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Let’s Weed Out Politics From Ghana’s Public Services   
 
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06-Sep-2011  
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The recent dismissal of Professor Frimpong-Boateng from his position at the Korle Bu Cardio Centre came as a shock to many Ghanaians, not because the professor was the founder of the centre, but most especially because he was not a man who was likely to allow his political affiliation to interfere with his professional work.

Despite his political ambition, Professor Frimpong-Boateng is too “refined” and too nation-minded to allow party politics to interfere with, and dent his professional career. Anyone who has had the chance to talk to the professor will attest to these noble attributes that underpin his whole personality. Besides, health care delivery is one last area where any professional person will like to play party politics with his work.

One could vaguely understand the removal from office of the former running mate of Nana Akufo-Addo because the Bank of Ghana, where the former presidential running mate used to work, is a politically sensitive place, in view of the bank’s national monetary policy role. Also, removing the head of the GBC from his position was understandable, given the role GBC plays in dissemination of information, including political information. One can give more examples of public places where a new government may escape criticism if it wants to change their CEOs or other top people who are involved in policy decisions of those establishments. The Cardio Centre of Korle-Bu is, and should not be one of such public places that need to be politicised. Irrespective of what explanation the government has given, the dismissal was “politically motivated”. I am not interested in admonitions though, especially knowing that this practice of sacking top public servants from opposing parties is not confined to Mills’ Government.

As a nation, we must know which public service positions are “political” and which ones are “non-political”, so as to treat holders of various public positions accordingly. The President, Ministers and other members of the government must have the power to appoint and sack public office holders whose positions are “political”; but they should not have the power to appoint and sack, directly or indirectly, public office holders whose positions are not “political”. Ghanaians who fall under the latter classification should be appointed and sacked by public bodies and institutions that are themselves “non-political”, and whose bosses are also not appointed or sacked by the President or any member of his government. Two problems hinder the development of this situation in Ghana.

The first problem is that the 1992 Constitution fails to make this important classification between public office holders whose positions are “political” and those whose positions are not. The second problem is that the Constitution has given too much power to the President, Ministers and other members of the government, which allows them to appoint and control almost all top public office holders in Ghana. It is the combination of these two constitutional defects that has led to the on-going politicisation of the entire Ghanaian Public Services, leading to executive abuses that include sacking of political opponents who occupy top public office positions and replacing them with party members. To remedy this situation, we must clearly divide all top public office positions into (1) those that are “political” and (2) those that are “non-political”.

Holders of “political positions” must hold their offices by appointment of the President or any member of the government and must accordingly go when there is a change of government, unless an in-coming government retains them through renewal of their positions. *Holders of “non-political positions” anywhere in the Ghanaian Public Services, on the other hand, must under no circumstance be appointed or removed by the President or any member of his government. In view of self-interest, Parliament itself is not expected to pass a law that will bring about these recommendations. In my opinion therefore, these recommendations can only be effected by the Constitutional Review Commission which is yet to complete its work and submit its recommendations to the government.

The Constitutional Review Commission must also amend the Constitution, so as to ban Public Office holders, who occupy top positions that are “non-political”, from being “card-holding” members of any political party registered in Ghana. Where holders of “non-political positions” decide to go into active politics, which should include registering as members of political parties or attending political activities of registered parties, they should resign their public office positions. It should be noted that I am aware that practices in countries like USA and UK run counter to this suggestion I am making.

This fact notwithstanding, I still feel we need to institute a ban here, because we do not have to copy everything these developed countries practise, especially when we take into consideration the fact that those older democracies have evolved “control systems” that make it hard for executive power to be abused without punitive consequences..... “control systems” that are non-existing in Ghana.
 
 
Source: Otchere Darko
 
 

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