Reshuffle: Why Betty is good for Justice


Business Strategist Mr. Kofi Bentil and Mr. P.N.K. Aborampah Mensah, a Program Officer of the Center for Democratic Development

(CDD-Ghana), are hailing the retention of Mrs. Betty Mould Iddrisu as the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice.

They believe those who argue that she should have been affected by President Mills’ Monday reshuffle and moved out of the A-G and Justice Minister portfolio on the basis that ‘she has been losing cases’ are wrong and may have their appreciation of how the justice system must work skewed.

The two who contributed to Joy FM’s Super Morning Show discussions Tuesday on President John Evans Mills’ reshuffle of his appointees, agreed that the persons complaining would have been the same persons to be heard loud if verdicts were all going the direction of government and pontificate that the government was interfering in the work of the judiciary.

For Kofi Bentil, he was not the least surprised that President Mills decided to retain Betty Mould Iddrisu as the Attorney-General and Minster of Justice.

“No I’m not surprised and I would ask the people who are wondering why she is still there what is the problem. I have heard a lot said about Betty Mould losing cases; we all have to agree that when you take a case to court you may win it or lose it and the person who makes a better argument in front of the judge must win. The fact that political authority is not brought to bear necessarily to make sure that people go in a particular way is not a negative. So on the surface of it, Betty Mould losing cases is not a problem. What we must look at is what is really her mandate, what is she supposed to do and let’s measure whether she is doing it or not.”

Kofi Bentil said on the contrary, he would desire a debate on whether or not we need an Attorney-General, but “on the point of losing cases, I would like to go easy on changing people just because of that. The same people, if the government was winning cases would have come back to complain that ‘how come every case is going the way of the government’, but we need to look at things differently and then weigh Betty-Mould differently from whether she is winning or losing cases.”

Aborampah Mensah also maintained that the Attorney-General cannot be faulted on ‘losing cases’ alone.

“Don’t forget in President Kufuor’s era and Tsatsu Tsikata’s case, the NPP lost the case; President Kufuor came back into the country and revamped the Supreme Court and they won the case; what happened there? Some of us in the NGOs criticized that move …that it doesn’t go with law, it doesn’t go with the constitution, it’s something that contravenes justice and it is not good. The fact that Betty has been losing cases and they are accepting that they have lost even though they are in government shows that she is trying to allow the system to work by itself.”

Aborampah Mensah rather urged the government’s lawyer to streamline the work of the security agencies so that ‘strange’ persons or others without clear identity do not accost persons and prevent them from travelling abroad because they are suspected to be involved in matters under investigations.

“But for people criticizing her because she is losing cases it’s not accepting that the law must have its course…”

The two however differed in their opinions of the appropriateness or otherwise of the removal of Dr. Kwabena Donkor as Deputy Energy Minister.

According to Kofi Bentil, he was not surprised at the decision because he did not think Dr. Kwabena Donkor “did a really sterling job” given the management of the country’s energy needs and the needless energy crisis everyone had to endure.

“No I was not surprised. In fact I was on a TV programme with Dr. Kwabena Donkor and I criticized his management of the Energy Policy and this was about a month before we ended in the [Energy] crisis and he didn’t seem to agree with me but some of the things that we said at that programme are exactly what happened. I don’t dispute the fact that Dr. Kwabena Donkor has quite some experience but when it comes to managing it at this level , I don’t think he did a really sterling job.

“The fact on the ground of what happened in terms of the energy crisis that we had earlier in the year tells that there was something very, very amiss. Let’s be fair, no one person necessarily controls energy policy in Ghana or can necessarily change much but it is important that the political leaders in the place manage things such that we don’t end up in the kind of crisis that we ended up in, so I’m not particularly surprised that he’s been made away with.”

While P.N.K. Aborampah Mensah, agreed that no individual can change policy much, he also believes Dr. Kwabena Donkor’s removal is shocking in the face of his replacement – Inussah Fuseini, a lawyer.

Stressing the difficult task of attempting to explain a reshuffle especially when the appointing authority has not offered any such explanations and the president cannot be forced to explain anything, he said the crisis alone cannot be cited as enough reason for Dr. Kwabena Donkor’s exit, given that he is not the ultimate authority on policy directives when there is a substantive minister.

Daniel Batidam, Executive Director of the African Parliamentarians Network Against Corruption, commenting on the presidents appointment into his executive team, some members of the leadership of Parliament (Majority Leader Alban Bagbin, Majority Chief Whip E.T. Mensah and Deputy Majority Leader John Tia all being offered ministerial positions) said the appointments weakens the capacity of parliament to strengthen its oversight duties over the executive.

John Tia is now proposed for Information Minister, E.T. Mensah is heading to Employment and Social Welfare while Alban Bagbin goes as Water Resources, Works and Housing Minister.

“Definitely seeing that leaders in parliament especially from the ruling government are being drafted into the executive is certainly a matter of concern. We think that it is important especially with the current arrangement under our constitution, to have a parliament that is able to develop other ways of holding the executive in check, as such even while we understand that in the current state of affairs our constitution requires a certain number of ministers to be appointed from Parliament, I think the particular persons you have mentioned and the positions that they occupy are people who were demonstrating some level of commitment to strengthening parliament.”

He said given that background, the appointments will definitely take a toll on work in that direction – building the capacity of parliament to hold the executive in check.