The Progressive People’s Party (PPP) has declared today, December 7, the Fix the Constitution Day.
This is in accordance with their goal to “remind Ghanaians of the need to conduct a surgical operation on the 1992 constitution to make it a development and people-oriented constitution for the Republic of Ghana.”
In a statement delivered by the 1st Vice Chairman of the Party, Felix William Ograh, he said with the current “dictatorial, winner takes all, constitution which allows for create, loot and share by all parties that have been in power since 1992; the future does not look exciting.”
The Party has thus highlighted five key areas in the 1992 Constitution which need to be immediately amended before the 2024 General Elections.
These are the elections of the MMDCEs, a total separation of powers, a separation of the Office of the Attorney-General from the Ministry of Justice, the introduction of a Public Declaration of Assets Regime, and the clarification of the eligibility of Ghanaians in the Diaspora to hold Public Office.
Election of MMDCEs
According to the PPP, the current regime where MMDCEs are appointed instead of elected, greatly undermines the tenets of democracy upon which the republican status of Ghana was established.
They say this has led to the reduction of the office of the Chief Executive Officer of the various Municipal Districts to mere trophies to be won by Party cronies who could neither become MPs nor Ministers of State.
“It is therefore not surprising, as their tradition, to see the current General Secretary of the ruling Party travelling around the country to conduct the so-called vetting of applicants mostly, party foot soldiers, who have applied to become MMDCEs.
“When did a political party become a substitute for the established Public Services Commission for the vetting and appointments of candidates to occupy public office?”
They stated that the election of MMDCEs will “ensure that all the resources allocated by the Constitution through the District Assembly Common Fund are demanded by the elected officers and sent to the districts promptly for local development. In addition, it will ensure local accountability, elimination of corruption, and rapid development.”
The PPP intimates that the aborted referendum by the ruling Party on whether MMDCEs should be elected on a partisan basis or not was a coup d’etat against the people of Ghana by the political class.
“The question of a partisan election of MMDCEs or otherwise can only be answered by Ghanaians at a referendum. So no one can sit in Accra and deny Ghanaians that opportunity under the pretext of a certain lack of consensus. How else can you know the position of Ghanaians on this matter other than through a referendum?”
A total separation of powers
The PPP is demanding an amendment of Article 78(1) of the 1992 Constitution.
According to the Party, the current mixed Westminster-Presidential regime has hampered Parliament’s ability to exact accountability from the Executive on behalf of the Ghanaian people.
They explained that due to the Constitution’s demand that half of all Ministers and Deputy Ministers be appointed from Parliament, “every Member of Parliament looks up to the President for a ministerial appointment and therefore their immediate priority is not to check the government against malfeasance but to catch the eye of the President for an appointment.”
The Party states that the practice has blurred the lines of checks and balances, resulting in “a compromised parliament which is obviously ineffective in scrutinizing the activities of the Executive to guarantee the judicious application of the nation’s resources.”
“It is our position that if a Member of Parliament is appointed as a Minister or accept any other appointment by the President, then he/she must resign his seat before taking up the appointment. People seeking to become public officers must choose to either become part of the Legislature or the Executive,” the PPP said.
Separate Office of Attorney-General from Ministry of Justice
The PPP is also demanding an amendment of Article 88 to separate the Office of the Attorney-General from the Ministry of Justice.
This is to ensure that the Attorney General does not become a Minister of State nor a member of government.
“We believe that making the Attorney-General a Minister of State compromises his or her ability to fight and prosecute political corruption. The failure of the Special Prosecutor’s Office and its lack of independence is clear to the Ghanaian electorate by now,” the PPP stated.
“We are calling for a truly independent Attorney General (i.e. the Independent Public Prosecutor) whose budget will be sanctioned by Parliament without any ministerial interference.
“No amount of political spinning and propaganda can make the current OSP independent of the Attorney-General and by extension independent of the Executive,” they added.
The Party is thus demanding that the Attorney-General be elected through Mid-term elections of an elected government.
“The people’s prosecutor will be elected on a different electoral cycle, preferably during the mid-term of an elected government. The Independent Public Prosecutor (IPP) will be given vast prosecutorial powers with guaranteed tenure, independence, and adequate funding directly from Parliament to go after corrupt government officials. The government’s own lawyer will be the Minister of Justice,” they explained.
Public declaration of assets
The PPP is demanding a sufficient assets declaration regime to fight corruption.
They say this would be achieved after the amendments of Article 286(1) and 286(3).
“We believe that the current process where the Assets Declaration forms and its contents are concealed is laughable and ironic. How do you declare and hide something at the same time?”
They added that the Constitution Review Commission recommendation that public officers engaged in false declaration should face criminal prosecution should be activated.
“We need to confront political corruption head on if we want to safeguard this last attempt at constitutional democracy. Public declaration of assets should be the minimum threshold for any aspiring public office holder to meet as a condition to hold in trust massive public assets and resources of the republic.
“If you cannot declare your relatively “small” assets to the citizens, then you have no right to take charge of huge public assets,” they stressed.
Ghanaians in the diaspora
“Ghanaian citizens are Ghanaian citizens whether they hold dual nationality or not,” this is according to the PPP who are calling for an amendment of Article 94(2)(a) to allow dual citizens to occupy public offices.
According to the Party, there is no justification “whatsoever to deny our kith and kin such rights, when they pour into our economy huge sums of foreign exchange by way of remittances to family and friends.”
They added that “We should also be reminded that on many occasions we have sought and continue to seek the expertise and skills of Ghanaians in the diaspora in the area of sports, medicine, engineering, finance, academia, international relations, economic development, and other wide range of consultancy services in different areas of our national life.”
‘We shall not relent’
The PPP is resolved to ensure these demands are met before the 2024 elections.
“We have deployed our regional teams to storm local radio/TV Stations and repeat this message to ensure that the Executive and the Legislature hear this message and understand it. We shall not relent but continue to press on this all-important demand,” the Party stated.
They stressed that the huge amount of money invested in the Constitutional Review exercise should not go to waste.
“It shall remain a scar on the conscience of right thinking Ghanaians if these fundamental changes and many other brilliant recommendations contained in the CRC’s report continue to gather dust,” they said.
They added that “We owe it to ourselves and the next generation to secure and safeguard our democracy, and that can only be achieved through these amendments. We remain Awake until these amendments are brought to fruition.”
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