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Asokwa MP wants constitutional review for stringent legislative oversight duties

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Member of Parliament for the Asokwa wants a review of a section of the Parliamentary Act which mandates the President to appoint a majority of Ministers of State from parliament.

Patricia Appiagyei believes the current law on ministerial appointments as provided in Article 78 clause 1 does not allow the Legislature to conduct oversight duties to properly demand accountability from the Executive.

According to the legislator, the law, coupled with politicization of issues of national interest and financial challenges encountered by the Legislature, restrict a definite separation of powers.

Her comment comes at the heels of the 2022 Africa Open Parliament Index (OPI) which ranked Ghana’s parliament as the best amongst 13 countries in Africa but scored lowest points in terms of Public Accountability.

Article 78 (1) of Ghana’s 1992 constitution provides that Ministers of State shall be appointed by the President with the prior approval of Parliament from among members of Parliament or persons qualified to be elected as members of Parliament, except that the majority of Ministers of State shall be appointed from among members of Parliament.

Patricia Appeagyei says the dual responsibility of parliamentarians who double as Ministers of State affects perfect execution of their duties.

She believes a well-resourced parliament could hold the Executive to task.

“You cannot scrutinise the activities of the various sectors to their perfection because you overseeing this responsibility will at the same time go to these ministers for favours from such institutions. When Ex-President Kuffour was leaving office, one of the suggestions he made was for us to ensure separation of powers works within our governance system. If a minister is not a member of parliament and we are seriously overseeing their activities and we are adequately resourced, there no way we cannot oversee their activities with a lens that would ensure accountability,” she said.

The former Kumasi Mayor also decried the partisanship of national issues on the floor of parliament which she argues affects the implementation of policies beneficial to the country.

She says over-politicization during parliamentary proceedings hampers the execution of the primary functions of the legislature.

Demands by party faithful and some citizens during electioneering are also a worry for the legislator.

“You go out there and all that people will be requesting from you is money. So by the time you’re done with your elections you are indebted. How can this situation not make a parliamentarian incorruptible? We as a people must change our attitudes,” she said.

Open Parliamentary Index

Ghana’s Parliament was ranked first among thirteen African countries in the 2022 Africa Open Parliament report by the joint work of the Africa Parliamentary Monitoring Organisations Working Group.

Garnering an overall score of 63.03 per cent based on Transparency, Civic participation and Public Accountability, the country beat its closest contender Cape Verde, which managed a 61.86 per cent and Sierra Leone, that scored 57.97 per cent.

However, Ghana scored lowest on public accountability with 14.32 per cent out of 30 per cent while it scored highest in the transparency category with 27.71 per cent out of the 35 per cent allotted to that category.

It scored 21 per cent for civic participation out of 35 per cent total scores for that area.

The Africa OPI comprises popular parliamentary monitoring organisations, namely; Mzalendo Trust (Kenya); Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana); and Parliamentary Monitoring Group (South Africa).

The others included; the Africa Parliamentary Press Network (APPN); the Pan African Parliament Civil Society Forum, which is coordinated by the Centre for Human Rights of the University of Pretoria, and Parliamentary Network Africa.

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