Aug 22, 2012 at 8:37am
Reflection Of Work Of Constitution Review Commission
COMMENTARY ON REFLECTION OF THE WORK OF THE CONSTITUTION REVIEW COMMISSION
Finally the Constitution Review Commission has ended its work and produced a 1000-page book that covered every aspect of the original document.
The Commission reportedly received thousands of memoranda, met hundreds of professional groups and individuals and sought the views of the two past Presidents who were elected under the 1992 constitution.
What is left now is how to implement the reviewed document should it be accepted by the majority of Ghanaians.
But this cannot take place if a number of events do not precede it.
Fortunately, there has been a government White Paper indicating acceptance by the appointing authority, which is the President.
This, the late President John Evans Atta-Mills did in June 2012, not too long before his death.
The other, is putting the amendments to a referendum to get the verdict of Ghanaians either to accept or reject them.
At its last public encounter with media practitioners from Greater Accra and Volta Regions, the Minister of Information, Fritz Baffour hinted that government will set up a committee to prepare the document for the next level.
But what are some of the key issues that led to the white paper?
Surely one would say government is the one institution that works with or must be seen to be working with the constitution and therefore knows where the shoe pinches most.
One of the issues the government is not happy with relates to the national development planning under sub-themes one and two.
Government notes that whilst it accepts the recommendation for a comprehensive, long term, strategic, multi year rolling national development plan, it does not agree that, it should be entrenched in the constitution and binding on all successive governments.
This in the view of government will tie the hands of successive governments, “to the ideological interests of a particular political party.” Some analysts have asked: if the National Development Planning Commission is one of the many registered political parties or if the appointment of staff is not to be on merit and if there are no safeguards to ensure the achievement of national goals.
Government noted that the scope of national development should be a matter of legislation and circumstances prevailing and not a function of constitutional prescription.
It is clear that government sees the status quo as good.
The government White Paper had challenges with other issues relating to the Executive, the Legislature, the Judiciary, the Public Services, and other Constitutional and Independent bodies.
On decentralization and local Government agreed with most of the recommendations of the Commission which among other stated that Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives must be elected, because in the dispensation of unitary governance, a balance must be struck between central control and local autonomy.
People have argued that local authority heads feel they are accountable to the executive so they fail to listen to the views of the people they are supposed to represent.
But government recommends that the appointment system will still be maintained with a little modification.
It will select at least five persons who will be vetted by the Public Service Commission after which the successful three will contest in a public election.
The position of government on this matter is clear.
But what do others, feel about the commission’s review document and/or the white paper?
There is a window of opportunity to ventilate these positions.
The Minister of Justice and Attorney General and his Deputy are open to suggestions and contributions.
Lobbying of Cabinet through its Secretary, parliament through the Speaker and the Council of State through its Chairman have been suggested.
A better Ghana for posterity is indeed the desire of all and it is important that people take interest in matters that affect them directly or indirectly.
The 10 member committee presided over by Professor Emeritus Albert Kodzo Fiadjo, with Dr Raymond Atuguba as Executive secretary should be commended for having worked so hard and spending far less than their counterparts in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya have spent.
Today, their job is done.
It is the turn of Ghanaians to accept or reject the document and its recommendations.
Definitely nobody else will seek our welfare but ourselves so let’s go on line and download the document and take our time to review and understand it for our own good.
BY: RAYBORN BULLEY, A JOURNALIST.