10 January 2013

Ghana: Controversy Over Mahama's Appointments

The processes used by President John Mahama in retaining the various substantive ministers, including Regional Ministers and non-career Ambassadors in their respective positions as caretakers came under Parliamentary scrutiny with a cross section of members raising some objections about the said processes.

The minority side, led by the Member for Akwapim North, William Ofori Boafo, in seeking the directive of the Speaker on the above mentioned issue, said the President's action was an affront to the provisions of the Presidential Transition Act, Act 864.

According to the veteran politician, the President in a statement issued on Tuesday and published in a cross section of the media directed substantive ministers, Regional Ministers and non-career Ambassadors to remain at post as caretakers. Such directive, he noted, was wrong, since the Presidential Transition Act says otherwise.

"Mr. Speaker, I realized that a statement issued from the Office of the President indicated that the President has directed some Ministers and others, including Regional Ministers, Ambassadors and so forth, are to continue in office subject to a caveat that they are not required to take decisions in respect to policies.

Mr. Speaker, the tenure of section 14 (2) of the Presidential Transition Act indicates that the exercise to be undertaken by the President should not be by directives, but by appointments. And the period must also be specified in writing," he noted.

He added: "Mr. Speaker, if the exercise which has been carried out by the President is correct, then Mr. Speaker, I am afraid that it is not in conformity with Section 14(2) of the Presidential Transition Act, Act 845.

The Speaker, Rt. Hon. Edward Doe Adjaho, in his ruling over the matter, said the issue raised by the member for Akwapim North was relevant and should be considered by the House as such.

He said though the statement from the Office of the President "used the word appointment", the House was yet to receive such communication from the presidency.

He then directed the Majority Leader, Dr. Benjamin Kumbuor to furnish the House with the caretaker Ministers, "so that this House will know who to deal with, when it comes to those respective ministries."

Commenting on the Speaker's ruling, the Minority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said the "Chair couldn't have been wiser than its ruling." He reaffirmed the claim of the member for Akwapim North, insisting that the directive by the president should be in the form of appointment, "just to show that we know the terms of appointment and the period it will last. Because, Parliament in exercising its oversight responsibility requires to know this."

However, the Majority Leader was of different view on the said matter. He told the House that there was a mode of communication to the House by the government.

"Mr. Speaker, because we are in the House of records, it is important that we state clearly what we do and what we say here. I am sure honourable members are aware of the acceptable mode of communication by the government to this House.

"You can get information from any other source but until the Speaker tells us that there is a communication from the government to the House to do the normal processes, let's be a bit a circumspect in terms of accuracy and inaccuracy and the attributions that we make," he averred.

He said, the House considers any information stating the government's position on a matter through the media as "substitute information," and promised that his outfit would seek the proper particulars from the government "to tell us what exactly the communication was."

His reaction provoked a debate between him and the Minority Leader, as to what an official publication or document was. But the Speaker, in a swift response, argued that both were right with their argument.

Hon. Minority Leader, both of you are right on this issue. With official document, you are right but in terms of official communication to this House, the Majority Leader too is right," he ruled. Sitting has been adjourned to today.

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