By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

You would have thought that the former Works and Housing Minister under the tenure of the Kufuor-led government of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) would have some shame in cynically attempting to stall the salutary development of Ghanaian democracy.

But that is not the Hackman Owusu-Agyemang that my late father knew from their residential days at Commonwealth Hall, the University of Ghana, in the 1960s. My old man vividly remembered the former operative of the UN-sponsored Food And Agriculture Organization (FAO) as the consummate “Hall Clown,” and never ceased to wonder how President John Agyekum-Kufuor could have brought himself to knighting him as one of his inner-circle members.

And true to form, character and temperament, Mr. Owusu-Agyemang continues to studiously act and play the part. At the recent Institute of Economic Affairs-sponsored Constitutional Review Workshop, for example, the New-Juaben NPP-Member of Parliament was reported to have vehemently argued against the proposition of having all cabinet appointees divorced from or named outside parliament as a means of enhancing both the integrity and independence of the legislature, and thus meeting the fundamental credo of the separation of powers among the three traditional branches of democratic governance (See “IEA’s WTA Committee Proposes Formula For Selecting Political Leaders” / 7/8/15).

It scandalously seems not to be of any great concern to the New Juaben native, the fact that the dual role of cabinet appointees who also serve as parliamentarians continues to considerably and unduly interfere with the progress of legislative work. Maybe somebody ought to educate Mr. Owusu-Agyemang about the fact that the “independence”of the legislature is not synonymous with the “alienation” of the legislature from the executive arm of government. And yet, sad to say, it is people like Mr. Owusu-Agyemang who were recently teary-eyed over the fact that too many of the most “experienced” MPs from his party were booted off their seats in the latest NPP parliamentary primaries.

I perfectly agree with the IEA Advisory Committee’s proposition that any MP who gets appointed to a ministerial position ought to promptly resign from the House. But even more significantly, the IEA Advisory Committee ought to have also called for the election of all regional ministers and municipal and district chief executives. This is the most effective way of ensuring a balance of power in a serious and healthily functional democratic culture. This is also the most progressive way of ending the flagrantly corrupt and cronyistic regime of WTA – or Winner-Takes- All – that forward-looking statesmen and women like Justice Emile Short and Dr. Rose Mensah-Kutin have been advocating.

I, however, vehemently disagree with the proposal advocating for the setting aside of some 75 parliamentary seats to be proportionately divvied up among operatives of the minority parties. That is not a progressive way of enhancing democratic governance anywhere in the world, even less so in Ghana. All parliamentary seats, without exception, must be fought for and squarely won in the polling booth. What is more, a close scrutiny of the nature and ideological thrust of these so-called minority parties clearly indicates that they are mostly splinter groups of the two major political parties, namely, the National Democratic Congress and the New Patriotic Party – actually, largely from the NDC/CPP – whose leaders broke away primarily on the basis of power struggle, and not on any significant ideological differences.

I would, however, perfectly endorse set-aside seats for genuine and authentic Special-Interest Groups like societies/associations for the disabled and the culturally marginalized, and not megalomaniacal politicians and political operatives who have absolutely no significant and meaningful agenda other than simply craving for power and undeserved access to the taxpayer’s money and our national resources.


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