On Wednesday, February 22, the Parliament of Ghana celebrated 30 years of uninterrupted parliamentary democracy.
The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Kingsford Bagbin launched a year-long celebration of 30 years of Ghana’s parliamentary democracy under the Fourth Republic on the theme: “Thirty years of Parliamentary democracy under the Fourth Republic: The journey thus far.”
The four roles of Parliament, are listed as: representation, legislation, oversight responsibilities, and being in control of the public purse.
On the role of representation, it is the duty of parliamentarians to represent and satisfy the interests of constituents, national, and partisan interests.
However, it appears that from 1992 till date, Members of Parliament have sought to satisfy the interests of the political party they are affiliated to and, in effect, neglected national and constituents’ interests.
Speaking at a ceremony to mark 30 years of Parliamentary Democracy in Ghana, Majority Leader Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu stated that Ghana needs a new constitution that caps the number of Ministers, and MPs and makes the Speaker an MP.
The majority leader with this assertion called for an urgent review of the 1992 Constitution.
According to him, the time is ripe for amendments to be made to the supreme laws of the country in order for them to reflect the ever-changing needs of the contemporary world.
The Suame legislator said Ghana needs a new constitution that caps the number of ministers, caps the number of seats in Parliament, and also makes the Speaker of Parliament an MP.
“The 1992 constitution has no doubt served some good in the last three decades, I must, however, admit that some assumptions underpinning some reformations no longer hold or are not supported by current social-political realities.
“This underlines the calls by various stakeholders for the review of the 1992 Constitution. It is time to re-engineer our constitutional architecture to conform to today’s realities.
“We need a constitutional order that frowns on a winner-takes-all syndrome and promotes collaboration, collectiveness, and consensus building,” he said on Wednesday.
“We need a constitutional order that would mitigate the winner takes all attitude and prevent the do-or-die combat associated with our elections. We need a new constitutional order that would prevent the constant increase in the number of seats in Parliament.”
“We need a new constitutional order that would put a cap on the number of ministers of state. We need a new constitutional order that would ensure that the Speaker of Parliament is a serving member of Parliament.”
How did Parliament fare in the one-time member of Parliament as speaker
Edward Korbly Doe Adjaho was a member of parliament, a politician and a lawyer who was Speaker of the Parliament of Ghana from 2013 to 2017.
He is the first speaker to have been elected among members of the Parliament of Ghana. He thus became the fifth Speaker of the Fourth Republic of Ghana. Following his elevation to the position of Speaker, he resigned from his position as Member of Parliament for the Avenor-Ave constituency in the Parliament of Ghana.
He was one of the few politicians who retained their seats in parliament throughout the Fourth Republic of Ghana serving for 20 years from 1993 to 2013. He was also a member of the Pan-African Parliament.
He was a member of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th parliament of the Republic of Ghana. He was the First Deputy Speaker of Parliament from 2009 to 2013.
By virtue of Article 97 of the 1992 Constitution, Mr. Adjaho vacated his seat upon assumption of the office of Speaker of Parliament. He was sworn in by Chief Justice Georgina Theodora Woode at the first sitting of the new Parliament. He was the Speaker of Parliament until his tenure ended on 6 January 2017 after the 6th Parliament was dissolved.
Mr. Adjaho’s official role as speaker was to moderate debate, make rulings on procedure, announce the results of votes, and the like.
He decided on who may speak and had the power to discipline members who flouted the procedures of the chamber or house. He also represented the body in person, as the voice of the body in ceremonial and some other situations.
There have been countless calls to have the 1992 Constitution reviewed, however, every process undertaken to amend the constitution has stalled.
Legal Practitioners in the country have said that the 1992 Constitution needs substantial amendments from the executive power to other sections.
In a related development, the Dean of UPSA Law School, Professor Kofi Abotsi has called for a review of Article 78 Clause 1 of the 1992 Constitution, which requires the President to appoint a majority of his ministers from among parliamentarians.
According to him, that constitutional provision “doesn’t seem to make sense both in operational and philosophical terms.”