Ghana Parliament
Ghana Parliament

Feature Article by Nana Akyea Mensah

 

Excuse me for the title, I originally intended to publish under, ?Is NPP Parliamentary Boycott Of President Constitutional??. The current one crossed my mind on second thought, which made me smile but wanted to ignore because, I thought even though it could attract a wider readership, it might be a rather crude summary of what I was up to. However, upon thinking thrice about it, I realized that it was not only a good idea but an urgent one, to introduce some form of punitive measures that hit them where it hurts most, inside their wallets! There is no legal justification for their boycott of their parliamentary duties and the breaching of their oaths of office. So, yes, in a sense, the title is a jest in earnest! I really mean to draw attention to the need for some punitive measures of significant pecuniary impact on those clowns parading as Members of Parliament. That is the only language they would understand. Such a measure could also save the tax payer paying expensive salaries for hundreds of able-bodied men and women for refusing to do what they are supposed to be paid for.

 

A news item, that I saw recently, which simply stated ?MPs Are Broke?, explained the speed with which the NPP Parliamentarians went to register at the Parliament, as soon as the registration was opened. It was such that many NDC MPS were even surprised at their large turn-out and punctuality! Most of them registered before the NDC MPs did! Yet when you listen to the manner they describe the Electoral Commissioner, you would think it was a different body that supervised their elections! You would think they would not accept any decision whatsoever from him! The only explanation for this is plain political opportunism. There would certainly have been a rebellion in the party if the NPP had maintained a logical and consistent position of boycotting the results declared by the Electoral Commission until their petition to the Supreme Court has been heard. Hence their contradictory positions.

 

If they do not want to take us for a ride, why are they ?free loading? on Parliament? What the NPP needs to know is that there is a world of difference between legal realities and political realities. They need to know that the political reality is that there is a President in Ghana. That, this is because, under this constitutional Republic of ours, the legal reality demands nothing apart from that. Thus they do themselves a greater favour by being civil and respecting their statutory duties and oaths of office. In terms of law, there is no contradiction between recognizing the inauguration of the President, and submitting a petition to the Supreme Court, because that is exactly what the Constitution recognizes. The NPP has become so emotional as to go over the board and commit silly mistakes that cost the tax payer a lot of money in terms of their salaries as they boycott parliamentary proceedings and ?pick and choose? in a series of self-contradictory and legally untenable assertions.

 

The contradictions came to its peak when the President was officially inaugurated with a full House of Parliament, despite the physical walk out by the NPP Parliamentarians, their presence in the House which inaugurated the President was captured at the time they took their own oaths of office! What made nonsense of their argument to boycott was the fact that the very Chief Justice to whom their petition was addressed did not see any contradiction between the legality and legitimacy of the Presidential Inauguration and the NPP petition to the Supreme Court. Much to his credit, former President John Agyekum Kufuor, by virtue of his unique position in the NPP, also maintained a civil presence. The NPP’s own attempts to explain the presence of former President Kufuor, only succeeded in making nonsense out of their boycott, even though there is no sign that this could in any way affect the results of the 2012 elections being contested.

 

?Civil presence?! Yes! That is the phrase I have been looking for! You see, as per our constitution, it is clear that the framers of our constitution intended that the basic institutions of the state need to run unimpeded by litigation until the Supreme Court says otherwise. Which means, both the litigants and the winners are expected to be part of the statutory and constitutionally mandated inauguration of the President. Failure to recognize the fact that the two have nothing to do with each other, gives a poor reading of the law. It also creates contradictory positions, and talking from both sides of the mouth, and saying many different things at the same time. It would have been quite civil of the NPP to have graced the occasion with a civilized presence, and making it clear that was without prejudice to their petition in court. That is panache for a party that wants to be seen by the international community as being democratic.

 

Such a gesture would have saved the NPP the painfully ridiculous attempts to swim against the legal currents of Ghana. We would not be having NPP MPs accepting the results of the Electoral Commission and going to Parliament but refuse to question Ministers nominated by the President! This is the ridiculous interpretation that by simply being law-abiding, they would somehow endanger their case in court! How much of their case in court depend upon their comportment in conformity with the law, rather than the results of the elections declared by the Electoral Commissioner? Do they really believe that by attending the inauguration former President Kufuor participated in al illegality? If it was legal and constitutional, where were the so-called ?champions of democracy? in Ghana, when Ghana needed them most?

 

The procedure intentionally places great importance to the declaration of electoral results at the polling stations, the collation at the constituency level, and up to the Electoral Commission. Each step has been made as transparent as they ought to be. The Electoral Commission collates and declares the result. He has no right to listen to any party with strange figures other than what has been publicly declared throughout the country and communicated to him through the approved channels. If a party wants to contest a declaration by the Electoral Commissioner, the onus of proof is on the petitioner, but all state institutions function normally until that decision has been disposed off in favour of the petitioner, when a second inauguration of a President, or a re-run of the Elections, or any other decision to the contrary would be required.

 

It seems clear enough to me that the framers of the constitution certainly did not envisage the beating up of journalists, stabbing of innocent pedestrians, and the incitements of ?all die be die!? The threshold upheld by the constitution envisages decent politicians who know their civic responsibilities and are able to separate those from their political battles. The way it is framed, it is not the winner that is celebrated, but the peace and stability of Ghana. Thus, it appears to me that, in the mind of the framers of the constitution, the petitioners were expected to maintain a civil and decorous presence at the inauguration, whilst vigorously pursuing their case at the court. The idea that a party would choose to boycott the inauguration and rather attack innocent journalists must have been an anathema indeed! That is why it is most unfortunate the illiterate interpretations of our constitution which seems to be vogue in the NPP, as a justification for the NPP MPs’ boycott of parliamentary proceedings. For example, Speaking to XYZ News in an interview, P.C Appiah Ofori said the NPP MPs will have no business going to court over the election results if they vet the president?s appointees. He explained:
?If you say he is not President and he makes appointments, why do you go and sit in, then it means you have accepted him as President and there is no need going to court… If they [NPP] do that then it means they have contradicted themselves.”[1] This is exactly where the constitutionality of their boycott comes in. Punitive measures need to be taken by way of legislation, a withdrawal of their stipends each time they embark upon a boycott. People have a right to express themselves in which ever way they please, but that does not mean the tax payer must pay for what is already a very expensive salary, for no work done! Such a law will help domesticate unscrupulous politicians to behave in a more civil fashion expected of our parliamentarians. I know some NDC members who might be very enthusiastic about a bill like that, which allows a boycott tax to recuperate work for nothing. This is effective because all the MPs know that they need a Tax Clearance Certificate in order to register as Parliamentary candidates the next time around.

 

Forward Ever! Backwards Never!

 

For Life, the Environment, and Social Justice!

 

Nana Akyea Mensah, Ghana Steering Committee, P-AI, Social Media Campaigns | January 22, 2013
[email protected] – Pan-Africanist International – a grammar of Pan-Africanism and its manners of articulation! www.panafricanistinternational.org
REFERENCES:

[1] NPP MPs have no business on vetting c’ttee – Appiah Ofori, General News of Monday, 21 January 2013, Source: radioxyzonline.com http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/artikel.php?ID=262758

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.