Kwame Nkrumah and One-Party State
Date: Sunday, October 29 @ 15:33:12 UTC
By Nii Ardey Otoo
October 29, 2006
It is often said by some African intellectuals, that Kwame Nkrumah had his faults, as every human being and leader has. This statement is used to prepare the ground to criticize Kwame Nkrumah on policies he and the Convention's People's Party (CPP) introduced which his critics are not comfortable with. Unlike many heads of state, Nkrumah wrote more than twelve books in which he defended and explained his policies. This is why it is important for any intellectual who criticizes him to not only refute whatever policy they disagree with but also to show the alternative for future generations to learn from.
Among the so-called mistakes attributed to Nkrumah was the declaration of Ghana as a one-party state. According to imperialist propaganda, Nkrumah declared Ghana a one-party state because he wanted to rule Ghana without opposition. This cheap imperialist propaganda has gained credence from the pronouncements of some African intellectuals with neo-colonial leanings. Foremost among them is Professor Ali Mazrui of the State University of New York at Binghamton, USA. He is one who sees the multi-party system as something ordained by God.
The truth about electoral history in Ghana is that from 1951 until Nkrumah was overthrown by the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Nkrumah and the CPP won every election held by overwhelming majorities. Even when the British colonialists jailed Nkrumah for three years, for publishing a so-called seditious article in the Cape Coast Daily Mail, in the general elections conducted by the British, the CPP won the overwhelming majority of the votes. In the election, Nkrumah received the largest individual poll ever recorded in the history of Ghana: 22,780 votes out of a possible 23,122. This is because Nkrumah and the CPP chose the people first, while the opposition chose themselves first, before the people.
The declaration of one-party state by Nkrumah was not at all for any selfish reasons, as the imperialist propaganda wants us to believe. According to Nkrumah, the multi-party system is divisive and a newly independent state needs the energy and enthusiasm of all the people to move forward in all aspects of development. In a speech to the Indian Council on World Affairs, December 26, 1958, Nkrumah said "We, in Africa, will evolve forms of government, rather different from the traditional Western pattern, but no less democratic in their protection of the individual and his inalienable rights." In Nkrumah's book Africa Must Unite, he wrote, "If the will of the people is democratically expressed in an overwhelming majority for the governing party, and thereby creates a weakening of the accepted two party system, the government is obliged to respect the will of the people so expressed. We have no right to divide our mandate in defiance of the popular will of the people."
Nkrumah also wrote in Consciencism, "A people's parliamentary democracy, with a one-party system, is better able to express and satisfy the common aspirations of a nation as a whole, than a multi-party parliamentary system, which is in fact only a ruse for perpetuating and covering up the inherent struggle between the 'haves' and the 'have-nots'."
In a speech to the National Assembly on 1st February 1966, twenty-three days before he was overthrown, Nkrumah warned with great alarm, "A one-party system of government is an effective and safe instrument only when it operates in a socialist society. In other words, it must be a political expression of the will of the masses working for the ultimate good and welfare of the people as a whole. On the other hand, a one-party system of government in a neo-colonial client state, subject to external pressures and control, can quickly develop into the most dangerous form of tyranny, despotism, and oppression. It can become, in the hands of a few privileged rascally-minded and selfish individuals in a neo-colonialist state, a weapon and a tool for suppressing the legitimate aspirations of the people in the interest of foreign powers, and their agents. I repeat that a one-party state can only function for the good of the people within the framework of a socialist state or in a developing state with a socialist programme. The government governs through the people, and not through the class cleavages and interests. In other words, the basis of government is the will of the people."
Kwame Nkrumah lived, schooled, and worked in both the USA and Britain. He studied the political systems of both nations. He discovered that both the Republican and the Democratic parties in the USA represented the interest of the rich. Likewise, the Conservative and the Labor parties in Britain also represented the interest of the rich in their society.
In Class Struggle In Africa, Nkrumah wrote, "Every form of political power, whether parliamentary, multi-party, one-party, or an open military dictatorship, reflects the interest of a certain class or classes in society. In a socialist state, the government represents the workers and peasants. In a capitalist state, the government represents the exploitative class. The state then, is the expression of the domination of one class over other classes."
Through subversion, lies, corruption, the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and CIA pressures of all kinds, the enemies of African progress and political unification have influenced most African politicians and intellectuals by prescribing the multi-party system as the only form of political governance. Even though the effects of multi-party system have been disastrous everywhere in the developing world, any leader with vision and armed with an alternative form of governance, would be overthrown by the CIA. And that is what happened to Nkrumah.
Presently it is happening to Presidents Chavez of Venezuela, and Mugabe of Zimbabwe. Proper scrutiny into world political history, will lead one to discover that in the 20th century, great political strides were achieved with one-party socialist systems as forms of governance. This is what Nkrumah refers to as 'scientific socialism'. The former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) used a one-party socialist system to develop their country from a backward semi-feudal society, to a world super power in less than 60 years. It was on par with most of the advanced developed countries of the world, until Mikhail Gorbachev betrayed the socialist system of the USSR.
The People's Republic of China also used a one-party socialist-system to build their country from a peasant economy, to a great regional super power. It is now challenging the world's only super power in all aspects of science, technology, and business - this came about in less than 60 years. Vietnam also used a one-party socialist system to militarily defeat both French colonialism and USA neo-colonialism in the 20th century. And again, Cuba used a one-party socialist system to build their nation despite the embargo imposed by USA and her allies. Today, Cuban medical doctors are all over Africa and developing countries serving humanity.
In 1975, when 'Apartheid South Africa' invaded Angola from the South, and UNITA, a terrorist organization backed by the USA also invaded from the North, in order to overthrow the MPLA socialist government, Cuba sent 30,000 troops to repel both UNITA and the racist apartheid forces. Henry Kissinger, then US Secretary of State, was going from one African capital to another trying to have African leaders condemn President Fidel Castro, but they refused. Today, Cuba is the only free territory in the western hemisphere with a genuine, independent, self-reliant, economic system. It is not guided by capitalism, and it is worth studying, understanding, and emulating.
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea), a small country half the size of Ghana, also used a one-party system of governance to develop from a feudal peasant economy to a highly developed industrialized society. Again, this was done in less than sixty years. In 1973, the government abolished all forms of direct and indirect taxation, demonstrating its economic self-reliance. Today, CIA propaganda tells us that the people of North Korea are facing massive starvation. The present hardship in the country is due to years of sanctions imposed by the US and its capitalist allies. Despite the sanctions and the US efforts at isolating the country, North Korea has been able to develop nuclear technology to the point of recently testing a nuclear weapon. It is clear that the true reason capitalist states impose sanctions is to reduce the speed of socialist development.
Kwame Nkrumah also used a one-party socialist system to lead the people of Ghana into nation building. In only nine years, Nkrumah and the CPP built the most modern road network in Ghana, including the Accra-Tema Motorway. Since his overthrow, other governments have not added even a kilometer. Takoradi Harbour was extended and the Tema Harbour, the largest artificial harbour in Africa, was built from scratch. The Akosombo hydroelectric project was also constructed under Nkrumah and the CPP government. Dr. K.A. Busia, then leader of the opposition, described the hydroelectric project as a "communist inspired prestige undertaking." This dam created the Volta Lake and it is the primary source of Ghana's electricity even today - forty years later. Other infrastructure built under Nkrumah and the CPP provided pipe-born water, housing, schools and hospitals. Telecommunications and road networks were extended to rural areas of Ghana.
In education, Nkrumah and the CPP achieved more in nine years, than the British did in 100 years of colonial rule: and more than all the successive governments after Nkrumah and CPP, be it military or civilian. There was free and compulsory education. Free education was provided from primary school to the university level. In addition, textbooks were supplied free to all pupils in primary, middle, and secondary schools. Night schools for adults, males and females, were created as part of the mass literacy campaign. The state farm corporation developed a 20-square mile rubber plantation. Soon after Nkrumah's overthrow, this valuable plantation was given to the Firestone Rubber Company of the USA. Even the prison system was improved under Nkrumah and the CPP government. Nkrumah and the CPP built the most humane prison in Ghana, Nsawam Prison. This is the only prison in Ghana that has recreational facilities, a church, a mosque, and a library. Today, it is overcrowded and antiquated, and as in so many other sectors of society, all successive governments after Nkrumah have turned a blind eye to the prison situation in the country. In short, Kwame Nkrumah laid the foundations for Ghana's development in every sector of the country.
The time has come for African students, intellectuals, and politicians, to stop analyzing Nkrumah through CIA propaganda. They must assess him based on his political and developmental programmes, and on his contributions to the political and economic advancement of Africa. Professor Ali Mazrui, one of the leading neo-colonialist intellectuals, still analyzes Nkrumah through CIA propaganda. In the 2002 Aggrey-Frazer-Guggisberg Memorial Lectures he delivered at the University of Ghana on March 11-13, he said so many backward things about Nkrumah, one student in the audience was compelled to ask, "Is this man a CIA agent or on the CIA payroll?" Like a good servant, the professor sang his master's favorite tune. Ali Mazuri said, "Kwame Nkrumah was one of Africa's greatest sons, but he was not one of Ghana's greatest servants." Rubbish! Kwame Nkrumah served Ghana so much, he did not even get time to build a one-bedroom house for himself.
Nkrumah remains Ghana's greatest selfless servant. On the one-party system, Ali Mazrui said, "Nkrumah's policy of trying to create one Ghana by abolishing separate parties was usurpation."
Ali Mazrui must be informed that the introduction of one-party state in Ghana was an act of Parliament. It was not a decision implemented by Nkrumah alone. In 1962, U. Thant, then Secretary General of United Nations, summed up the problem, which Ali Mazrui still can't comprehend. U. Thant said, "It is a mistake to assume that the political institutions of the newly independent states will be of the same type as those prevailing in Britain, or that there will necessarily be two main parties competing against each other for the votes of the people. The notion that democracy requires the existence of an organized opposition to the government of the day is not valid. Democracy requires only freedom for opposition, not necessarily its organized existence."
The multi-party system does not by definition mean democracy. Ali Mazrui espoused CIA propaganda by saying that, "The Nkrumah regime was sometimes also guilty of ethnic profiling, but perhaps never as blatantly." This is a blatant lie! It was the CPP government which introduced the Avoidance of Discrimination Bill to deal with the control of political parties based on tribal or religious affiliations. Its full title was "An Act to Prohibit Organizations Using or Engaging In Racial or Religious Propaganda to The Detriment of Any Other Groups in the Community." As far back as 1967, Kwame Nkrumah criticized articles written by Ali Mazrui. Nkrumah said, "Ali Mazrui is one of the Black neo-colonial intellectuals who writes what the white man wants to hear. His thinking is still being shaped by colonialism, and its influences. Actually, he is incapable of looking forward. He doesn't seem to comprehend the future and its potentialities. In short, he still has the colonial mentality."
One imperialist strategy in African politics is to brainwash us into believing that unless our constitution is based on an imitation of the Western Parliamentary system, we can't engage in politics and democracy. This notion must be turned upside down. We must make our intellectuals rid themselves from this colonial mentality. Kwame Nkrumah devoted his life's energy for Africa's political freedom and unification. His achievements are there for all to see. Militants the world over admire how he set colonialism ablaze in Africa. Nkrumah has shown us the way and we must walk it with confidence.
Colonial powers never educate their victims (those they called subjects) on how to win their freedom. But Kwame Nkrumah taught us how to do it. 'Free market', 'privatization', 'NEPAD', 'Structural Adjustment Program', 'Highly Indebted Poor Country', 'globalization', and 'Millennium Challenge Accounts' are all imperialist attempts to deceive Africans and to poison our minds to make us participate in our own exploitation. Nkrumah said, "There are only two ways of development open to an independent African state. Either it must remain under imperialist domination via capitalism and neo-colonialism, or it must pursue a socialist path by adopting the principles of scientific socialism."
The choice is for us to make. Either we chose the freedom fighters path, or we follow the CIA Gospel, as preached by Ali Mazrui.