Politics of Friday, 28 January 2011
Ho, Jan. 28, GNA - Justice Anthony Abada, Supervising High Court Judge of Ho, on Thursday, advised Ghanaians "to hasten slowly in tinkering with the 1992 Constitution."
He cited the Constitution of the United States of America as having had only 30 amendments to its credit, in its 200 years of existence, with the Supreme Court of that country playing a significant role in the workings of that country's Constitution.
Justice Abada was summarizing submissions made at a workshop, organized by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) and the United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF), as part of the on-going constitutional review process.
It was under the theme, "Giving voice to the voiceless in Ghana's Constitutional Review."
Issues discussed were, the executive, legislature, judiciary, decentralization and local government, chieftaincy, directive principles of state policy and national elections and related issues.
He said the Supreme Court should have the final say in constitutional and election matters, as currently provided.
Justice Abada said the orderly outcome of the 2008 elections in which there was a smooth change of government with just 40,000 votes, won for Ghana, the admiration and respect of the international community and "shows how intelligent and wise we are."
Regarding the Directive Principles of State Policy, Justice Abada aid its application should reflect the peculiar circumstances.
Whereas a good number of the participants suggested the extension of the mandate of the President to five yeas, Justice Abada said the current four-year mandate, subject to renewal by re-election should stand, as that would give enough time to the President to prosecute his policies.
On the choice of ministers, he said the President should continue to choose the percentage prescribed by the Constitution from parliament.
On the remuneration of members of parliament, he said, it should be attractive so as to get the best potential legislators into parliament, cautioning that, care should be taken so that we do not "cut our nose to spite our face."
Justice Abada observed that, the majority of submissions dwelt on local government, which is an indication of the importance the populace attached to that area of governance.
Dr Michael Ofori-Mensah, Policy Analyst of the IEA said it is important that the constitutional review process provides an inclusive strategy to ensure that the disadvantaged sections of society were not either ignored or sidelined in the review process.
He said the constitution has for the last 18 years faced several challenges of interpretation because while some provisions are difficult to interpret and operate, other pertinent issues were not provided for in the constitution, which have complicated the conduct of democratic governance in Ghana.
Dr. Ofori-Mensah said key areas of the constitution such as the executive, legislature, judiciary and chieftaincy also require re-evaluation.