Slow Down The Pace Of Constitution Review Process

The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) has stressed the need for the nation to use the constitution review process as an opportunity to dispense with the ‘winner-takes-all’ system of governance and opt for a more suitable governance system.

An 11-member advisory committee of experts and eminent Ghanaians set up the IEA to pursue that mission is, therefore, asking the government to slow down the pace of the constitution review process to enable more public discussions, consultation, education and sensitisation on the government’s White Paper on the recommendations of the Constitution Review Commission (CRC).

“The committee is of the view that public and civil society consultations, awareness and vigilance in the review of the constitution remain crucial to mitigate the growing potential threats of political agitation and societal disintegration that the current system seems to be engendering,” a member of the committee, Justice Emile Short, said in Accra Monday.

Addressing a news conference on behalf of the IEA/Winner-Takes-All (WTA) Advisory Committee, he called for an extensive public debate on the report of the Constitution Review Implementation Committee (CRIC) and the draft Constitution Amendment Bill before holding a referendum.

“The committee appeals to the government to allow more time for the public consultation process to be completed and the recommendations integrated into the issues before the referendum,” the former Commissioner of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) said.

Constitution review process

After a nationwide consultation process on the review of the 1992 Constitution, the CRC submitted a report to the government recommending a wide-range of amendments to the constitution.

Subsequently, the government issued a White Paper on the CRC report, upholding about 95 per cent of the recommendations.

One of the overwhelming issues raised by Ghanaians during the CRC’s nationwide consultation process was the need to abandon the ‘winner-takes-all’ system of governance, which was identified as a major factor responsible for the growing polarisation of the country and politicisation of pertinent national issues.

However, the government, in its White Paper, rejected that recommendation.

Currently, the CRIC, which was set up by the government to oversee the implementation of the approved recommendations, is about completing its work with the drafting of the Constitution Amendment Bill, which is said to be receiving Parliamentary consideration.

Concerns of committee

But the IEA/WTA Advisory Committee believes the abolition of the ‘winner-takes-all’ recommendation must be incorporated into the proposed constitution amendments because it is a critical national issue.

Justice Short said the ‘winner-takes-all’ system of governance had put Ghana on the brink of social and political breakdown through perceived monopoly of political and economic clout by the winning party and threats of violence.

According to him, the news conference marked the beginning of a nationwide consultation process to seek consensus on the matter, as he called on the government to slow the constitution review implementation to allow for more input.

“The Government should create space and allow additional issues that may result from the committee’s proposed nationwide consultation process on the WTA system to be considered for possible inclusion,” he said.

Justice Short urged all stakeholders to fully participate in consultations on the constitution review process, adding, “This is to enable the country to achieve a stable democratic governance system and ensure that the constitution review process reflects the collective will of Ghanaians.”

Members of committee
The 11-member IEA/WTA Advisory Committee is chaired by the Metropolitan Archbishop of Accra, Most Rev. Gabriel Charles Palmer-Buckle, with Justice Short, Ms Hilary Gbedemah, Dr William Ahadzie and Rev. Dr Opuni Frempong as members.

The other members are Prof. Ivan Addae-Mensah, Dr Rose Mensah-Kutin, Prof. Stephen Adei, Mr Sam Okudzeto, Mr Kabral Blay-Amihere and Alhaji Khuzaima Mohammed Osman.

Most Rev. Palmer-Buckle said there was the need for a governance system that put emphasis on competence rather than political affiliation.

The Executive Director of IEA, Mrs Jean Mensa, said since the First Republic, the ‘winner-takes-all’ system had led to polarisation of national issues and consensus building, and so it was time to take a second look at that system