Anchoring Democracy Advocacy Movement Ghana (ADAM-GH) has called on Civil society organizations, Media, Opinion leaders and all Ghanaians to help the Speaker of parliament Rt. Hon. Kingsford Sumana Bagbin to protect Ghana’s bragging rights as a beacon of Democracy in Africa from the current happenings.
ADAM-GH is a civil society organization that anchors proper democratic principles, ensures good governance, fights corruption and protects fundamental human rights.
ADAM-GH made the call after its meeting with the Speaker of parliament on June 16, 2022.
According to the group, the Finance minister Hon. Ken Ofori Atta and Electoral commissioner Madam Jean Mensah have refused to appear before parliament and render an account for money given to them by the state for their activities.
This according to ADAM-GH is not just undermining the Speaker of parliament but Ghana’s Democracy and the constitution adding that Ghanaians should not sit down and allow the Speaker alone to face these two state agencies whose actions suggest they are above the laws of the country.
The further call on all Ghanaians to rise for the country and demand proper accountability of the covid-19 expenses and the amount used to produce the worst form of voters register.
The group stated that, Ghanaians are suffering today with high cost of living, high taxes associated to covid-19 effects including E-levy adding that the finance minister can not run away from accountability especially when there are allegations from high profile members of the governing party saying that the covid-19 money was shared amongst party Executives but all Ghanaians are paying for its effects.
The Finance minister Hon Ken Ofori Atta amongst other things they said must account for the covid-19 expenses for Ghanaians to know how the money was spent and end up bringing hardship to entire Ghanaians including E-levy.
‘We want to know why Madam Jean Mensah also brought a package proposal of providing a robust biometric register with facial recognitions which supersedes the then current biometric register and end up providing worse voters register since 1992′ they asked.
The group revealed its readiness to partner parliament to improve the country’s democratic gains.
Below is the discussions went on between Speaker and the CSOs:
SPEAKER OF PARLIAMENT RT. HON. KINGSFORD SUMANA BAGBIN MET WITH CSOs TO DISCUSS THE NEED FOR PARLIAMENT TO PARTNER WITH CSOS INSTEAD OF REGULAR ENGAGEMENT.
In a meeting with Civil society organizations CSOs the Speaker of parliament Rt. Hon Kingsford Sumana Bagbin emphasis the need to formalize the engagement of CSO with parliament to Partnership to strengthen the functions of parliament. Taping on the knowledge of CSOs to enhance parliamentary business, research intelligence, build resilient economy etc etc. Parliament working on standing orders that is focusing on winning winner takes all systems and making it difficult for a system like this where we have hung parliament or in future where we will have a majority in Parliament belonging to the opposition party. Currently staff working in the Speaker’s office are temporary workers, no proper transition from one Speaker to another the need for transitional act. According to the Speaker we only have parliamentary service board which does not, including: health services, fire, police, national security etc. Unlike other nations where we have parliamentary commission, too much powers is given to the speaker doing almost everything until he decide to ask deputy Speakers take over. Courage of speakers where deputy Speakers have their core mandate fully describe is not practice in Ghana the need to implement it.
Create a parliamentary commission act needed to support the speaker. The Speaker said the budget act is almost ready and he is now going through it to okay it. Politicization that interferes with parliamentary standing orders is the main problem. Retirement age at 60 needs to be looked at and time of starting work, a situation whereby after first degree or masters and you are 50 years meaning you are going to work for only 10 years and go home with that knowledge acquired. Affirmative action bill of 30 percent needs to be looked at according to population and housing sensuous women are more than men and also disability amendment bill. The country moved away from geographical based constituencies to social based constituencies where the aged, security, and sensitive areas need to be looked at and not left out. Too many powers given to the Executive where the president appoints and disappoints corrupt state institutions and turn them to party wings of government, Chief directors can not have their own independence, Judges, Auditor’s General, Electoral commission etc etc. non profit organization bills need to be looked at. The image of parliament being soiled due to members of parliament’s code of conduct which has eaten deeply into the democratic gains in the country. Now People especially the youth wish there’s coup d’etat over this current Democracy because they hardly differentiate between Democratic governance and military governance but the Speaker advice those youth that, the older generation with negative experience of military dictatorship will never wish for coup d’etat, he said those youth who are calling for coup d’etat should wait until they the older generation to go before they start it. The worst democracy governance is better than the best coup d’etat.
The Speaker spoke about the weaknesses of the system where members of parliament are given additional responsibilities as ministers which directly affect their parliamentary business.
The questions asked by one of the CSOs ADAM-GH said: What happens for citizens or the youth to be wishing for a coup d’etat meanwhile Democracy is supposed to be for the people, is it because the youth can not differentiate between Democratic governance and military governance currently?
What do we do to rebuild the confidence of our youth in Ghana’s Democracy?
How do we change the monetization of our elections and make sure we know the funding source of every political party?
The Speaker raised concern on the high cost involved before one becomes a member of parliament, a Civil servant coming to politics today must at least come with one million Ghana cedis before serving his/her people or he should forget.
There is the need to review the 1992 constitution, the
values, ethics, code of conduct of parliamentarians should be guided. The Speaker said the moment one becomes a traditional leader or chief even if he was gutters cleaner his code of conduct changes immediately as chief and traditional leader but our MPs code of conduct is uncalled for.
Ghana needs to work with a parliamentary network in Africa and across the globe. Parliamentary diplomacy is not the individual but the Institutions.
The Auditor General is an official of parliament who reports to parliament he should not be appointed by the president.
Common funds are not common these days and getting funds is difficult to get. There’s now ways and means committees in Parliament. The Speaker warned the electoral commission and said if the EC failed to come to parliament to account for the money spent creating a worse voter register, meanwhile they came to parliament with a proposal to provide a very good biometric register. No budget will be approved for EC if they fail to appear before parliament. The Speaker said he heard the EC woman daring parliament that parliament can not direct the EC on its functions but the Speaker said accountability is not interfering into their functions she must account.
The Speaker also asked the finance minister to come to parliament and account for the covid-19 stimulus package or no budget approval. He said effort made to get the finance minister account to the nation the covid-19 expenses has proven futile and no budget will be approved for that ministry until they render an account.
He said the state needed to set up MPs’ offices in every constituency different from their party offices.
It should be owned by the state, having staff paid by the state but not the MPs.
ADAM-GH as a civil society organization that anchors proper democratic principles, we support the call by the speaker that the Electoral commission and the Finance minister must appear before parliament and account to the nation before any budget is approved for them.
We are also ready to partner parliament to enhance our democratic gains in the country as stated by the Speaker.
AZUBILA EMMANUEL ABDUL-SALAM
Executive secretary ADAM-GH.