Justice Short Wants Ministers Appointed Outside Parliament

EMIL  SHORTS   2A former Commissioner of Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Justice Emile Short, has opposed the appointment of ministers from Parliament saying the practice is retrogressive and weakens parliamentary oversight over the Executive.

“This is because, in theory, the President can decide to appoint all his ministers from within parliament,” he added.

He made these remarks on Sunday during a discussion on the constitutional amendment process, with a former Chief of Staff, Nana Ato Dadzie and former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Ayikoi Otoo.

He said an issue that confronted the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) during its work, has been the President’s power to appoint his ministers from Parliament.

The government accepted the CRCs recommendation that the constitution should be amended to give the President a free hand to appoint ministers from within or without Parliament. Also, a person appointed as minister from Parliament should retain his or her seat in the house.

But experience has shown that it has been very difficult for a Member of Parliament (MP) to discharge in the House and as a minister of state.

Mr. Short recalled that, the Speaker of Parliament in recent times cautioned ministers who failed to appear before the House to answer questions on very pertinent issues confronting their sectors.

He noted that most of these MPs who double as ministers do not take part in deliberations on the floor of the Parliament.

Making reference to history, Ayikoi Otoo mentioned that former President Hilla Liman lost a budget proposal he sent to Parliament for approval because MPs boycotted sitting on the very critical financial policy for the state.

The MPs did so over unpaid allowances, and at the time, all of the President’s ministers were appointed from outside Parliament. The constitutional drafters then thought it wise to give the President an upper hand thereof.

The former Attorney-General added that, one benefit of this system is that, there were people who are willing to work as ministers of state and yet cannot go through the campaigning season with all its attendant violence and abuses.

“The President, with his freedom can then look through the field and bring on board, persons whose qualifications are equal to MPs because they will be a non-voting member of Parliament, and the idea is that, perhaps there are those very good people who can assist in running the country, yet may not want to go through rigorous politics.”

He however admitted that it has been a real problem because absenteeism in Parliament, has led to many adjournments of proceedings, and that many MPs hope to become ministers one day, therefore do not want to rock the boat.

Nana Ato Dadzie in his response cited the United Kingdom, where ministers are elected from Parliament, unlike the United States of America where ministers are selected outside Parliament.

The adoption of a hybrid system makes him wonder what kind of ministers the President would be appointing if the selection from Parliament lacked the competence and capability to run government business.

In his view appointments from Parliament, sometimes makes up the numbers.


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