The Constitution Review Commission (CRC), which was charged to undertake consultative review of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana, yesterday presented its final report to the President at the Castle, Osu.
The commission, constituted on January 11, 2010, by President John Evans Atta Mills, was specifically tasked to listen to the people of Ghana, articulate their views in the form of recommendations together with a draft bill for the amendment of the constitution, in the event that any changes were warranted.
The commission received a total of 83,161 submissions and carried out a fully transparent national exercise.
The report consists of 15 chapters and it details, the processes employed by the commission to consult with the people of Ghana on the operation for their constitution; the summary of the submissions made by the people of Ghana; and the state of the law on the issues raised by the submissions.
It also includes the comparative international experience on the submission which are relevant to Ghana’s situation; the findings and observations of the commission; and finally, the recommendations of the commission.
Highlighting the number of values and principles the commission employed to guide its work in executing its mandate, the Chairman of the CRC, Professor (Emeritus) Albert Kodzo Fiadjoe, said every action and recommendation of the commission must have as an overriding aim in the promotion of the unity and cohesion of the nation.
He said every action and recommendation of the commission must aim at contributing to the attainment of a better standard of living for the people of Ghana in general.
He said the review exercise, cumulatively, must move the constitution from a political document to a developmental document, shifting from the “politics of democracy to the economics of democracy” so that Ghanaians might look at it as the source of renewed hope for the future.
Among the recommendations, he said, the commssion had clarified the appointing power of the President, which in some cases enlarges the pool of consultations before appoitment, including with Parliament.
Other changes affecting the executive include the power of the President to appoint any number of ministers from Parliament without a minimum or cap and a requirement for the President to pay tax.
Another recommendation relates to the legislative arm of government, aimed at strengthening that branch and making it capable of acting as an effective institution of governance in its own right.
The main recommended changes in respect of the Legislature include clarifying the concept of a “Money Bill” thereby making it easier for Members of Parliament to introduce private member’s bill: ensuring that the censure of a Minister of State by Parliament authomatically results in the removal of the minister from office, and measures to strengthen Parliamentary Committees.
On the Electoral Commission (EC), the commission has made specific recommendation on the EC and the electoral process to regulate better the manner in which districts and constituencies are created; draw the time for Parliamentary elections backwards so that they may be held together with Presidential elections within 60 days before the inauguration of a new government.
It also made the transfer of power from one administration to the other generally smoother; and amend the Rules of Court to limit interlocutory applications, adjournments and delays in electoral disputes to ensure the disposal of such cases within a period of six months.
Other recommendations aim to allow for the EC to study the system of proportional representation for possible application in Ghana; take adequate administrative measures to ensure the actualisation of the right to vote for categories of prisoners and Ghanaians resident abroad; strengthen the Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) for improved self-regulation of political parties; and submit annual reports to Parliament.
The commission further recommeded that CHRAJ decisions be directly enforceable in the courts of law and it should be empowered to initiate investigations into any matter within its mandate without formal complaint.
It also recommeded that the National Media Commission (NMC) should have the primary responsibility to authorise the grant or refusal of a broadcast frequency as well as its suspension or withdrawal.
Prof Fiadjoe said the current constitution was a good document and that care must be taken not to engage in its unwarranted amendment, saying that “the Commission would only recommend an ammendment of the constitution where the current provisions or practice have proved to be deficient.”
He said the constitution was a living organism, capable of being nurtured for growth and development, stressing that the commission had sought to nurture and provide for the future management of that growth.
Receiving the report, the President said the document was not the property of the government and gave the assurance that its content would be shared with all Ghanaians who would then take a decision on it.
“It is the people who are going to take the decision because all information as contained in the document will affect their daily lives,” the President said.
He said the government would encourage public discourse on the document in order to remove all obstacles and difficulties and hoped that the report would be acceptable to all.
President Mills expressed the delight that the report had covered a large areas, saying “it is those of us privileged to be in executive position and work with the constitution who know which part is worth looking at.”
Source: Timothy Gobah/D-Graphic
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