Appointment of special assistants: Reduce President’s powers – Justice Dotse
A retired Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Jones Victor Mawulorm Dotse, has stressed the need to reduce the powers of the President to appoint staffers and special assistants under the Presidential Office Act, 1993 (Act 463).
That, he explained, would reduce the effects of the operations of the Act on the fortunes of the Civil and Local Government Service staff.
He said the law in its current form gave the President “extreme laxity” to do whatever he liked in office.
Presenting a paper at the sixth Nathan Anan Quao Lecture and Excellence Awards organised by the Civil and Local Government Staff Association of Ghana (CLOGSAG) in Accra yesterday, Justice Dotse wondered why successive governments had not questioned the validity of the law despite it being passed by a one-sided parliament after the New Patriotic Party boycotted the 1992 parliamentary elections.
The lecture, on the theme: “Constitutionality of the Presidential Office Act 1993 (Act 463)”, was organised in memory of the late Nathan Quao, a celebrated citizen, diplomat, educationist and public servant who became a senior presidential advisor on governance to five successive governments in the country.
It was attended by the staff of CLOGSAG, the media and the public.
While refraining from making a pronouncement on whether or not the Act was constitutional, he said: “It is a blanket provision that gives the President extreme laxity to do whatever he likes in office because a lot of power has been put in the hands of Presidents.”
“The law was passed by a one-sided parliament but I am surprised that since 2001, no President has questioned the constitutionality or otherwise of this Act,” he wondered.
He, therefore, recommended that CLOGSAG to lead the advocacy, adding, “Maybe lobbying and advocacy with relevant government agencies with a view to lessen and reduce the effect of the operations of Act 463 on the fortunes of Civil and Local Government staff in the Service might be more productive,” he said.
Justice Dotse said any exercise to declare the law constitutional or unconstitutional must also take into consideration the unanimous nature of a Supreme Court decision in 2017.
In the said judgment, the Supreme Court held in the case of the Civil and Local Government Staff Association of Ghana (CLOGSAG) vs the Attorney-General & 2 Others that a member of the Civil Service or Local Government cannot contest for elections, other than local government elections, or hold a political party position.
The Supreme Court in that decision elevated to a high pedestal the core principles of neutrality, impartiality, integrity and permanence that the Civil and Local Government Services have as their core values by which they perform their functions, as well as the yardstick by which they are measured.
The Executive Secretary of CLOGSAG, Isaac Bampoe Addo, maintained that the Act in its current form was a duplication of the functions of the Civil Service, saying it had impeded the growth and progress of the Civil and Local Government Services.
He said the perfection of the civil servant motivated the CLOGSAG to promote professionalism, integrity and collaboration in the Civil and Local Government Services.
Relying on a profound quote by Nathan Quao, the Executive Secretary said perfecting the civil servant was the surest way to move the country, hence the need to nullify the Act to avoid undermining the Civil and Local Government Services.
He said the Civil and Local Government Services were mandated to ensure a smooth and progressive governance, thus any impairment of these two services would retard the country’s development.
“The impairment of the activities of the Civil Service and the Local Government Service would affect the development of the country and turn the tide of progress and positive change,” Mr Addo said.