Ghana's parliament will begin vetting a list of minister-designates of President John Evans Atta-Mills today in the capital, Accra. The parliament appointments committee will begin vetting all 35 executives nominated by the president for various ministerial positions. The minister designates are expected to take turns answering questions from members of the appointments committee about themselves and the various ministries they would be managing. Parliament also urged members of the public with information or questions for any of the minister-designates to make them available to the committee before the vetting process begins today. The Honorable Felix Twumasi-Appiah is a member of the appointments committee. He tells reporter Peter Clottey that the committee would stay above partisan politics in today's hearing.
"First and foremost, the appointment committee, our mandate as per our constitution and our standing orders in parliament, is supposed to determine the suitability or otherwise of a nominee to become a minister of state. So that is exactly what we intend to do on the appointment committee when we sit on Friday and beyond. So we are going to determine the suitability of the individual nominee to the positions as per the president's appointment, and then we will advise the president accordingly," Twumasi-Appiah pointed out.
He said the committee would also determine a variety of things about the nominees in order for them to know what line of action to take.
"So what is going to happen is that we have to determine their suitability in that they would have to swear an oath to have to do with their capacity as individuals persons as to whether they would be able to hold up the positions assigned to them to compliment the president's vision. And also meeting the many aspirations of the ordinary Ghanaian as to why they voted for the president. So for us, our basic requirement is to determine the suitability of the nominees as to whether they would be able to hold those positions or otherwise," he said.
Twumasi-Appiah said the appointments committee would stay above partisan politics.
"What Ghanaians should expect from us is the best job, and they should expect that as a committee, we would be doing our best as prescribed by the constitution and by the standing orders of the parliament of the republic of Ghana. We are not going to fall short of any of our standing orders or the constitutional mandate for us to do what we ought to do or what we have to do," Twumasi-Appiah noted.
He said if the committee finds any of the nominees to be unfit for the office, the committee would advise President Atta-Mills accordingly.
"If anybody falls short of the requirement, Ghanaians should expect us to just tell the president that 'excuse me Mr. President, we believe that this minister cannot be a minister'," he said.
Twumasi-Appiah the committee would conduct a thorough investigation to ascertain whether a nominee is qualified or not in order carry out its constitutional mandate.
"You would very much recall that during the parliament before the present one, we had certain recommendations and certain memoranda about some of the minister-designates coming up, and we had to disqualify some ministers. And some Ghanaians recalled me saying that I have failed about three ministers in President John Kufuor's administration, and that what would become of me this time around since I'm a member of parliament of the ruling party? We are not going to leave any stone unturned. All those allegations that have been brought forth would be investigated before any action is taken," Twumasi-Appiah pointed out.
He said if any of the ministers designate is adjudged to have flouted any law, that individual would be rejected and sent to the proper authorities for them to face the full rigors of the law.
"The parliamentary select committee or the appointments committee is a equivalent to a high court in sitting. The only difference is that we cannot sentence anybody to let say a prison term. What it means is that if we have anybody that we believe strongly that has breached the laws of the Republic of Ghana, we can recommend the person to the appropriate institution for them to be taken care of. What it means is that we are going to sit and listen to all those allegations and then make our recommendations to the appropriate institutions. Once we think that the allegations are nothing but just mere rumor, we will allow the appropriate institution to investigate them and then come back with a recommendation to the committee. And then based on the recommendations, we would take our decision as and how we deem it fit," he said.
Meanwhile, a political pressure group calling itself Alliance for Accountable Governance is generating controversy after recently accusing some of the minister-designates of being unfit to hold state office.
The group singled out Hannah Tetteh, minister designate for Trade and Industry, alleging that while serving as a Member of Parliament for Awutu-Afutu constituency from 2001 to 2005, she simultaneously held a full-time position with the Ghana Agro Food Company. They contend that her conduct contravenes the constitution and is dishonorable because she drew salaries and other benefits from the Consolidated Fund of Ghana.
But Hannah Tetteh denies any wrongdoing and is threatening to take legal action against the group for defamation.
By Peter Clottey