A coalition of more than 500 civil society organisations (CSOs) and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) has launched a nationwide campaign against the directive by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to the Auditor-General, Mr Daniel Yao Domelevo, to proceed on his accumulated leave.
In a campaign dubbed: "Bring Back Domelevo", the coalition, which comprises the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), the Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC), the Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG), the Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP) and over 400 members of the CSOs Platform on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), called on the President to reverse the "proceed on leave" decision in the interest of accountability and democratic governance.
Led by the Executive Secretary of the GII, Ms Linda Ofori Kwafo; the Executive Director of the GACC, Mrs Beauty Emefa Narteh; the Executive Director of IDEG, Dr Emmanuel Akwettey; the Country Director of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), Ms Wilhelmina Mensah, and the Executive Director of ACEP, Mr Ben Boakye, the CSOs said their action was to protect the independence of the Auditor-General and, indeed, all state independent institutions.
At the launch of the campaign in Accra yesterday, the CSOs further noted that the President's directive would gravely undermine the fight against corruption and also weaken state institutions.
They described the action as “regrettable and inconsistent with both the letter and the spirit of the 1992 Constitution”.
The Director of Advocacy and Policy Engagement at CDD-Ghana, Dr Kojo Asante, who delivered a statement at the launch, said the action against the Auditor-General was an affront to the President’s commitment to fight corruption.
“In our estimation, such actions only weaken our quest for good democratic governance grounded in the principle of checks and balances, the rule of law and the pursuit of public accountability”.
President Akufo-Addo, on June 29, 2020, directed Mr Domelevo to take his ‘accumulated leave’ of 123 days, beginning July 1, 2020.
Following the Auditor-General’s response that challenged the constitutionality of the President’s directive, his annual leave for 2020 was subsequently added to his leave days, bringing the total leave days to 167.
This means that Mr Domelevo will stay at home until March 2021.
The CSOs, however, said the action by the President was a threat to the independence of the Auditor-General and other independent governance institutions.
“Some aspects of the decision of the President, on the face of it, may be grounded in law. However, when examined overall in the context of the 1992 Constitution, particularly in relation to the independence of the Auditor-General, it appears to interfere with the mandate of the Auditor General,” Dr Asante added.
He said the framers of the 1992 Constitution could not have intended to create “a simple employer- employee relationship” between the appointing authority (in this case, the President) and the Auditor-General, thereby making the President a human resource manager administering the leave schedule of heads of independent governance institutions”.
One of the reasons the President gave in ordering Mr Domelevo to proceed on leave was that a similar decision had been taken by the late President John Evans Atta Mills in 2009 during the tenure of the then Auditor-General, Mr Edward Dua Agyeman, who is the current Board Chairman of the Ghana Audit Service.
According to Dr Asante, however, the contexts of the two cases were not the same.
“Context matters in discussing these issues. It is important to note that this current issue with the Auditor-General is not an isolated event but part of an ongoing tussle between the Auditor-General and the Audit Service Board, led by Mr Dua Agyeman, over the confines of the Auditor-General’s constitutional independence.
“The board’s efforts to subjugate the Auditor-General under its control have led to several clashes, including a matter in 2017 over the purchase of vehicles for the Audit Service which is now the subject of an EOCO investigation,” he added.
Dr Asante explained that the action being taken by the CSOs to bring back Mr Domelevo was not born out of any political considerations but in the national interest.