IEA wants Parliament involved in appointment of EC, CHRAJ Bosses

The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) is proposing far reaching recommendations aimed at curbing the current partisanship and the Winner-Takes All syndrome that have engulfed the country.

Key amongst the recommendations is the appointment of heads of constitutional bodies by the president, in consultation with the majority in Parliament and not the Council of State.

Per the recommendation, Parliament will now play a role in the appointment of heads of the Electoral Commission, the Commission of Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) the Chief Justice, Governor of the Bank of Ghana, the Auditor General, the Economic and Organised Crime Office etc.

Alternatively, the Institute is suggesting that an independent and bi-partisan committee should advertise the vacant position, vet the applicants and draw up a shortlist and submit to the president for appointment.

These recommendations were made by an 11-member Winner-Takes-All (WTA) Advisory Committee put together by the Institute of Economic Affairs.

The Committee chaired by Arch Bishop Palmer Buckle has members including Justice Emile Short, former CHRAJ boss, Ambassador Kabral Blay Amihere Chairman of National Media Commission, Dr Rose Mensah Kutin, Director of Abantu, Rev Dr Opuni Frimpong General Secretary of the Christian Council of Ghana and Prof Stephen Addei.

After a nationwide tour by the committee members and widespread consultation with key stakeholders, the committee proposed measures aimed at clipping the over aching powers of the president; suggested ways of making the legislature more independent and powerful, as well as other measures to strengthen district level governance, National Development Planning Commission and funding of political parties.

Executive Power

Addressing journalists on the recommendations, former CHRAJ boss Emile Short said steps must be taken to ensure that the current situation in which the president makes appointments not by merit but by political loyalty, is done away with.

Per the status quo, the president makes these appointment in consultation with the Council of State but the IEA WTA Advisory Committee says the independence of the Council of State is in itself questionable and the modalities of appointment must be relooked at.

“Instead of the president appointing 11 members of the Council of State [as is the case now], the president under the new recommendation must be made to elect only three members,” Short stated.

Alternatively the Committee proposed that the Council of State should be turned into a second chamber of Parliament which would be made up of technocrats and renowned statesmen and women.

Independence of Parliament

The WTA Advisory committee also recommended that Parliament be made truly independent in its real sense of separation of powers.

“No MP should hold a second position in the country… “If in case the president appoints a minister from Parliament the seat must be declared vacant and a bye election held,” Short intimated in support of the widely held opinion against the appointment of majority MPs as ministers.

Local Government

The IEA says the current mode of appointment at the local level is counter productive and must be changed.

“Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives as well as District Assemblies must be directly elected by the people as it is done at the national level.”

According to Short, the government’s white paper issued after the CRC finished its work rejected the proposal on the local government election but the WTA insists the recommendation must be reinstated.

The committee also contended that political parties should be funded by the state and also ensure there is a long term development plan engineered and accepted by all political parties.

The Executive Director of the IEA, Mrs Jean Mensa said the Institute as long as 2006 began taking measures to ensure the consolidation of Ghana’s democracy.

“The reform of the Winner-Takes-All syndrome did not begin today,” she said, adding “the winner-takes-all practice of governance has been identified as one of the main factors responsible for the growing polarization of the Ghanaian society and politicization of issues of national importance.”

She said the recommendations are still being discussed with the Institute hoping to meet the president in the coming weeks to iron out some differences.

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