Friday, June 12, 2009

The CPP @ 60

On the 12th June 1949 before a crowd of 60,000 people, at Arena in Accra, the Convention People’s Party (CPP) was born. Among its main aims and objectives was:
• To achieve and maintain independence for the people of Ghana
• To secure and maintain complete unity of the people of the Colony, Ashanti, Northern Territories and Trans Volta/Togoland regions.
• To work in the interest of the Trade Union Movement.
• To work for a better Ghana in which the people and their Chiefs shall have the right to live and govern themselves as a free people.Many are saying on this day “AYEKOO “CPP for achieving and maintaining independence, maintaining unity of all our people, with our chiefs and people we live and govern ourselves as free people. For championing the cause of workers.Growing public dissatisfaction with the NPP Government but a lack of confidence in returning the NDC to office lead to a less than emphatic win by the NDC in the December 2008 elections. In 6 months the NDC has deepened public disillusion leading once again to many looking again at the CPP for answers and for hope.The task of building hope in our country comes from educating a new generation about what a party dedicated to the people can achieve.The 6oth Anniversary of the birth of the CPP offers the opportunity to look at our history and to derive strength from that history.The CPP established branches throughout Ghana and set about trying to win independence for the people of Ghana in 1949.Together with the Trade Union Congress it organized a mass gathering which became known as the “Ghana Representative Assembly”. The assembly passed a resolution that “the people of the Gold Coast be granted immediate self-government by the British Government…”The CPP attracted mass following and in the 1950 municipal elections in the major cities – Accra, Cape Coast and Kumasi, the CPP posted stunning victories.In the General Election of February 1951, the CPP maintained its success and support among the people winning the directly elected urban seats with ten times as many votes as those of the combined opposition. In the 33 rural seats elected indirectly through electoral colleges, the CPP obtained 29 seats with the UGCC managing only 3 seats. In the two member constituency of Akim Abuakwa, Dr JB Danquah and William Ofori Atta barely won their seats, 95-85 and 87-83 respectively. Dr K.A Busia lost in his seat.The CPP launched its First Development Plan for Ghana for August 1951 to June 1957 and by 1955 had began to transform the country with the following:
• Primary School enrolment doubled Middle school enrolment increased by 50%
• Built 9 new Teacher Training Colleges and 18 new Secondary Schools.
• Regional Libraries for Kumasi and Sekondi
• 18 Agricultural Stations, 11 Cocoa stations, 4 Agricultural Training Centers, soil surveys over hundreds of square miles.
• 940 wells and 62 bore holes sunk.
• 38 miles of new railways, with 50 miles under construction, 828miles of major roads built or reconstructed, 2 major bridges built and 60 smaller bridges completed, 4 further major bridges under construction including the Adomi Bridge.
• Takoradi Harbour expanded, Tema Harbour under construction.
• Okomfo Anokye Hospital under construction and extensions to 15 existing hospitals.
• 270 miles of overhead telephone trunk routes and 140 miles of underground cables, 13 new post office buildings completed.
• Increase in electricity output from 32000Kw to 51000kw.
• The Ghana library established in Accra.The first all directly held elections took place on 19th June 1954 and the CPP won 72 out of the 104 seats. The GCP (The UGCC) secured only 1 seat. Dr JB Danquah and Mr. William Ofori-Atta lost their seats. Dr K.A Busia won his seat by 11 votes. In August 1954 the CPP introduced in Parliament the Cocoa Duty and Development Funds Bill. The Bill was opposed by Farmers who wanted a higher share of world cocoa prices. Disgruntled opposition elements hijacked the farmer’s legitimate protests and used it to foment violence in which many people were maimed or killed. Out of this violence emerged a new group the National Liberation Movement (NLM) lead by Baffour Osei Akoto, the chief Linguist of the Asantehene. The NLM raided CPP offices in Ashanti using violence indiscriminately. The CPP office in the region was forced to close. By 1955 850 cases of assault had been reported in Kumasi alone.The CPP had to go to the polls again only 2 years after the 1954 poll and in June 1956 recorded another impressive victory winning 71seats including 8 out of the 21 seats in the Ashanti. The CPP actually won 43% of the vote in Ashanti. The NLM failed to win a single seat outside Ashanti. Once again Dr Danquah failed to win his seat. The NLM refused to accept the results. After the 1956 elections the CPP on the 3rd August tabled a motion for independence in Parliament, the NLM members including Dr Busia walked out in protest but the motion was passed 72-0.The British Government announced that independence would follow on the 6th March 1957.The CPP then had to fight hard to maintain the unity of the country refusing to accept opposition demands for regional autonomy and that Ashanti’s borders are untouchable.The CPP asked the British Government to pay back a £200million “loan” that the British had arbitrarily taken from the Gold Coast by keeping part of our cocoa earnings in London to support the weak British pound. The repaid money was used for the development effort – Ghana paid 50% of the £70million pounds it cost to build the Akosombo Dam. Millions were invested in schools, roads, hospitals, farms and industries that became the hallmark of the CPP Government.The CPP’s second development Plan for Ghana was lunched for in July 1959 for 1959 to 1964 and aimed at achieving economic independence , developing resources to produce a strong, healthy and balanced economy, and to reduce economic vulnerability by reducing dependence on cocoa. The plan continued the transformation of our country thus:
• The CPP formed the Workers Brigade to absorb 12000 unemployed young men and women who also received training.
• The Ghana Academy of Sciences was formed to spearhead Research and Development in Ghana for modernization of Agriculture and industrialization using the country’s natural resources.
• Over 60 new factories were opened in 1961 including a distillery, a coconut oil factory, a brewery, a milk processing plant and a lorry and bicycle assembly plant.
• Agreements were signed for the establishment of an oil refinery, an iron and steel works in 1961.
• The Volta River Scheme was launched in 1961.
• Tema Harbour opened and started to operate in 1961.
• Valco was formed at £100m to establish an aluminium smelter at Tema in 1962Among the measures the CPP took to maintain Ghana’s unity and to preserve life, property and the security of the State was the Avoidance of Discrimination Act, (ADA) and the Preventive Detention Act 1958. (PDA) Despite the country’s undoubted progress the NLM had continued its violence, and over 5000 Ghanaians from Ashanti were exiled in other parts of the country due to NLM violence in the region. The ADA prohibited the establishment of political parties based solely on ethnic, racial or religious grounds. The act triggered the merger of the NLM, the Northern People’s Party (NPP), Togoland Congress and Ga Shifimo Kpee into a single opposition the United Party (UP). Many credit this act with sparing Ghana the kind of tribal violence that has destroyed other countries. Over 300 people had died from acts of terrorism and opposition violence and much credit the PDA with protecting the security of the state and saving many lives.The CPP third development plan for Ghana was launched for 1964 -1970 and dubbed the “Work and Happiness” programme.It meant to continue and consolidate the country’s development and progress thus:
• Foundation stone of the Atomic Reactor at Kwabenya was laid on 25th November 1964.
• Ground breaking ceremony of the Aluminium smelter at Tema on 5th December 1964
• Glass manufacturing Corporation at Aboso
• Cement works at Tema• Government Electronics industry at Tema
• Television Assembly Plant at Tema
• Numerous other industries across the country.The task that confronted the CPP in the 1940’s was daunting but through organisation and the support of ordinary people, it took on the might of the British Empire and triumphed. Political independence was achieved, but plans for economic independence carefully crafted by the CPP and rolled out through its successive development plans was interrupted, and then abandoned by governments since 1966. Today economic independence is still an illusion and the aim for most governments of Ghana, but after 17 years of NDC and NPP rule the question many are asking is, how long? , and can NDC or NPP ever deliver?A 60 year old CPP has faced many challenges in its history and overcome many. Today a new generation are beginning to man the CPP machinery in readiness for a new battle for the hearts and minds of Ghana. Many are hopeful that this great party is renewing itself and represents the hopes and aspirations of this generation.Happy Birthday CPP, arise to the task, your country needs thee.Communications Directorate CPP (UK & Ireland) www.

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