STRANEK-AFRICA has observed with keen interest developments in the 8th Parliament since its commencement in January this year and has come to the conclusion that the current leadership of the Majority Group in Parliament lacks tactful leadership skills and influence that is required to build the requisite consensus in leading government business in a hung Parliament.
The Majority Leader and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Hon. Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu has failed to demonstrate leadership in the election of Speaker resulting in a situation in which his Party’s candidate Prof. Mike Ocquaye lost the elections. After this defeat, he (the Majority leader) made public pronouncements to the effect that Rt. Hon. Alban Bagbin had not been elected and that there was a consensus to make him Speaker. Even though Parliament successfully approved the President’s appointees, recent developments show that the leadership of the Majority Group has failed woefully in leading Government business in the House.
One major point of failure relates to the rejection of the 2022 Budget and Economic Policy of Government. First, the leadership of the Majority in Parliament instead of engaging their counterparts at the consultative stages of the budget preparation to build consensus given the current nature of Parliament failed to do so. After the presentation of the budget, the Minority Group indicated clearly its intention to reject the budget subject to certain amendments. These threats were repeated throughout the budget debate.
Unfortunately, the NPP leadership in Parliament failed to take steps to avert the imminent rejection of the budget. It was only on 26th November, 2021 the date for the budget vote that the Finance Minister decided to prevail upon Parliament to defer the approval or rejection of the budget. The budget was rejected partly because the Majority though has 137 votes in addition to the independent member (a Pro-NPP member) failed once again to mobilize their members for the vote.
Taking cognizance of the fact that they would lose the votes, the Majority Caucus elected to stage a walk out on its own government’s budget. After this rejection, they shamelessly resorted to disregard the Constitution and the Standing Orders of Parliament to rescind the rejection of the budget. In the instant case of the proposed E-levy and its bill, there is absolutely no doubt that the introduction of the E-levy or tax has suffered a major push back from Ghanaians. It is therefore strange that government remains intransigent about the E-levy and insists that it must pass. Here again, Hon. Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu failed to marshal the necessary votes to support the passage of the E-levy bill.
As Ghanaians may be aware, the Minority Members on the Finance Committee voted against the bill at the Committee level and therefore the report supposedly came before the plenary by a majority decision and not by consensus. It is our observation that the failure on the part of the Majority Leader to lay the report on the bill resulted in the inability of the House to consider it on time hence the departure of the Rt. Hon. Speaker.
STRANEK-Africa is of the view that even though Ghana has a hung Parliament, it is not necessary to have results of disagreements in the House. It is rather as a result of leadership failure on the part of those responsible for leading government business in the House.
Instead of adopting a more consultative approach to build consensus to ensure the success of government business, they have resorted to a very confrontational approach thereby generating more controversy and incurring the wrath of the Minority Group.
For instance, the Majority Leadership had the opportunity to consult their counterparts on the E-levy from March this year but they failed to do so. It was on the day the budget debate was about to be concluded and a vote to be taken that they held the entire House to ransom by calling for a meeting with the Rt. Hon. Speaker when the House was supposed to be sitting.
Again, the violence and controversies in the House are triggered by the determination of the Majority group to disregard the Constitution and the Standing Orders of Parliament. The First Deputy Speaker’s insistence to vote while presiding contrary to the Standing Orders of the House remains a major source of conflict that must be addressed before Parliament reconvenes.
It is a notorious fact that the position of the First Deputy Speaker comes with benefits and its conditions. While he enjoys allowances and privileges that come with the position, he is also precluded from voting when presiding. By necessary implication, an occupant of that position cannot pick and choose the content of the package with respect to the position of the First Deputy Speaker. In effect, if Hon. Joseph Osei-Owusu (also known as Joe Wise) is not ready to conform to the conditions associated with the position of the First Deputy Speaker, it will be prudent for him to resign to make way for those who are ready to accept the terms and conditions that comes with the position of the First Deputy Speaker in its entirety.
Again, it is clear that the Majority Leader and his Deputy Hon. Afenyo Markin have resorted to attacking the Rt. Hon. Speaker and the Minority Leadership with wild accusations to cover up their failed leadership. Such attitude may work for a regular Parliament but for such a hung Parliament like this, the irresponsible conduct of the Majority leadership will further deepen the acrimony and mistrust between the Minority and the Majority Groups.
Again, the persecution of members of the Minority in Parliament through invitations of the Police and threats of prosecution will further make matters worse for government. STRANEK-Africa can predict that if things remain without any interventions, the sharp disagreements and acrimony witnessed in the first session of Parliament will worsen during the second session.
STRANEK-Africa is therefore calling on the leadership of the Majority to change its approach or be replaced altogether by their political party. The National Peace Council must consider continuous engagement with both sides to ensure that tempers are calmed in the House.
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Nii Tettey Tetteh - Executive Director - +233 559 042 914
Eyram Norglo - Deputy Director of Research - +233 266 119 773