Debates of 24 May 2005

PRAYERS 10:15 a.m.




Mr. First Deputy Speaker 10:15 a.m.
Hon. Members, we have the Votes and Proceedings of Friday, May 20, 2005. Are there any corrections to be made? Page 1…6?
Mr. Samuel K. Adu-Gyamfi 10:15 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, page 5, number 10 - On Friday, I was absent with permission but my name has appeared under “absent”.
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 10:15 a.m.
You were surely absent, but you said you took permission?
Mr. Adu-Gyamfi 10:15 a.m.
Yes, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 10:15 a.m.
All right, the Clerk's Office will effect the relevant correction. Page 6.
Mr. S. Asamoah-Boateng 10:15 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I was not here last week with permission but my name does not seem to appear even among the absentees.
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 10:15 a.m.
So your name appeared that you were present or what, or it does not appear at all? Is that what you are saying?
Mr. Asamoah-Boateng 10:15 a.m.
Yes, Mr. Speaker, it does not appear on the paper
at all; not even on the list of those present or absent.
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 10:15 a.m.
Maybe you should look harder; it might definitely have appeared at one point or the other. Either you are present, absent or absent with permission. Page 8 - Are there any corrections? [Pause.] Hon. Members, in the absence of any corrections, we would assume that the Votes and Proceedings are a true reflection of what took place last Friday.
Mr. Asamoah-Boateng 10:15 a.m.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker, I have just found it.
Mr. G. K. Arthur 10:15 a.m.
Yes, Mr. Speaker, the Official Report of 19th May 2005, column 190, the last paragraph, line 4 -- “Electrification Project in Amenfi West” not “Wenchi West”.
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 10:15 a.m.
Which line are you talking about?
Mr. Arthur 10:15 a.m.
Line 4, that is the last but one line - “Electrification Project in Amenfi West”.
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 10:15 a.m.
Instead of “Wenchi West”?
Mr. Arthur 10:15 a.m.
Yes, they have written “Wenchi West”, but it should be “Amenfi West”.
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 10:15 a.m.
All right, the relevant correction would be effected by the Clerk's Office. Are there any other corrections? [Pause.] Hon. Members, that also has not got any other corrections so we would assume that the two Official
Speaker, if I may, with your kind permission -- The Minister of State for Public Sector Reform, hon. Dr. Paa kwesi Nduom may lay the Paper on behalf of the Minister for Environment and Science.
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 10:15 a.m.
Hon. Member for Binduri, are you here with us? We have already admitted your Statement for this morning. You did submit it this morning. Are you ready to read it?
Mr. M. A. Awuni 10:15 a.m.
I am not ready because I have not got it here.
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 10:15 a.m.
Have you got your statement ready? [Pause.] Hon Member for Binduri, what do you say? I thought you were on your feet? Are you saying you are not ready to read your Statement?
Mr. Awumi 10:15 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I am not ready.
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 10:15 a.m.
Fair enough.
Mr. J. A. Tia 10:15 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I am sure you are talking about the Statement that was -- [Interruption.]
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 10:15 a.m.
No, I am sure about what I am talking about, so please -- I am talking about a Statement which stands in the name of hon. Mark Anthony Awuni, Member of Parliament for Binduri.
Mr. Tia 10:15 a.m.
Yes, I am saying that I submitted it to your office just this morning but I was not notified to alert the Member to stand in. In fact, he called me earlier to ask about it and I said I got the Statement yesterday in the evening and I was working on it this morning to submit it. I was not too sure that it would be admitted because I was going to submit it this morning. So I told him to prepare for Thursday or Friday. But at
Reports for Wednesday and Thursday are all true reflections of what took place on those specific days. Are there any Statements?
Mr. M. T. Nyaunu 10:15 a.m.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 10:15 a.m.
You mean you want to read a Statement?
Mr. Nyaunu 10:15 a.m.
Yes, a Statement.
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 10:15 a.m.
No, I have not admitted it yet. [Interruptions.] Hon. Members, yes, I think I made a mistake. I have not admitted his Statement yet. I have agreed that a Statement should be made by the Minister for Foreign Affairs. It does not appear to me that he is here with us right now. Majority Chief Whip, do you have any explanation to give? He is not around.
Mr. Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 10:15 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, my information is that he is on his way coming. Unfortunately, there are two events going on and he has to be present simultaneously at both places but he is on his way coming. I guess in the next five minutes, he should be here. Mr. Speaker, I may crave your indulgence and, of course, that of the House that if there are no other Statements, then we could perhaps commence Public Business, deal with item 4 and thereafter come back to Statements; that is, if there is no other statement. If there is, then with your kind permission we could take the one before - [Interruption.]
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 10:15 a.m.
I agree with you, hon. Chief Whip. Let us go on to Public Business.
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 10:25 a.m.
Now, I can see that the hon. Minister for Foreign Affairs is here with us. If he is ready with his Statement -- Hon. Minister, we were told you were on your way. Now that you are here with us, can you make your Statement.
STATEMENTS 10:25 a.m.

Minister for Foreign Affairs (Nana Akufo-Addo) 10:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I am grateful for the opportunity to address this House on the occasion of the 42nd Anniversary of our original continental body, the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) which has now been transformed into the African Union (AU).
Mr. Speaker, tomorrow Wednesday, the 25th of May 2005, Africa Day will be celebrated as a public holiday throughout our continent by all the Member States of our Union as part of the process of capital mobilization of the African people for the achievement of the goals of our Union; that is, the eradication of mass poverty and the development of prosperous Africa in conditions of respect for human rights and the rule of law.
Mr. Speaker, this is an occasion for us
Today, the successful organization of OAU is facing other formidable challenges of nation building; internal strife in a number of our sister countries and the resulting political and economic stagnation, not to speak of the rapid deterioration of our capacity to put our countries on the path of sustainable economic development, have brought in their wake, increased poverty, which is being translated into extraordinary hardship for both old and young. What is worse, the existence of our race is seriously threatened by the HIV/AIDS pandemic as well as other communicable though preventable diseases and natural challenges.
The twenty-first century, therefore, Mr. Speaker, should be Africa's century for rising to meet these challenges, especially to reduce poverty to an insignificant level of our continent because poverty has been the root cause of many of Africa's problems, especially intra-state conflicts. The need therefore to eradicate poverty in Africa cannot be overemphasized and the effort of the AU geared towards sustaining sustainable economic development in our country deserves our total support.
In that regard, the New Economic Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), the regional organizations in Africa which have been characterized as the building blocks or the pillars of NEPAD are the main tools of the AU in its efforts to bring Africa out of the current economic difficulty. The AU is also making maximum use of the NEPAD African Peer Review Mechanism to encourage African leaders to pursue policies which are in line with good government.

Mr. Speaker, the AU's achievements in peace-keeping and peace-building on the continent are also worth noting. Thanks to consistent support to our relevant regional
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 10:35 a.m.
I have already made my ruling on that known. We do not have his Statement with me here, so I cannot ask him to go ahead and make a Statement.
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 10:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I thought you allowed us to enter the domain of Public Business.
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 10:35 a.m.
I did but the hon. Minister for Environment and Science happened not to be here, so nobody could lay it.
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 10:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker,I sought permission to -- [Interruption.]
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 10:35 a.m.
I did not hear you seeking permission. [Laughter.] You are now asking for permission.
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 10:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I did, so if you would allow the Minister of State for Public Sector Reform to lay the Paper on his behalf and thereafter, we can come to the Statement.
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 10:35 a.m.
Very well.
PAPERS 10:35 a.m.

Mr. First Deputy Speaker 10:35 a.m.
Hon. Members, that is a Statement on the African Day which falls on the 25th of May, that is tomorrow, which has been declared holiday in this country.
Now, we would take a few contributions from the floor. And the first one is from hon. John Mahama, MP for Bole-Bamboi.
Mr. John D. Mahama (NDC -- Bole- Bamboi) 10:35 a.m.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, for a while I was afraid that you had probably forgotten that I was the Minority Spokesman on Foreign Affairs.
of the continent but should take actual concrete steps in order to make the issue of unification a reality. Mr. Speaker, it allows us a stronger bargaining chip in the comity of nations if we speak with one voice instead of as individual nations.

Capt. Nkrabeah Effah-Dartey (rtd.) -- rose --
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 10:35 a.m.
Hon. Member for Berekum, are you on a point of order?
Capt. Effah-Dartey (rtd.): Yes, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, after deliberating with myself, I think I must raise a point of order against what my hon. Colleague has said.
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 10:45 a.m.
What is your point?
Capt. Effah-Dartey (rtd.): My hon. Colleague is misleading the House when he said that the first President, Osagyefo Dr. kwame Nkrumah was overthrown in a CIA-inspired coup. Mr. Speaker, I am not a lawyer of the CIA, but this statement made on the floor of the House deserves proof, otherwise my hon. Friend has to withdraw. It cannot go on the records, for purposes of historical prudence, that the 1966 coup was CIA-inspired. If my hon. Friend has a perception, if that is what he believes in, fair enough; he can believe in that in his bedroom or in his private life. But to stand on the floor of Parliament and make such a categorical statement that Dr. kwame Nkrumah was overthrown as a result of a CIA-inspired plot without a
year, Ghana was elected to serve a two- year term as one of the pioneer members of the fifteen-member AU Peace and Security Council which is responsible for the promotion of peace, security and stability, preventive diplomacy as well as disaster management on the continent.

Again, at the third honorary session of the AU Assembly held in 2004 in Addis Ababa, the President of the Republic, His Excellency John Agyekum kufuor was honoured with the chairmanship of a high level committee of Heads of State and Governors established by the assembly to consult further on the implementation of the common African Defense and Security Policy.

The outcome of the committee's work was the Non-Aggression and Common Defense Pact which was adopted by the Assembly at the Fourth Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State of the AU in Abuja on January 1, 2005. Viewed as an instrument for reinforcing co-operation among member states in the areas of defense and security and particularly in strengthening the AU's mechanism for conflict prevention, management and resolution, the pact has been recommended to member states for ratification.

I hope this august House, the Parliament of the Republic of Ghana, will oblige the nation by being one of the first Parliaments on the Continent to do so.

Mr. Speaker, increased co-operation on the continental level is one of the best ways of facing the challenges of our time and fighting against Africa's margina- lization in international relations. The AU and its activities therefore, remain crucial to Ghana and that is why we intend to celebrate this year's African Day in a befitting manner.
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 10:45 a.m.
You have reminded me.
Mr. Mahama 10:45 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I rise to associate myself with this Statement on the occasion of the celebration of African Day. Mr. Speaker, on this occasion, we join hands to congratulate the African Union for the progress that has been made so far in getting this continent to speak with one concerted voice on global issues. Mr. Speaker, on all such occasions, one cannot forget the role and the vision of our first President, the President of Ghana, Dr. kwame Nkrumah and his vision for creating a united Africa.
Mr. Speaker, Osagyefo Dr. kwame Nkrumah had a vision of liberating the entire continent. By then, it was under colonial rule and was subjected to the very wicked form of apartheid. He also had a vision of unifying the country. Looking at the countries that were emerging from colonialism, some of them were so small and did not have the potential of becoming viable states and so he felt that a loose federation or some federation of countries of the continent in order to create a much larger market and to be able to develop a much stronger political platform would be a better option than having several more balkanized states. And so certainly, any time anyone speaks about the African Union, one cannot continue to mention the vision of Dr. kwame Nkrumah. Unfortunately, Nkrumah was vilified sometimes, quite wickedly by his own colleagues and eventually as we all know, he was overthrown in a CIA-inspired coup and eventually died in exile.
Mr. Speaker, the formation of the African Union is one of the most progressive steps that we have taken as a continent and we believe that the AU should not just become a talk shop
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 10:45 a.m.
Hon. Effah-Dartey, you have made your point let him continue.
Mr. Mahama 10:45 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, recently declassified information by the State Department provides further evidence of the CIA involvement in the coup against President Nkrumah -- [Interruption.]
Nana Akufo-Addo 10:45 a.m.
On a point of order. Mr. Speaker, I think this House would be well served if emotive and value judgements are not put into matters. This question of CIA involvement in the 1966 coup is a matter of considerable controversy to both sides. There are people who believe that this document establishes what the hon. Member for Bole (Mr. Mahama) says; others say that they do not. I think that the Statement that is on the floor of the House -- I myself when I was speaking, attempted not to make any kind of value judgement in the comments that I made. I think that if the hon. Member would do the same, this debate would advance.
Otherwise, on the question of the overthrow of Dr. kwame Nkrumah, we all
achieving the MDGs. For most of the targets that were set, the year 2015 was set as the target date for meeting those goals. We are in 2005 and it means that we have ten years to go. And if you look at the issue of halfing poverty, that is reducing by half the number of people living in extreme poverty, ten years is a very short time to be able to achieve these goals. So we as Africans using our own intellect and resources with the commendable support of our development partners should speed up the work on achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
Mr. Speaker, in terms of world trade, Africa has dropped from 6 per cent share in world trade to just above 2 per cent share in world trade. What this means is that we are increasingly becoming marginalized in terms of the world trading system and this is not a very happy development.
Mr. Speaker, in terms of world information order, Africa controls very little in terms of the world mass media and so for a good part of this world, the only information that they receive on Africa is the negative information about conflicts, about famine, about disease and all the other negative issues. Positive stories and success stories coming out of Africa are not being beamed sufficiently across to the other parts of the world to see that there is some hope in Africa.
Mr. Speaker, we have been pushing the New Partnership for Africa's Devel- opment (NEPAD) for some time now and there is some bit of frustration stepping in. I remember President Wade recently made some statements that indicated his level of frustration in terms of the movement forward on the NEPAD initiative.
It is instructive that at the time that the NEPAD initiative was launched and we went with funfare to the G8 Summit to see what our development partners could help us fund, we came up with a budget of $60 billion and we came away from the G8 Summit with only $1 billion miserly for
substantive proof to this statement, he has to withdraw, Mr. Speaker, because it is a dangerous statement.
Mr. Mahama 10:45 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I assumed that my hon. Friend, being a lawyer, would cultivate the habit of reading wide, but it looks like he has strait-jacketed himself in his very narrow legalistic kingdom -- [Hear! Hear!]
Mr. Emmanuel A. Owusu-Ansah 10:55 a.m.
On a point of order. Mr. Speaker, the hon. Member is misleading the House. He is saying that the legal profession is limited in scope -- [Uproar] -- Mr. Speaker, that is the worst statement that would ever come from the hon. Member. If he did say so, it is incorrect. He should withdraw.
Mr. Mahama 10:55 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, we have a very serious problem with hearing or comprehension. Mr. Speaker, I said that my hon. Friend, Capt. Nkrabeah Effah-Dartey, being a lawyer, I expected that he would read very widely but it seems he is strait-jacketing himself into his profession, that is, concentrating on the legal profession; that was all I said. If he read wider, he would have been acquainted with these publications that I am just mentioning. But let me go on, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 10:55 a.m.
Hon. Minister, I suppose the Statement has been made and I believe that the hon. Member is also making his contribution. It is unfortunate that we are trying to veer away from the main Statement itself but this is, as it were, Parliament House and hon. Members can make their own comments.
Mr. Mahama 10:55 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I definitely
have no intention to turn this occasion into one of trading exchanges. It is my hon. Friend, Capt. Nkrabeah Effah-Dartey who has been trying to distract me.
Mr. Speaker, I said that a lot of progress has been made in conflict-resolution on the continent and as the hon. Minister for Foreign Affairs said, Ghana has played a very creditable part in terms of peace- keeping on the continent and I think that that is an issue we must be proud of. But Mr. Speaker, there is still a long way to go. A lot of the conflicts that we started to tackle we have seen no resolution yet -- several of those that he mentioned. In la Cote d'Ivoire, we are still struggling. In Togo, we are still struggling. I hope that issues are resolved. Congo's is still unresolved. Somalia is a nation-state that has virtually failed and trying to rebuild it into a modern nation-state is creating a lot of challenges.
Mr. Speaker, in respect of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), when the analysis has been done you will find that we are behind in terms of
Mr. James Appietu-Ankrah (NPP - Lower West Akim) 10:55 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, as we celebrate the African Union Day, something is happening in Ghana at this moment. Ghana is hosting the 32nd Conference and General Assembly of the All African Insurance Organization which was opened on behalf of the President by the hon. Minister for Manpower, Youth and Employment. Mr. Speaker, this Conference has brought into our country over 300 participants from Africa and about 200 observers from Europe, Asia and America.
Mr. Speaker, this is one of the benefits that have accrued from the vision and foresight of the founding fathers of the African Union. Mr. Speaker, what is significant about this Conference is about the theme, that is, Good Corporate Governance and the Insurance Industry in Africa. We are aware of what good corporate governance means in business. We are asking investors to come into our country, but no big investor would come without a solid insurance industry.

Some hon. Members - rose -
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 10:55 a.m.
Hon. Member, we have a Statement on the floor regarding the African Union (AU) and African Day; you stand the risk of hijacking this Statement and making your
If one looks at the Constitutive Act of the African Union, Mr. Speaker, one can discern the continuities and discontinuities between the Organization of African Unity Charter and the reconstituted African Union. Certainly, today, within the framework of the AU, one is no more talking about inimical blocks like the Casablanca and the Monrovia Blocks of integration but one is beginning to look at very vibrant subregional arrangements such as the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the East African Community, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) of which Ghana is a leading player and which actually organizes and pushes forward the agenda of the African Union in its Constitutive Act.
More specifically, one would see a departure from the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in terms of the essential ideals of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD). NEPAD initially started as a very cynical structural arrangement within the African continent and which some people have gone to the extent of referring to as a “kneepad situation”, which ironically, at that time, meant that African leaders had actually come together to prepare durable kneepads to enable them beg around the world.
Over the years, since the initiation of NEPAD three very, very essential elements have emerged, and one of them has been the notion of empowerment of the African people. And the notion of empowerment simply means that the so-called constitutional arrangement, or what some people prefer to call the social contract between a government and its people, is to ensure that the people are sufficiently empowered to keep the government on its toes, so that good governance could actually be realized on the African continent.
The second important thing that did come up within the NEPAD framework
the whole of the African continent. There must be commitment both on the continent and outside the continent that is in respect of our development partners if we are to see these initiatives succeed.
Only recently, Prime Minister Tony Blair has come with the issue of the Commission for Africa. He is quoted to have said that “Africa has become a scar on the conscience of the world”. I hope that meaning is given to what he really said, that something should be done about Africa. There is nothing to be ashamed about partnering with countries that are to support other parts of the world. We are all members of this planet and we all deserve to be able to live together and succeed together.
So we hope that with the Presidency of United kingdom on the G8 and the European Union Commission (EU), we would see a lot of progress in terms of commitment to solving the problems that Africa faces. But I must say that while we can rely on our partners outside to assist us in terms of pulling ourselves out of the situation in which we find ourselves, a lot would depend on the commitment of Africans themselves and especially the leaders, that we do everything possible to ensure that the rule of law is respected and that our economies are managed in the most prudent manner so that this continent can move forward. We must also insist on issues to do with good governance so that our people can unleash their creative talents in order that we can do what we have to do to move our continent forward.
So Mr. Speaker, on this occasion, I wish, on my own behalf and on behalf of the minority, to congratulate the African Union for the steps that have been taken so far and also assure that we shall join in the celebration.
own statement. Please, if you would really concentrate on the Statement on the floor.
Mr. Appietu-Ankrah 10:55 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I am talking about what African unity has brought by way of the economic benefits that would accrue to this country by bringing together insurance experts from all over the continent. I am saying that - [Interruption.]
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 10:55 a.m.
Insurance experts from all over the continent or all over - [Interruption.]
Mr. Appietu-Ankrah 10:55 a.m.
From all over the continent of Africa, Mr. Speaker, we are concentrating on the political gains that African unity has brought to us, forgetting that African unity has also brought to us some economic benefits; that is what I am reminding all of us about; that we need to recognize the fact that we have some benefits by way of financial gains by the countries that form the African Union; that is what I am saying. I am saying that we ought to recognize the fact that we have got our brothers and sisters from all over Africa in Accra at this moment with whom we are going to celebrate the African Unity Day. That is what I want to bring to the fore in this House.
Dr. Benjamin Kunbuor (NDC - Lawra/Nandom) 10:55 a.m.
Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to make a contribution to the Statement that has been made by the hon. Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Mr. Speaker, indeed, 42 years in historical terms is a relatively short time for one to begin to assess an institution like the African Union (AU). But 42 years is at the same time sufficiently long in terms of the living conditions of the African people for one to want to make that type of assessment.
Dr. Benjamin Kunbuor (NDC - Lawra/Nandom) 11:15 a.m.
To this extent, it was not surprising that ECOWAS had a pioneering global role as the first subregional block that did come out with the first censoring moratorium on live weapons. There are, I am aware, quite serious efforts to actually develop this moratorium that did not initially have any binding legal effect in international law into one that is a convention or a protocol within the understanding of NEPAD and the AU framework, and within the good practices that have been achieved under the efficacy of the ECOWAS moratorium for us to begin to have a binding convention on small arms and live weapons.

As the hon. Minister for Foreign Affairs has indicated, I equally hope that Ghana would be forthcoming in actually pushing the agenda to get this convention in place and would play a leading role. To that extent, one would say that it is even the National Commission in Ghana that deals in small arms.

This National Commission actually comes under the framework of the United Nations Programme of Action on Light Weapons and Small Arms. What is interesting about the National Commission here and its particular location in Ghana is that there are a number of reporting obligations; there are very conflicting ideas as to whether Ghana has been meeting its reporting obligations.

I have come across one of the United

during the peace initiative and negotiations in Sierra Leone, there was a particular component that sometimes was identified as being in the security sector and it had a lot of large concessions or part of the diamond industry in Sierra Leone; and that chief executive was quoted as having said that he did not think the peace would last, because the peace did not anchor on the fundamental issues of Sierra Leone in relation to the power gain of external military agencies that were operating in Sierra Leone.

He gave the then Leader a hundred days for the government to collapse. The peace talks collapsed, conflicts re-emerged in Sierra Leone within ninety-five days and I think that these developments are things that Ghana as country and the pioneering star in Africa's integration ought to be looking at.
Minister for Public Sector Reforms (Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom) 11:15 a.m.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to make a contribution to the Statement made on the floor of this House by the hon. Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Mr. Speaker, what we are about to celebrate tomorrow tells all of us that, indeed, principled positions endure; and indeed, if the principled position is founded on the goodwill and the well- being of the masses of the people, these positions always withstand the ups and downs of public opinion over time. So the principled position of an Africa united, of an Africa prosperous in unity has endured over time; and that is why we have something to celebrate tomorrow.
But if we are going to continue to celebrate principled positions over time, then we must also recognize that Africa Union integration requires funding. So we cannot just continue to talk about what we may get out of an African Union if we do not make the relevant investment.
has been that whatever economic or social policy that is being implemented within the African continent must have the ownership of the people of Africa. Quite often when we were talking about Africa in terms of unity, we talked about it in terms of the relationship between states within the OAU.
Within the framework of NEPAD today, we are talking about a relationship between states and, equally, a relationship between individual members of the various countries and civil society organizations. This is beginning to expand the frontier of interaction that should normally engender any arrangement of regional integration.
Lastly, a very significant development has been the fact that almost all African countries and the Constitutive Act of the AU have actually registered in no uncertain terms that good governance and the rules that go with it are the basic guidelines that should guide the forward movement of individual states, communities and the entire continent, in our interaction with ourselves and in our interaction with other regional blocks.
I will definitely not underestimate the role that civil society is playing within the AU framework that has been provided for by the Constitutive Act of the AU. Quite often civil society was seen as one that was always at par with governmental institutions, but today we are beginning to see that fora have often been created within AU deliberations in which articulations of civil society concerns, particularly on security matters have actually taken place within the confines of the AU; and that is one of the positive developments that we should be looking at.
Mr. Speaker, having indicated these points, there is one area that deals with stability, security and the arms issue in Africa, ECOWAS location in it and Ghana's own location in it that requires us to redo a number of thinking of our own
Nations Programme of Action documents in which, indeed, the National Commission on Small Arms in Ghana did purport to give a report, as it were. But when you look at it, it looks like the United Nations Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons, perhaps, is one of the agreements that Ghana has not ratified, as a country, and it is quite significant that when we are dealing with a holistic approach to security issues on the African continent and within the framework of the African Union (AU), Ghana should continue to be the shining star and must meet all its obligations with all these arrangements that we have.
It is interesting to know that the framework of the AU now begins to frown on international development that turns Africa into an area of conflict and actually as a marketplace for mercenary activities that have bedevilled this continent; and there is a push to actually monitor the extent to which these soldiers of fortune actually destabilize Africa and the extent to which they have brought a lot of human suffering.
Certainly, the mercenary of the 1960s that we have known, who used to be a robust, fatigues-wearing military person has suddenly changed and Africa has to respond to these demands. Today, the mercenary that we see in Africa is one that is well clad in a suit that can pass for the best innocent business executive anywhere in this world. But because of the peculiar changes that have taken place in this particular sector, we begin to see the developments in Sierra Leone, the developments in Liberia, and possibly other hot-beds inviting these soldiers of fortune.
It was particularly interesting that
Mr. K. A. Okerchiri (NPP - Nkawkaw) 11:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I must say that the discussions have been quite titillating. Mr. Speaker, it is so because on previous occasions when a Minister for Foreign Affairs had brought a report in respect of the African Union to this House, the reaction of hon. Members had been full of pessimism as to whether the African Union (AU) was going to do anything better from its predecessor, the Organization of African Unity (OAU).
In fact, in Durban the AU was born, and if you read many international magazines they were full of this skepticism; and they asked this question: “What will be
Mr. Speaker, let me take you back to 1963, because in that document which was called the “Plan for the Reconstruction and Development of Ghana” and what has become known as the Seven-Year Development Plan, you will find that the developers of Accra, which include certain people that we recognize first and foremost in this House and outside of the House - because, indeed, the Executive Secretary of the Planning Commission at the time was no other person than the hon. Member of Parliament and the Senior Minister, Mr. J. H. Mensah; and it included many, many other people who are not in the House -
In that plan was the recognition that Ghana has to make an investment, an investment in the area of promoting the freedom of Africans, particularly those down south and also the integration moves that Africa had to make. So in that Seven- Year Development Plan, moneys were made available to fund the Organisation of African Unity and that is one of the reasons why we have something to celebrate tomorrow.
Indeed, when we have people to talk about in terms of the Secretary- General of the United Nations, in terms of Ghana's well-known experience with peace-keeping all over the world, indeed Ghana's positions that it has held with the Economic Commission for Africa and in many, many other places, you can go back to the principled position taken by the first President to this country and also the decision to fund that principled position in our development plan.
Mr. Speaker, there have been certain positions that have proven unpopular sometimes during the day, but because of the principles they have endured. You can even go back to the time when Dr. Busia was Prime Minister and he talked about devaluation; and of course he was
different about the AU from the OAU”?
Mr. Speaker, I am proud that now in hon. Members' contributions to this Statement they have exhibited beyond reasonable doubt that they have faith in the African Union and that is a ray of hope on the horizon. Mr. Speaker, speaking for myself, I think that hon. Members have very good reason to be very, very optimistic that the AU will succeed.
Mr. Speaker, why do I say so? It is because we now have a new breed of African leaders who would want to consign buffoonery to the dustbin of history. Mr. Speaker, we have a new breed of African politicians who would want, as it were, to respect the rights of their citizenry. And Mr. Speaker, we have a new breed of African politicians who would want, as it were, to listen to civil society. Mr. Speaker, it is interesting that when the AU needed commissioners, majority of the commissioners, about four of them, happened to be women, a manifestation of the fact that we have responded to the request of women advocates who would really want women to be elevated within the scheme of the political spectrum.
Mr. Speaker, I am also very happy that now many African leaders - At least, you can see some on the lunatic fringes. Of course, we are bound to help them but in the main, they have realized and it has dawned on them that when their terms of office are due they must give way to their successors. Mr. Speaker, I think that President Chissano and some others are there for us all to testify.
Mr. Speaker, there is now a very serious attempt to tackle the conflict problem. Mr. Speaker, I do not say this to really get the Minister for Foreign Affairs quite swollen-headed but if you saw them at
the mediation committee, they discussed things as they should be discussed, sweeping nothing at all under the carpet; and for me that really gives me hope.
Mr. Speaker, on the conflict situation that I am talking about, we all know that but for the assiduosness and seriousness we all could have found the situation in Togo really out of hand. But now in Abuja they are talking about whatever it is for Togo not to be allowed to degenerate into the situation where there will be that level of carnage.
Mr. Speaker, as I said, now AU respects the opinions of civil society. Mr. Speaker, as we are sitting now, there is a meeting of civil society taking place and really planning on the input they want to give. They have been offered that opportunity and they are planning, networking as to how they will come together and group into a Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) that is coming on. I believe a similar window of opportunity has also been given by the African Union to such civil society.
Mr. Speaker, as I said, I must reiterate that I am very happy about the level of discussions that we have witnessed; and it is for both - as I said, good things should happen. And for now we may not be expecting too much from the African Union but the African Union is on the right path and we must give it all the support that it needs.
Mr. Haruna Iddrisu (NDC - Tamale South) 11:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I rise to associate myself with the brilliant Statement commemorating African Union Day.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by saying that it is with regret that many Africans suffer from what I would call a crisis of identity. Indeed, as Africans, we
are the only generation of people who have suffered three traumatic events in a row - slavery, colonialism and continuing global racism. It is only Africans who have gone through these traumatic experiences in our history as a continent. But as we do so, indeed, while the whole world is moving towards integration and continental unification, sadly enough, Africa only symbolizes a continent of poverty, a continent of conflict and a continent of deprivation.
Indeed, reference was made to the Millennium Development Goals. Mr. Speaker, we have achieved little, indeed, very little in terms of ensuring access of African people to quality education, quality healthcare and, indeed, even in reducing poverty, which remains the bane of our continent.
But Mr. Speaker, may I take this opportunity to congratulate the current leader of the AU, His Excellency the President of Nigeria, President Obasanjo for his forthright leadership. Indeed, but for his maturity our neighbour, Togo, would have been plunged into violent conflict. But for the stance that he took in ensuring that democracy was not only beautiful for Ghana but - Indeed, he re- echoed the words of the former President of this Republic, Dr. kwame Nkrumah when he said that, “The independence of Ghana is meaningless…”. It means that democracy within Ghana today is meaningless if our neighbours in Togo do not share the benefits of fundamental freedoms and human rights. On that note I commend him.
May I also commend Tony Blair, the Prime Minister of Britain for his wonderful initiative, a Commission for Africa. Indeed, I am told that just recently a group of some personalities were invited from Ghana for a discussion
on the implementation of his blueprint in ensuring that poverty indeed was fought, ensuring that there were sachets of good governance that were effective. And more importantly, we look forward to a mutual marriage between the implementation of his policy and that of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD).
But Mr. Speaker, if you go through economic records, we have not been able to achieve any economic independence. The hon. Minister for Foreign Affairs made reference to apartheid and the fact that South Africa was now independent. Mr. Speaker, that belongs to history; it is over a decade ago. We have seen former. President Mandela play his role; he exited. President Mbeki, played his role; he exited. But the challenges confronting Africa is how its people can access quality education; how its people can establish democratic structures that are durable and sustainable.
On this note, Mr. Speaker, I would like to associate myself with the Statement and as we commemorate African Union Day we should do more to strengthen the bonds of integration and unity. It is with regret that only two years ago we were told that under one of its constituent organs, ECOWAS, if we were able to meet the convergence criteria we could establish the basis for a second monetary union in West Africa. Regrettably, Mr. Speaker, we have had to postpone this particular agenda to the year 2009 because our countries cannot ensure prudence in the management of our economies.
While I associate myself with this Statement I think African leaders need to do more to ensure that their peoples have access to education and, in fact, do not abandon the vision of our founding fathers. I do not think that we have done enough.
If you take the United States of America, it is a symbol of continental unification and I suspect strongly that that was the vision that Dr. kwame Nkrumah had for Ghana. Regrettably, but for the needless overthrow of his regime - whether it was a conspiracy by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and whatever agents, the fact is that he was violently overthrown.
Mr. Speaker, with these comments I associate myself with the Statement.
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 11:35 a.m.
Hon. Member for Tarkwa Nsuaem and then the hon. Member for Ho East.
Mrs. Gifty Eugenia Kusi (NPP - Tarkwa Nsuaem) 11:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the Statement on the floor.
Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt that our continent, Africa, has come a long way.
Mr. Speaker, the adage, “Unity is Strength” is manifest this way, where Africans have come together from the Organization of African Unity (OAU) to the African Union (AU).
Mr. Speaker, I would want to be optimistic. I think that we cannot always cry over what we have not been able to achieve. The fact that we have even been able to identify some of our problems and we are prepared to sit down and discuss them, I think, is a very good thing. And since Rome was not built in a day, Africa will one day rise up to the stars.
Mr. Speaker, poverty, which has affected our continent, is a fundamental issue in the realization of our human rights.
Mrs. Juliana Azumah-Mensah (NDC - Ho East) 11:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to add my voice to the Statement on the floor, on the celebration of African Day that comes off tomorrow.
Mr. Speaker, I would wish to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the founding members of the Union and, indeed, put on record the contributions of our First President, Osagyefo Dr. kwame Nkrumah in encouraging and supporting other African countries to attain their political independence.
Mr. Speaker, decades after its formation, the organization has made great strides in the fight to promote the good of the continent.
Mr. Speaker, the successes notwith- standing, the Union is still struggling to make the needed impact.
Mr. Speaker, the continuing civil wars, hunger and starvation and political instability on the continent are not allowing our continent to move forward economically.
Mr. Speaker, the continued strong influence on the African continent of our colonial masters is not helping the case. Africa must be ready to play the front role in solving its problems, especially in the area of peacekeeping on the continent.
Mr. Speaker, because the western countries would always want to protect their own interests, we cannot be fully certain of their neutrality or the stand they take in this aspect. Mr. Speaker, Africans or African countries must therefore take charge of their own destiny; and this is the time to do so.
As women, it is important that the AU also recognizes the immense role women play in the advancement of their countries and on the continent as a whole, and involve them appropriately in the work of the AU.
Mr. Speaker, on this note, I would wish all governments and the people of all African countries a happy anniversary.
Long live Africa and long live the AU.
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 11:35 a.m.
Hon. Members, that will bring us to the end of Statements and contributions thereon. We thank the hon. Minister for Foreign Affairs for making that Statement and all other hon. Members who contributed towards it. Tomorrow we shall have a pleasant and memorable occasion to celebrate the African Day.
Hon. Members, it appears we do not have any other business for the day. In the circumstance, we call on the Leadership to advise the Chair as to what to do.
Mr. Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, we, indeed, have exhausted the agenda for the day, at the plenary, but there are other businesses - committee sittings. There are two important committee sittings,
the Committee on Local Government and Rural Development and Committee on Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs.
Mr. Speaker, I understand they have very important meetings after we adjourn and having exhausted the agenda, I would accordingly beg to move with your kind indulgence, that this House stands adjourned until Thursday next at 10.00 o'clock in the forenoon.
Mr. John Tia 11:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I second the motion.
Question put and motion agreed to.
ADJOURNMENT 11:35 a.m.

  • The House was accordingly adjourned at 11.45 a.m. till 26th May 2005 at 10.00 a.m.