A number of opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) Members of Parliament (MPs) are under threat of facing the Privileges Committee of Parliament following their alleged misconduct during voting on some ministerial nominees by the legislature.
A public interest group, Alliance For Footsoldiers Advocacy (AFFA), has petitioned the Speaker of Parliament, Alban S.K. Bagbin to refer the NDC lawmakers who took photos and videos of how they voted during the approval of the ministerial nominees last Friday.
AFFA cited Ibrahim Murtala Muhammed, MP for Tamale Central; Abla Dzifa Gomashie, MP for Ketu South; Zanetor Agyeman-Rawlings, MP for Korle Klottey as the culprits of the brazen act and argued this is against the law.
The petitioners argued the MPs in their hasty quest to purge themselves from the opprobrium subjected to the minority caucus by the rank and file of the NDC, made disclosures via their official social media handles and interviews with the press.
AFFA appealed to the Speaker to therefore summon these MPs before the Privileges Committee in a televised session, to justify the cause of why they must not be sanctioned.
The action of the NDC MPs, the group decried, was an abuse of their privileges, and a flagrant violation of the 1992 Constitution and Standing Orders of Parliament and therefore should be punished.
“For the avoidance of doubt, Article 49(1) stipulates that at any public election or referendum, voting shall be by secret ballot.
“Order 109 of the Standing Orders of Parliament also states, ‘There shall be secret voting in the House in respect of—(b) the election or removal of a person holding office under the Constitution or a law made under the Constitution.
“It is AFFA’s contention that, communicating to any person any information on the secrecy of a public vote (in this case, the election of Ministerial nominees), via text, picture or video or audio-visual is a breach of the laws of Ghana,” the group stated.
Some NDC MPs were said to have taken pictures and videos during voting on President Nana Akufo-Addo’s ministers to indicate they were not part their colleagues who voted for the approval of the ministers in defiance of a directive from their party to reject them.
According to AFFA, it is scandalised by this development, because, as custodians of legislation, it behoves MPs to lead by example to avoid subjecting the august House of Parliament to ridicule.
It that stressed that sobriety and discretion cannot and must not be lost on the MPs.
Reprimanding the recalcitrant Parliamentarians for their unparliamentary conduct, the group pointed out, will serve as a deterrent against future occurrences.
Readers will recall during voting on the floor of Parliament on Friday, 24th March 2023, in respect of President Akufo-Addo’s ministerial nominees, some MPs from the Minority side of the House took their phones to the polling booth and took pictures and videos of their votes.
Parliament approved the nomination of the six ministers appointed by President Akufo-Addo despite a desperate attempt by the NDC to block the process.
This followed hours of secret voting on Friday 24th March 2023 with the Minority expected to do the party’s bidding and reject the nominees.
However, some MPs from the Minority broke ranks and voted to approve the new ministers.
The NDC had last month expressed concern over the large size of the government after President Akufo-Addo made the nominations for the ministerial positions following, primarily, some resignations from the administration.
In a statement issued on 19th February 2023 and signed by the General Secretary, Fifi Kwetey, the NDC directed the Minority caucus not to approve any of the new ministerial nominees and to further push for a reduction in the size of government with a view to reducing the needless drain on scarce public resources.
“In this moment of haircuts, the most important thing the government can do is to do a ‘Governmental haircut’. Our directive to the minority in parliament, we believe strongly aligns with the genuine sentiments of most Ghanaians. Enough is enough,” the statement said.
The Minority, however, failed to marshal its members leading to the House approving the new ministers after the results of the voting were announced by the Speaker: KT Hammond – 154 YES votes, 116 NO votes and one rejected ballot; Bryan Acheampong – 167 YES votes; 98 NO votes, four rejected ballots and three abstentions; Asamoah Boateng – 147 YES votes, 122 NO votes and 3 abstentions; Mohammed Amin Adam – 152 YES votes, 117 NO votes, 1 rejected ballot and two abstentions; OB Amoah – 149 YES votes, 120 NO votes and 3 abstentions and Stephen Amoah – 146 YES votes, 123 No votes and 3 abstentions.