Ghana Welcomes Foreign Enterprise At The Civic Luncheon
Kumasi,March 24, 1962
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,
I am grateful for the address of welcome which has just been presented to me. I also thank you for this fine reception, and the many expressions of loyalty and confidence in the Party and Government which have been made.
I have listened with great interest to the history of this Municipality which has been recounted. The improvements and the development projects which have taken place in Kumasi in recent years, represent a magnificent record, and bear testimony to the dynamism of our great Party.
Everybody knows of the horrible atrocities and treacherous manoeuvres which took place in Kumasi and in many parts of Ashanti before, and even after our independence. You, Mr. Chairman, have declared in your address that there has been a change of heart in Ashanti. I accept this assurance. Indeed, the fact that I have come here today to declare Kumasi a City should be sufficient confirmation that the Party and the Government recognize this change of heart.
But Mr. Chairman and friends, at a time like this, when Kumasi assumes the great responsibility of a new and higher status, it is of the utmost importance that we should all place our cards on the table face upwards, and do some plain speaking on matters that might operate to obstruct the success, not only of this new city, but indeed of the country as a whole.
I must say that I personally am disturbed by certain tendencies on the part of some Party comrades and councillors. Here in Ashanti, and to some extent, in other parts of the country, matters relating to chieftaincy are causing a great deal of unrest and strife in our Party. This is an unfortunate position and must be corrected promptly.
Here and there a chief’s stool becomes vacant. Two Party comrades contest for enstoolment. One succeeds. Immediately, the loser of the stool contest becomes aggrieved and turns against the Party and Government. Not only that, he at once sets out to undermine the successful comrade who has been enstooled. Both of them have supporters on their sides so unnecessary strife ensues and the Party splits over this issue of chieftaincy.
In future, the Party and Government will take a very serious view of such matters and adopt very drastic measures to correct this state of affairs in our towns and villages. Government will for instance quickly remove any person from a traditional area who indulges in such disruptive activities and thereby tends to undermine not only the progress and prosperity of the villages and towns but also, the solidarity of the Party.
Reference to Party solidarity brings to my mind the question of admission of new members into the Party. The Central Committee directed some time ago that all persons shall be admitted to the Party irrespective of their political past, provided that such persons accept the Party ideology and policies and programme.
In spite of this directive, many comrades resent and object to the admission of new entrants either out of sheer vindictiveness or out of ignorant jealousy. I must emphasise the point that the Party is supreme and will be supreme in all ways always.
No one can remain a Party member and defy Party directives issued by the Central Committee. Henceforth, therefore, any Party member or members who obstruct the admission of ex-members of the defunct United Party seeking admission into our great Party will be dealt with in a fitting manner. We cannot talk loudly of building a one-Party state and yet drive away persons who would want to join the Party and help to realise that objective. Furthermore, no money should be collected from newcomers. Party membership must bear this in mind and guide themselves accordingly. Let me leave no doubt in the minds of all concerned that those who disobey this directive will only have themselves to blame.
Let me now turn my attention to councillors. Very often, I wonder whether councillors understand their duties and responsibilities. Many councillors all over the country easily forget that in point of fact, they are servants of the people. They grow a sense of over-importance and become arrogant and oppressive in their attitude to the people who elected them to the council. Indeed, it is true to say that councillors are tending to become a class unto themselves.
I want to lay stress on the fact that we are working to build a socialist state and that, the Party cannot stand by and allow this baneful conduct to develop. We are protectors of the masses and I personally will not tolerate any position in which the ordinary person in Ghana is scorned and made a footstool. Councillors are servants, not masters of the people.
I thought that the recent action taken by Party and Government to discipline all comrades starting from the top, that is to say, with Ministers and Deputy Ministers, ought to be an eye opener to all of us. This, however, has not been the case. Some councillors think that it is fashionable to be dishonest and they play funny tricks of all sorts with council contracts. Some even, who are contractors conceal this fact instead of declaring their interests when dealing with council contracts.
This is most disgusting and in future, really drastic steps will be taken against any councillor found guilty of such conduct. The ten percent commissions extorted from contractors in the name of the Party must stop and stop for good. I have stated over and over again that public office must not be used for personal gain. Public service demands honesty, devotion and integrity and I am again warning all councillors to eschew all forms of corruption and advance the interests and well-being of the masses of our people from whom the Party derives its strength.
The Party applies one discipline to all its members — we do not and cannot have different corrections for different persons in respect of an identical offence. Every one of us is subject to the authority of the Party. The party treats all members the same. In this regard, I shall cause councillors to be investigated in the same manner as I did with Ministers, etc. and even though in the case of councillors, their office is not paid office, still they are members of our great Party, they have taken oath to serve the people faithfully and honestly and they must remain true to that oath and keep faith with the people.
Mr. Chairman and friends, we know precisely what goes on in these councils and we must do everything to eliminate the evils that militate against our Party and our national interests. The Party, from now on, will exercise greater control on Party councillors who must accept this whip or resign.
A new pattern of councils will be adopted which will enable all constituencies to be turned into districts and all districts, unlike at present, will have their own local councils with their own district commissioners. This will facilitate council work and administration and make for greater efficiency. I have directed also that local dialects must be used in their deliberations. This measure will surely allow the election to the council of men and women who do not read and write English. This, I hope, should bring new blood of native wisdom of our fathers and mothers to local councils and improve the quality of their integrity. Traditional councils on the other hand, must continue to group themselves into larger units.
In order to make administration at the base as effective as possible, the Party and Government intend to introduce village committees all over the country. A village committee will comprise the chairman of the local Party branch and small number of other comrades in whom administrative responsibility of the village.
I now come to an important matter - question of detention. Government will amend the Preventive Detention Act so that release after five years ceases to be automatic as at present. Now, when a person is detained, Government will decide at the end of five years whether he should be released or not. If a detainee is released and he continues the conduct which first sent him to detention, he will be detained again, but this time for twenty years.
Legislation will also soon be introduced to protect state property. Hitherto, we have trifled with state property with impunity. The position will change. The law will be so made that anyone found guilty of stealing, damaging or in any way at all interfering with State property will be liable to the severest punishment possible.
As I have said before elsewhere, the paramount task before us and the nation, is the establishment of an equitable and progressive social order which will provide food, clothing and shelter to meet the needs of the people, in accordance with their means; a social order which will bring to the mass of the people, happiness and a higher standard of living. This means the attainment of full employment, the provision of good housing, and equal opportunity for educational and cultural advancement for all the people.
This is a task in which the Municipal Councils like the Kumasi Council, and all local authorities, can be of positive assistance. It cannot be left to the Party and government alone. City Municipal and Local Councils, all Local Authorities, must be prepared to assume responsibilities for initiating and implementing local plans within the framework of our national policy. Local Authorities can be of great assistance, for example, in helping to solve the problem of boys and girls who gravitate to Accra and other big towns in search of jobs which do not exist.
Local Authorities ought to be addressing themselves to problems of this nature, which they alone experience intimately. It is for this reason that chairmen of City and Municipal Councils have recently been appointed to serve on the Regional Administrative Committee of which Regional Commissioners are chairmen. For efficient administration, traditional areas will remain as they are, but each District will be administered exclusively by a District Commissioner. District Commissioners, moreover, will all be of equal status.
In order that Chairmen of City and Municipal Councils may be enabled to devote full attention to their duties and to carry them out more efficiently, l have reviewed the emoluments which are granted to the holders of this important post. I have directed that as from the 1st March, 1962, all chairmen of Municipal and City Councils should be paid a salary of one thousand eight hundred pounds a year plus an entertainment allowance of two hundred and fifty pounds a year. In addition, chairmen of Municipal and City Councils will be entitled to free bungalow accommodation.
In the past, Chairmen of Municipal Councils have paid visits to neighbouring West African territories, and have also received delegations from those countries. Serious consideration should be given to the convening in the near future of a conference of African Local Authorities at which mutual problems can be discussed. In this way, you will be playing your part in the march towards African unity. We must begin to think in terms of African continental planning and development.
Mr. Chairman, l would like to thank you for the magnificent gifts which have been given to me and Madam Fathia by the Municipal Council. We will treasure them as a memento of this historic occasion. And now, it gives me great pleasure to declare formally, the elevation of Kumasi to the honourable status of a City. I am confident that the Council and the citizens of this City will prove themselves worthy of the high honour and distinction conferred on them today.