The Progressive Peoples Party(PPP) has watched, listened and analysed the recent events in the Country as it relates to the present impasse in Government and have the following to contribute.
The Progressive Peoples Party have argued that Members of Parliament should not become appointees of the Executive as Ministers of State, Members of Government Boards or holders of any other public office. We should amend article 78 and prevent Ministers from becoming MPs and vice versa. Strict separation of the Executive from the Legislature will improve our Governance system. We are of the view that this will strengthen Parliament’s ability to check the excessive powers of the Executive as exist in the current Constitution. People contest to become Members of Parliament only to catch the eye of the Executive to gain an appointment to hold offices. The real work of Parliament then becomes a secondary matter.
This view has been shared by many including the Present Speaker of Parliament Rt. Honorable Albin Bagbin, Immediate past Speaker, Honorable Professor Mike Ocquaye, present Majority Leader Osei Kyei Mensah and Minority Leader, Honorable Haruna Iddrisu, & Honorable Dr Papa Kwesi Nduom.
There is a general acceptance that the system in its present form does not work. It would be routine for the Executive to respect the Legislature in decision making and ensure good governance for the people when article 78 is amended. This has not been the case as the Executive continues to have its way without any meaningful opposition from Parliament as a whole with particular reference to the Majority. The Majority leader is appointed by the President as a Minister for Parliamentary affairs. How can he pose as a real independent leader against Government affairs for which he is a part of and sits in cabinet. This is an anomaly.
It takes extraordinary moments in time for Parliamentarians (as a collective) to become awaken to their responsibilities of checking the excesses of the Executive.
Case in point is a recent pronouncement by “80 majority members” giving ultimatum to President Nana Akuffo Addo to sack the Finance Minister and Minister of State at the Ministry of Finance. They state that the President must sack his cousin the Finance Minister for mismanaging the economy of Ghana among other charges. Failure to do so, the group claim they will not approve matters relating to Government business and therefore the budget. Is it because the executive has not listened nor accepted an earlier call from same majority side of Parliament for the President to reshuffle his Ministerial team including the Finance Minister?
The PPP wish to remind Ghanaians that such a situation happened during the Third Republican Parliament of Ghana in 1980. The then Parliament refused to pass a budget presented by Professor George Benneh, the then Minister for Finance under Hilla Limann’s PNP Administration. Parliament was made up of 140 members. The PNP had 71 seats, PFP 42 seats, UNC 13 seats, ACP 10 seats, SDF 3 seats and 1 Independent candidate. (Notice how Ghanaians were more tolerate of other political parties. To be revisited at another time). The total seats in opposition were 69 seats. Clearly, the majority had the numbers to pass the budget. However, the budget presented was rejected by Parliament.
The rejection of that budget set sail a series of negative activities which brought further hardship on Ghanaians until we entered into the 4th Republican Constitution.
The PPP wish to remind Ghanaians that the Constitution needs to be reviewed to limit the unbridled power of the Executive. It will also allow Leaders to take decisions early enough as to not put us at dangerous crossroads.
Failure to deal with the present impasse in a timely manner can take Ghana down a very dark and dangerous road. Ghana does not need a 5th Republican Constitution.
Nana Ofori Owusu
Progressive People’s Party