi Botchwey Committee – which was set up to investigate why the National Democratic Congress (NDC) embarrassingly lost the December 7, 2016 general election – has indicated that the electorate considered the campaign of then ruling NDC offensive.
“The NDC campaign language was generally considered unduly combative and offensive,” page 21 of the 65-page Executive Summary of the 455-page report – which the NDC has kept like a state secret – revealed.
According to the report, the campaign to get then sitting President John Mahama re-elected was also ‘uncoordinated,’ stating that campaign cash found its way into people’s pockets.
The report suggests that party organs were of the strong believe that campaign money was diverted.
Campaign Structure Blamed
The report of the 13-member committee revealed that in the course of their work, they were inundated with complaints that the national campaign team, which was coordinated by the party’s National Organizer, did not work with a strategy document the Strategy Campaign Team had prepared.
“The new campaign structure was blamed for closing off institutional spaces that would have allowed integration of knowledgeable and experienced party executives into the campaign at all levels,” it recorded on Page 21.
In effect, the committee’s report is saying that some of the elected national officers of the NDC were ignored in the whole campaign that resulted in the sitting president garnering only 44.4% of the total valid votes cast nationwide – the worst showing of the NDC since its formation.
According to the report, there was “endless launch of regional and constituency campaigns” which reportedly “ignored the more capillary approach recommended which involved town hall meetings, meeting of small groups, midnight and dawn visitations by the president and all candidates, participation in social events at the grassroots level.”
“Much of the campaign that unfolded, we were told, did not follow these recommendations as the party ended up being accused of conducting an extravagant campaign,” the report recounted, adding, “The mounting of huge billboards, it was alleged, offended many voters and reinforced NPP accusations that these were funded from stolen public monies.”
The report indicates that the establishment of the National Campaign Committee (NCC) in May 2016 and inauguration of the members were problematic, saying, “In the view of many party members, its establishment occurred much too late for effective campaigning, given that information in the public domain already suggested a possible voting date of November 7.”
It claims, “There were challenges relating to the timing, structure, composition and resourcing. The NCC also formed Regional Campaign Task Forces (RCTFs) which were headed by regional campaign coordinators. Some of these coordinators did not enjoy total support from their respective regional executives, especially deputies, at both the national and regional levels.”
According to the committee, the attempt to find out why the NCC was ‘marginalized’ proved futile because nobody in the party could explain it to them.
“The committee heard a number of complaints from some members of the NCC about their marginalization in matters of resource mobilization, channeling and distribution. We accordingly sought but were unable to obtain clarification on the mandate of the NCC as formed in order to know whether it included these functions in the first place, and therefore, whether these complaints were warranted. We received none.”
The committee heard that the NCC “hardly met as a collective entity and operated with no formal developed campaign blueprint. With such an uncoordinated campaign approach, the NCC virtually lost its central role in the direction of the party’s campaign agenda.”
It however, said, “As a committee we were unable to pass judgement on the superior merit of all aspects of these recommendations, save to say that there was obviously some tension between how the party thought that the campaign should be conducted and how it ended up being actually conducted.”
The report says there were complaints of the party’s structures being sidelined in the distribution of campaign resources.
Some members of the NCC said they knew nothing about how campaign funds and logistics were sourced and distributed, nor about amounts of money and quantities of items distributed.
“This hampered the effectiveness of the NCC and undermined the integrity of the entire resources, also heightened tension among party executives at all levels and created mistrust and apathy amongst the rank and file of the party across board.”
According to the report, there were suggestions that “the bypassing of the party structures and of party executives was itself due to past experience of resource misuse and diversion by these structures. In the event, some resources probably ended up being diverted and not reaching the intended beneficiaries.”
By William Yaw Owusu