Majority Leader and Minister-designate for Parliamentary Affairs, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, has made a case for the total overhaul of Ghana’s 1992 Constitution, citing what he said were anomalies that have brought about lack of trust among political parties.
Citing the appointment of the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, for instance, which the Constitution mandates the president to do without recourse to Parliament or the political parties, Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said that processes ought to have been made consultative so that all parties would have an input.
“When President Mahama had to bring in Charlotte Osei in place of Afari Gyan who had retired, my position at the time was that we should have the President submit the names for us [Parliament] to subject it to prior approval. [By so doing] the President would be forced to be more consultative in the appointment than usually is the case.
“Today, the Chairperson of the Commission and Commissioners who were appointed by President Akufo-Addo are undermined because of lack of trust.”
“The NDC thinks that because the current commissioners were introduced by President Akufo-Addo’s regime, they believe that they cannot trust them. Just as we thought Charlotte Osei’s Commission could not be trusted,” he stated at the Appointments Committee of Parliament in Accra on Friday.
In his view, there are many gray areas in the constitution that affects general governance and the workings of the legislature.
“I believe there should be a holistic review of the constitution. We are in Parliament, we have applied the constitution and indeed we apply it on daily basis and we know the weaknesses that confront us in many areas including the process of amending the constitution.
“The constitution is sometimes a bit confused on what to do when we (legislators) have to abridge the process,” the seven term lawmaker for Suame stated.
A national discussion that scrutinises some critical issues in the 1992 constitution will be the way forward for Ghana, the longest serving MP in the current House said.
Secondly, Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, a known advocate for longevity in Parliament bemoaned what he thought was the high attrition rate of experienced hands from the House, urging that measures be put in place to stop the peeling off.
This phenomenon, he thinks, is as a result of the monetisation of Ghana’s politics, which the political parties must help address.
“Not until the parties confront this reality, it will be difficult to stop the high attrition rate.”
Referencing the seventh Parliament where some senior members like Wa West MP, Joseph Yieleh Chireh, Mark Assibey-Yeboah, New Juaben South, Inusah Fuseini, Tamale Central, Ben Abdallah, Offinso South, amongst others could not return, either voluntarily or voted out, the Suame legislator said Parliament at the end of the day was the loser.
He also intimated that the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs is critical to serve as a link between the Executive and the Legislature for good governance.
“It is absolutely important to have a Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs because 95 per cent of public business in Parliament is government business. You need the leader of government business in order to persuade his colleagues on a good policy that must be supported by Parliament.
“You need the Parliamentary Affairs Minister to be in Cabinet, where policy evolves to appreciate the underpinnings of any policy so that when he comes to Parliament to lead the business of the House, he will then be able to get the buy-in of his colleagues.”