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.