In accordance with the cherished customs of our fathers, whereby advice is sought or given at early dawn, I have come to the microphone this early I morning to share some thoughts with you in a homely chat.
Four years ago, we achieved independence and set out on a new road to nationhood. On the 1st of July, 1960, we consolidated this political achievement by setting up the Republic as an expansion of our sovereign will. That day marked the real beginning of life of our nation and settled upon us, responsibility not only for the development and reconstruction of Ghana, but also for the faithful duty of assisting other African territories to achieve their freedom and independence.
This responsibility casts upon all Ghanaians, an obligation to protect the national stability we have so ably created and to guard ever jealously, the solidarity of our nation. For this reason, l have been rather unhappy about reports which I have received since my return from the United Kingdom; and this has led me to speak to you this morning, to examine the matters forming the subject of these reports, and to discuss them openly and sincerely.
When I was away, certain matters arose concerning the Trades Union Congress, the National Assembly, the Cooperative Movement and the United Ghana Farmers Council. These matters created misunderstanding and led to some regrettable demonstrations.
I do not think that this stage of our national life, when all our efforts should be concentrated upon building a first-class nation, we should allow petty misunderstanding and squabbles to divert our attention from our great and worthy aims and objectives.
What was the cause of these unfortunate circumstances? Some Parliamentarians criticised the Trades Union Congress and the other wing organizations of the Convention People’s Party. The officials of these organisations objected to the criticism and made counter-criticisms against certain Parliamentarians and this started a vicious circle of criminations and recriminations. This is clearly unfortunate. I have taken certain steps, and I hope that no occasion will arise to cause a recurrence of a similar situation.
The Convention People’s Party is a great brotherhoods Its strength is embedded in the unity of its membership and since both sides to this unfortunate dispute are members of the Convention People’s Party, I wish to examine the situation and look deeper for the causes of this incident.
I have stated over and over again, that members of the Convention People’s Party must not use their party membership or official position for personal gain or for the amassing of wealth. Such tendencies directly contradict our party constitution, which makes it clear that the aims and objects of the party, among other things, are the building of a socialist pattern of society in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all — a pattern or society consonant with African situations, circumstances and conditions.
I have explained very clearly, this socialist structure and have on many occasions elaborated the five sectors into which our economy may be divided.
These sectors are: first, the state sector, in which all enterprises are entirely owned; second, the joint state-private sector, which will incorporate owned jointly by Government and foreign private capital; third, the cooperative sector, in which all enterprises will be undertaken by cooperative organization affiliated with the National Cooperative Council; fourth, the private enterprises sector, which will incorporate those industries which are open freely to private enterprise; and fifth, the workers’ enterprise sector.
I have had occasions to emphasise the part which private enterprise continue to play in our economic and industrial life. A different situation with Ghanaian businessmen who attempt to combine business with political life. Being a party Member of the Assembly — and much more, being a Ministerial Secretary or a Minister means that the persons who take up these positions owe a duty to those who have elected them or who have given them their positions with confidence. To be able to maintain this confidence, therefore, they should not enter into any type of industrial or commercial undertaking. Any party Member of Parliament who wishes to be a businessman can do so, but he should give up his seat in Parliament. In other words, no Minister, Ministerial Secretary or party Member of Parliament should own a business or be involved in anyone else’s business, Ghanaian or foreign.
In spite of my constant clarifications and explanations of our aims and objectives, some party Members in Parliament pursues a course of conduct in direct contradiction of our party aims. They are tending, by virtue of if functions and positions, to become a separate social group aiming to become new ruling class of self-seeking and careerists. This tendency is working to alienate the support of the masses and to bring the National Assembly into isolation.
Members of Parliament must remember at all times that they are representatives of their constituencies only by reason of their party members and that on no account, should they regard party constituency representation as belonging to them in their own right. In other words, constituencies are not the property of Members of Parliament. It is the party that sends them there and fights for them to become Members of Parliament. I am sure that from now on all Parliamentarians will be guided accordingly in their conduct of representing the party in Parliament.
When I look at the other side of the picture, I must say that some Trades Union officials have now and again indulged in loose talk and reprehensible statements which do no good either to the party, to the Government or to the nation. This is not the time for unbridled-militant trade unionism in our country. Trade union officials must shed their colonial character and their colonial thinking. The approach of the Trades Union Congress to our national issues should be reasoned and constructive in accordance with our present circumstances.
Let me now turn to some other causes which I consider plague Ghanaian society generally and militate against undisturbed progress. A great deal of rumour-mongering goes on all over the country.
“Berko said that the Odikro informed Asamani that the Ohene said he paid a sum of money to a party official to become a paramount chief.
"Kojo said that Mensah told him that Kweku took a bribe”
“Abena stated that Ekua said Esi uses her relations with Kweku to get contracts through the District Commissioner with the support ofthe Regional Commissioner and the blessing of a minister in Accra."
So, day and day, night after night, all types and manner of wild allegations and rumours are circulated and they are always well sprinkled with: they say they say, wosee, wosee, akee, akee!
Many members of the party and of the public are guilty of this conduct. I have directed that in future, any allegations or rumours so made or circulated against any person must immediately be brought before the central committee of the party for investigation.
One of the most degrading aspects of party conducts is the tendency on the part of some comrades to go round using the names of persons in prominent positions to collect money for themselves. Equally degrading is the tendency on the part of some persons in prominent positions to create agents for collecting money. This is a shameful and highly criminal tendency which must be crushed in the most ruthless manner.
May I take this opportunity to stress an essential point. Statements which may be regarded as Government policy are those which are clearly stated in the text to be the official policy of the Government.
In recent months, people in Ghana and abroad have frequently been confused and the Government’s policies made uncertain as a result of unauthorized p statements which have been made by persons employed by the Government, or I quasi-Government bodies. Often, these statements have conflicted with the Government’s policies, and although they have been corrected subsequently by the Government, much harm has been done, and confusion and suspicion have resulted.
In spite of the freedom of speech which can reasonably be allowed in such cases, I consider that firm action should in the national interest, be taken. From now on, therefore, no public statement affecting Government policy will be made by any Minister, Ministerial Secretary, member of Government cooperation or institution, Government official or any other person employed by the Government, unless that statement has first had Presidential or Cabinet approval. It is my intention to take strong disciplinary action against any individual who infringes this procedure.
I am aware that the evil of patronage finds a good deal of place in our society. I consider that it is entirely wrong for persons placed in positions of eminence or authority to use the influence of office in patronizing others, in many cases wrong persons, for immoral favours. I am seeing to it that this evil shall be uprooted, no matter whose ox is gored. The same thing goes for nepotism, which is, so to speak, a twin brother of the evil of patronage.
At this point, I would like to make a little divergence and touch upon Civil Service red tape. It amazes me that, up to the present, many civil servants do not realise that we are living in a revolutionary era. This Ghana, which has lost so much time serving colonial masters, cannot afford to be tied down to archaic snail-pace methods of work which obstruct expeditious progress. We have lost so much time that we need to do in ten years what has taken others a hundred years to accomplish. Civil servants, therefore, must develop a new orientation, a sense of mission and urgency to enable them to eliminate all tendencies towards red tape-ism, bureaucracy and waste. Civil Servants must use their initiative to make the Civil Service an effective instrument in the rapid development of Ghana.
In order to promote greater efficiency in the machinery of the Government, I have decided to re-organise slightly the existing ministerial set-up. In view of the increasingly important part being played by Ghana at the present time in the African liberation movement, I have decided to create a Ministry of African Affairs, as distinct from the present Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This new Ministry will be responsible for all African matters, including the present duties undertaken by the Bureau of African Affairs and the African Affairs Centre. It will also liaise with the All-African People’s Secretariat and the All-African Trade Union Federation.
The Ministry of Labour and Cooperatives and Ministry of Social Welfare will be abolished. Ministerial responsibility for labour, social welfare and community development matters will be undertaken by the Ministry of Education, which will therefore be known as the Ministry of Education, Labour and Social Welfare. The staff of the Cooperative Department will be seconded to the National Cooperative Council to assist the council in the supervision and co-ordination of cooperative activities throughout the country.
Responsibility for consumer cooperatives, agricultural cooperatives and industrial cooperatives will be undertaken by the Ministry of Trade, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Development Secretariat, respectively. Let me say a few words about the purchase of cocoa. The report I have received so far indicate that, the statement made in Parliament some time ago by the Minister of Labour and Cooperatives, that a state buying agency would be established by the Government and that this agency would control the purchase of cocoa throughout the country, has not been favourably received by the farmers. After careful consideration, I have come to the conclusion that this proposal, which was announced to Parliament, is perhaps not the best way in which we can handle this important matter of the purchase of cocoa. It is of the utmost importance that the arrangements for the purchases of our cocoa, which is not only the source of livelihood for the majority of people in the country, but also of such utmost importance to our economy, should be as simple and efficient as possible. I have therefore instructed that the United Ghana Farmers’ Council, which embraces all the farmers of Ghana, should be given the sole responsibility for organizing the purchase of all cocoa produced in Ghana on behalf of the Cocoa Marketing Board.
I am assured by the United Ghana Farmers’ Council that they have made all the necessary arrangements and are prepared to undertake the purchase of cocoa as from the main crop season this year.
A satisfactory safeguard in respect of this matter has been provided in an arrangement which I have directed for the auditing of the accounts of the United Ghana Farmers’ Council by the Auditor-General. By this arrangement, the accounts of the United Ghana Farmers’ Council, all public corporations, the Trades Union Congress and all other bodies concerned shall be audited by the Auditor-General who shall have the same powers in relation to them as are conferred upon him by the Constitution in relation to Government accounts.
As I said at the recent civic luncheon arranged in my honour at the Ambassador Hotel by the Accra City Council, I am very anxious that, the city of Accra should be developed as quickly as possible in view of its increasing international importance. In order to speed up the process, I have appointed a Special Commissioner for Accra Development, who will be responsible to me through the Minister of Works and Housing for the rapid implementation of all public works in respect of the city of Accra and the general development of the city.
In particular, he will be concerned with the development within the city of Accra of parks, children’s playgrounds, public swimming pools and other such amenities, and also with the construction of streets and slum clearance schemes and of a sewerage system. I trust that the Special Commissioner will receive the full cooperation of the Accra City Council and the people of Accra in this most important assignment.
I have recently been alarmed at the amount of travelling abroad which is undertaken by Ministers, Ambassadors, Ministerial Secretaries and Civil Servants of all ranks. In many cases, it is clear that approval is sought from no one before the journeys concerned are made. In future, travelling abroad unless approved by the Cabinet will not be paid for by the Government. The cost of any journeys which are undertaken without this approval will be surcharged to the person concerned. I have also directed that instructions should be given to the heads of all public boards and corporations, to ensure that no officers of these boards and corporations travel outside Ghana at Government expense without my specific approval or that of the Cabinet.
Ghanaian Ambassadors take their children with them when they proceed to their stations, at the expense of the Government. I am taking steps to discourage this practice for; it seems to me that on psychological and other grounds, it is better for those young children to begin their education at home.
At any rate, this practice cannot be justified on financial grounds. In future, Ambassadors and Foreign Service officers will not be allowed to take their children abroad unless such children are below the age of five years. The procedure will apply equally to civil servants and other Ghanaian public functionaries serving abroad. Let me now come back to the party.
It is most important to remember that, the strength of the Convention People’s Party is derived from the masses of the people. These men and women include those whom I have constantly referred to as the unknown warriors – dedicated men and women who serve the party loyally and selflessly without hoping for reward. It is therefore natural for the masses to feel some resentment when they see comrades whom they have put into power and given the mandate to serve the country on their behalf, begin to forget-themselves and indulge in ostentatious living. High party officials, Ministers, Ministerial Secretaries, Chairmen of Statutory Boards and Corporations must forever bear this in mind. Some of us very easily forget that we ourselves have risen from amongst the masses. We must avoid any conduct that will breed antagonism and uneasy relations. Let us always keep in mind the fact that constant examination and correction are necessary for maintaining the solidarity of the party. The aim of all correction, however, must be to build and not to destroy. The central committee proposes to issue instructions shortly on the duties and rights of party members.
Coming to the integral organizations of the party, I consider it essential to emphasise once more that, the Trades Union Congress, the United Ghana Farmers’ Council, the National Cooperative Council and the National Council of Ghana Women, are integral parts of the Convention People’s Party, and in order to correct certain existing anomalies, the central committee has decided that separate membership cards of the integral organizations shall be abolished forthwith. The membership card of the party will be only qualifications for membership within these organizations, namely the Trades Union Congress, the United Ghana Farmers’ Council, the National Cooperative Council and the National Council of Ghana Women, and no other membership card other than that of the Convention People’s Party shall be recognized by these bodies. In all regional headquarters, provision will be made for the central party and these integral organizations to be housed in one building. This is necessary for effective coordination and control. Also, the separate flags used by these organizations will be abolished and replaced by the flag of the Convention People’s Party.
At this stage, I wish to take the opportunity to refer to an internal matter of the Trades Union Congress. It has come to my notice that dues of 4s. per month are being paid by some unions, whereas others pay 2s. monthly as membership dues. I understand that this position is causing some irritation. I have therefore instructed, after consultation with the Trades Union Congress officials, that union dues shall remain at 2s.per month.
Finally, I wish to state that in considering remedial measures, I have found it necessary to direct that a limit be imposed on property acquisition by Ministers, party officials and Ministerial Secretaries in order to enable them to conform to the modest and simple way of life demanded by the ideals and principles of the Convention People’s Party.
Countrymen, our mission to Ghana and to Africa and the unique personality of our party as a vanguard of the African liberation movement impose upon us increasing responsibility not only to set our own house in order, but also to set very high standards from which all who seek to emulate us shall draw devotion and inspiration in their own struggles.