The just-ended National Delegates Congress of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), held at the Fantasy Dome of the International Trade Fair Centre in Accra, did not come with any fisticuffs, contrary to the expectations of many political observers.
For the first time in the history of the party, the close to 10,000 delegates that formed the party’s Electoral College, successfully cast their votes to elect a new pack of national delegates to run the affairs of NDC for the next four years.
By and large, things went on without any notable violence. The college was by no means the largest grassroots-based collection ever put up in the Fourth Republic, and the party must be commended for the effort to deepen internal democracy. Unfortunately, this seems to be the end of the pluses associated with the event.
Even though the planning seemed good on paper, the organization of the event has nothing to write home about as it appeared the leadership had either failed to foresee any problem with packing such a large number of people in one place for four days, or they deliberately overlooked the challenges.
The human management too was simply pathetic. For two nights delegates were left to their fate as thousands of them slept on the floor, street corners and in cars, while waiting to cast their votes. Some women and children, who spoke to the media, complained of non-availability of washrooms for clean-up and bathing.
Even after casting their votes, delegates were not treated as humanly as they should have been. It was common to hear announcements through the public address system to the effect that “Delegates from so and so constituency, your car is ready. If you don’t hurry up, the driver will leave you behind”.
Inside the Fantasy Dome proper, the heat was chocking, sickening and terrible, while sanitation, both inside and outside the dome was stomach-churning. For the entire congress period, the place was engulfed with serious filth and dust; and as the marathon process dragged on, it was also common to see that even security officers slept off due to tiredness.
The catalogue of negatives associated with the event could go on and on, but to be honest to our readers, the NDC is not the only party guilty of mishandling of delegates and supporters at their congresses.
At the New Patriotic Party’s (NPP’s) last National Delegates Conference at the Koforidua Technical University, the picture was not too different. Even though the party hosted its delegates in the dormitories of some second-cycle institutions in the eastern regional capital, delegates were also left to their fate for several hours on end as they awaited the declaration of results, while many of the party leaders retreated to their hotel rooms.
From the above, THE PUBLISHER is tempted to believe that the major political parties in the country deliberately take their delegates for a ride. Just as they do to the electorates after every general election, they also use delegates as ‘grease’ to oil their election machinery, only to dump them again after their votes had been accessed.
The paper wishes to urge the leaders of political parties to make the welfare of delegates a priority in the planning of future national events.
They must also secure a health/life insurance to cover any delegate that may be involved in a road accident, to or from a congress ground.