Parliament must re-assert its authority in fighting corruption - Kofi Abotsi

BY: Nana Konadu Agyeman, ACCRA
Mr Henry Kwasi Prempeh (right), Executive Director of Center Democratic Development making a contribution during the lecture with the theme title”Civic Responsibilities and Accountable Governance”. With him is Ms Josephine Nkrumah (2nd right), Ghana National Commission for Civic Education and Mr Kofi Abotsi (left), former Dean of GIMPA. Picture by ESTHER ADJEI
Mr Henry Kwasi Prempeh (right), Executive Director of Center Democratic Development making a contribution during the lecture with the theme title”Civic Responsibilities and Accountable Governance”. With him is Ms Josephine Nkrumah (2nd right), Ghana National Commission for Civic Education and Mr Kofi Abotsi (left), former Dean of GIMPA. Picture by ESTHER ADJEI

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A former Dean of at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) Law School, Mr Ernest Kofi Abotsi, has called on Parliament to re-assert its authority so that it serves as an effective check on the executive in the fight against corruption.

Although the majority side would not want to see the executive fail, Mr Abotsi said there must be an assertion of independence and corporate standing of the legislature which must be very self-reliant from the executive.

Mr Abotsi who was speaking during a panel discussion at the Ghana Action Series lecture in Accra on November 6, 2018 said “The failure of parliament to assert its independence has contributed to an unchecked executive that has always taken advantage of the legislature over the years.

The lecture which was on the theme: “Responsible citizenship and accountable leadership” was organised by the One Ghana Movement, a thought leadership and social action group.


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Unchecked Executive
Mr Abotsi, who is a legal practitioner, said while there were law courts to serve as a check on the executive, such legal processes were costly and took a long time for decisions to be taken, a reason parliament needed to provide the daily political process checks on the executive.

However, he said, the polarised posture of parliament had allowed various governments to take advantage of it by strengthening their representation in parliament.

That, Mr Abotsi said, compelled lawmakers to tend to represent the interest of the executive other than the corporate interest of the legislature to which ultimately is to keep the executive in check.

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“The effect is that we virtually have had an unchecked executive over the years because whatever budget a government has, the legislators will have it passed, whatever ministers a government sends, you have them approved, whatever public committee outcomes in terms parliamentary hearing, you rarely hear of any consequent follow-ups in terms of whatever action has to be taken in the light of the outcomes of those deliberations.

“The reality is that parliament has somehow been weak in the face of the power-wielding executive and this has to change,” he said.

Time for change
Commenting on the work of the Constitution Review Committee, Mr Abotsi indicated that one major recommendation Ghanaians across the country sought, was a change of the two-third majority of ministers to come from parliament.

“It is that situation which has crippled parliament because instead of the legislature becoming a destination, it has become a transit point where Members of Parliament (MPs) feel their election is a means to become ministers,” he added.

Apolitical
The Chairperson of the National Commission on Civic Education (NCCE), Ms Josephine Nkrumah, called on Ghanaians to deal look at national issues particularly those that affected them devoid of partisan coloration.

That, she said was the only way people could properly question policies and decisions of the executive.

“When you go to parliament today, almost every debate you find in parliament is either one is for or against a particular party and you would hardly see our lawmakers voting on a matter of principle or objectivity.” she stated and said “The only time you will see legislators towing the same direction is when the matter in question affects their pockets.”

Voice of the people
The Executive Director of the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD), Prof H. Kwesi Prempeh, for his part called on the media to articulate issues which hindered the socio-economic development of the country.