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Reshuffle Sparks Fresh Debate
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When President John Atta Mills announced his first ministerial reshuffle this week, he stopped short of indicating the effective dates for the changes he made.

This appears to have imposed a challenge for some of the affected ministers as some Minority Members of Parliament have heckled them and raised questions as to whether or not they could still speak for their respective ministries in spite of the announced changes.

On Wednesday, Hon. Albert Abongo, who was dropped as Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing, was briefly prevented from answering a question on the floor of Parliament in his capacity as the Minister. The MP for Sekondi, Hon. Papa Owusu-Ankomah queried him over when he ceases to be the substantive minister for the sector.

The Sekondi MP capitalized on the failure of the President to indicate in his official communication to Parliament the exact date the ministerial changes would take effect. Nonetheless, Hon. Abongo was allowed to respond to the question. He explained that he began packing out of the ministry soon after learning of the reshuffle but the Chief Director at the ministry advised against it.

Similarly, the decision by Hon. Rashid Pelpuo, outgoing Minister for Youth and Sports to rejoin the Black Stars in Angola ahead of yesterday’s encounter with Nigeria was questioned since Hon Akua Sena Dansua has been re-assigned to the ministry from the Women and Children Affairs.

Consequently, the Minority Leader in Parliament, Hon. Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu, has called on the Constitutional Review Commission to look critically into the tenure of office for Ministers of State as stipulated in Article 81 of the 1992 Constitution, which says: “The office of a Minister of State or a Deputy Minister of State or Deputy Minister shall become vacant if – (a) his appointment is revoked by the President; or (b) he is elected as speaker or Deputy Speaker; or (c) the resigns from office or (d) he dies.”

According to the leader of the opposition in Parliament, clarifying this provision will help to know the exact date and time a particular minister ceases to be in office. Hon. Owusu-Ankomah expressed the view that though the President has the constitutional right to reshuffle, it was imperative to inform the various ministers of state when they cease to function in their old position and when they can assume their new portfolios.

The Sekondi MP, who served in the erstwhile Kufuor government in various capacities including Minister of Justice and Attorney-General, Education, and Majority leader, said when he was a minister the then President, prior to a reshuffle, would inform affected ministers of when their services would be required and vice versa in their new and old ministries respectively.

He also criticized the reassignment of certain cabinet ministers, describing it as “uncalled for.” In a related development, MPs on both sides of the house have expressed concern about the nomination of the three front liners on the majority side for various ministerial positions.

While Majority leader Hon. Alban Sumana Bagbin is the minister designate for Water Resources, Works and Housing, Deputy Majority leader Hon John Akologu Tia is designated for the Information Ministry, and Majority Chief Whip Hon Enoch Teye Mensah is the minister designate for Employment and Social Welfare.

The three MPs are seen to be very experienced, having served for more than ten years as MPs. Their nomination therefore, it is believed, will deprive the house of their experience and expertise.

But Hon. Bagbin has watered down the argument, pointing out that his appointment as minister offers him an opportunity to directly contribute to the Mills’ administration’s better Ghana agenda.
Source: Public Agenda/Ghana

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