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17.07.2019 Feature Article

Orphaned Second Estate

Orphaned Second Estate

A septuagenarian like me can still feel orphaned because I know if Nna and Agyaa were alive, I would still draw on their generous wise counsel. An orphan is so disadvantaged because there isn't the unalloyed parental sympathy to draw on when faced with the challenges of life. Our governance system is composed of: policy formulation and implementing machinery; making the laws that guide everything we do; and getting the laws interpreted to support enforcement. These may be characterised as: first estate, second estate, and third estate respectively.

Since Europeans usurped these functions from our indigenous authorities and imposed their version of democracy in our motherland Ghana (and Gold Coast before), the first and third estates have always existed. Even when there were kangaroo tribunals, the third still survived. There has always been an executive and a judiciary. There have, however, been times when there was no distinct lawmaking. Greedy executive outfits (NLC. NRC, SMC 1/2, AFRC and PNDC) annexed lawmaking and fused it with the executive. So apart from ordinances and acts, we have had decrees, including the PNDC camouflaged 'laws,' the latter as an example of when the executive steals, and adds to its powers, simultaneously making and interpreting the laws made.

Both the executive and the judiciary have taken full advantage of their continuous existence to hang on to their buildings. The executive, who disburses funds at its pleasure, has kept its buildings such as the Castle, the Old State House and the old Flagstaff House. It did not matter whether the governments of the CPP, NLC, PP and PNDC operated partly or fully from the Castle; as was with NRC, AFRC or the PNDC's Gondar Barracks in Burma Camp

February 1966 to October, 1969, there was no lawmaking to keep its premises. After a short revival, it was immobilized again January 1972 to September 1979. Lawmaking was further halted December 1981 for almost thirteen years. Over that period, the lawmaking building was seized, ransacked, vandalized, degraded and handed over to raucous cadres to do whatever they pleased with it. The beautiful piece of architecture which was sychronised with those of the judiciary and the old state house was destroyed beyond recognition.

It is strange none within the PNDC fold, lawyer decree writers included, foresaw future lawmaking chamber need. Someone ought to have had the wisdom to have protected the venue of the independence 'motion of destiny' building from the rough treatment it received.

Now, lawmaking is where the poor go to make money. It's unable to exercise oversight responsibility over the executive, approving dubious loans. It succumbed to 2012 blatant gerrymandering. It's where people who have stolen public money double-double go to hide from prosecution. Some members have behaved dishonourably by lying to smear others. All plus rumours of bribe taking to pass legislation have alienated akamafoɔ (sympathisers) who would advocate for a chamber.

Many buildings have sprung up all over the motherland for the judiciary. The executive has built itself the tenth most beautiful presidential palace in the world. Some called it chicken coop. Yet the excitement of the first occupant when it was being shown him by the builder was the brightest face of his I ever saw.

Older people should remember songster Kakaiku's lyrics about the agyanka (orphan). Learn from it if you are not that old. 'Egyankaba menya asɛm a wana bɛka ama me? (Poor orphan who's there to plead for me when I'm in trouble?' he posed the problem. Solution: 'Fa wo ho gyigya ne enya asɛm a obi bɛka ama wo. (Endear yourself to others and benefactors will offer help).' Orphaned Parliament should ask itself if it has endeared itself to the public to earn support in its quest for a chamber.

Maybe members can begin by purging themselves of the sins of the past by playing dead when the executive was gerrymandering in 2012, contracting dubious loans such as STX. That can be followed with a pledge never to allow the executive to ride roughshod over it with more dubious loan contracts. Also, check the miscreants in the chamber who are degrading the institution, acting dishonourably.

The current 275 is outrageously too many for a combination of a set of V8s, ex-gratia, and even double salary every four-year cycle. Expending that is no joke given the paltry national kitty. No more surrendering in timidity; perpetually cowed by incestuous minister presence or succumbing to executive bribery. No more go softly with vetting because 's/he is one of us.' Sovereignty is Parliament because it is of 'we the people's' direct representatives; not so much in the executive or judiciary. If the executive has a palace, the judiciary edifices, Parliament must have its abode like it was in the beginning; not perching in a state house complex.

By Kwasi Ansu-Kyeremeh

Kwasi Ansu-Kyeremeh
Kwasi Ansu-Kyeremeh, © 2019

This author has authored 122 publications on Modern Ghana. Author column: KwasiAnsu-Kyeremeh

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