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General News of Friday, 2 February 2018


Cash-for-seat scandal: More drama as Minority hints of debate boycott

The Minority members in Parliament have hinted they may boycott a full debate on the findings of the controversial cash-for-seat committee.

Dr Dominic Ayine, a member of the five-member ad-hoc committee constituted to investigate the presidential cash-for-seat scandal said the minority will walk-out if their dissenting views on the findings are not incorporated in the final report of the committee.

The two minority members on the ad-hoc committee which includes James Avedzi have already issued a dissenting report damning the Trades Ministry and accusing organisers of the Expatriate business awards of forgery.

The committee has also officially laid the final report on the floor Friday, the content of which for now remains a mystery not just to members of the Minority in the committee but to the media as well.

Speaking to Joy News, Ayine suspects their report which they have submitted to the committee, a copy of which has been intercepted by, may not have been incorporated in the final report after all.

He told Emefa Apawu, the chair of the committee clandestinely laid the final report without allowing members of the minority members on the committee to see it.

“Without minoritarian views democracy will be an empty shell,” he said, pointing out the minority may just walk out if the majority decide to "block their input.”

Partisan drama at birth

The controversy surrounding the cash-for-seat scandal has always been tainted in steep partisan considerations at birth.

It was the Minority members led by the Chief whip Muntaka Mubarak and Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa who blew the whistle loud in Parliament, accusing the Trades Ministry of trading the office of the presidency for private gain in the Expatriate Awards ceremony held on December 8.

According to the two, organisers of the awards ceremony in cahoots with the Trades Ministry sold seats to expatriate businessmen in exchange for potential favours from the president.

With a copy of a sponsorship package as their evidence, the minority members said the businessmen were made to pay as high as $100,000 in order to sit closer to the president at the awards night with other extra benefits attached.

They accused the Trades Ministry of breaching the country’s laws and demanded a Parliamentary probe into the matter.

Not even a statement from the presidency clearing the Trades Ministry of any wrongdoing will stop the Minority from demanding a probe.

If anything, it angered them all the more. They demanded an emergency sitting to consider a motion for a parliamentary probe into the matter.

The Majority disagreed with the views on the other side but together with the Speaker of Parliament, Prof Mike Ocquaye, granted the wish of the Minority but not without drama.

A five-member committee was set up, which included Mr Kwasi Ameyaw-Cheremeh, (Chairman) Dr Mark Assibey Yeboah and Yaw Buabeng Asamoah to probe the matter with the terms of reference to, among others, ascertain whether there was any wrongdoing.

After weeks of public and in-camera hearing, the partisan drama exhibited by the committee members could not have gone unnoticed.

James Avedzi hinted there was likely to be a dissenting opinion and after days of postponement for the release of the final report, the Minority released its own version, damning the Trades Ministry and the Millennium Excellence Foundation, the organizers of the Awards.

Dr Ayine said it is not an aberration for the minority to issue a dissenting opinion. The committee was expected to present a unanimous, consensus or a dissenting opinion

He said the minority members on the committee were forced to present a dissenting opinion when they were “surprised” by the chairman of the committee whose draft copy of the final report did not include their opinions.

According to him, that draft report was not a true reflection of the revelations made during the hearing and only set out to exonerate the Trades Ministry and organizers of the awards.

He, therefore, had to take his time to go through “sleepless nights” to write the dissenting report.

“It’s not a ‘wishy-washy’ report,” he said of his dissenting opinion but to his surprise, the chairman of the committee was unwilling to incorporate it into the final report, he alleged.

The Majority has not been available for comment but Ayine insists if their views are not heard on the matter, the leadership of the Minority will take a decision part of which may be to walk of the debate when the final report is opened for discussion.