IEA’s WTA committee proposes formula for selecting political leaders

The Institute of Economic Affair’s Advisory Committee set up to look into the Winner-Takes-All system in Ghana’s politics is proposing an electoral formula for selecting political leaders.

The proposal, targeted mainly at the country’s Legislature, will have only 200 seats in Parliament open to competitive election. The remaining 75 seats will be distributed proportionally to minority parties and marginalised groups including women.

Dr Rose Mensah-Kutin, a member of the Advisory Committee made this known at an IEA Winner Takes All Constitution Review Workshop held in Accra, Wednesday.

The proposals cut across key areas of Ghana’s political landscape including the Council of State, the presidency, Political Parties, the National Development Planning Commission etc.

The Advisory Committee is also strongly proposing that the Council of State should be converted into a second chamber of Parliament and made an elective position.

That way, the Council will be completely autonomous and will not be seen as an appendage of the president.

Perhaps the most common yet controversial proposal was the call to halt the appointment of MPs as ministers.

The Advisory Committee members whose proposals were the product of comprehensive research and consultative meeting with key stakeholders hold that all ministers must be appointed outside of Parliament.

“When an MP is appointed Minister, he must resign from Parliament and a by-election held,” former CHRAJ boss Emile Short who is also a member of the Committee said in his presentation.

That is one of the ways of strengthening the institution of Parliament, he argued.

But the proposal provoked strong reactions from participants of the workshop.

Former Works and Housing Minister, Hackman Owusu Agyemang completely objected to the proposal against appointing MPs as ministers.

He said from his personal experience as MP and Minister there was no point in considering a proposal that would totally alienate MPs from the executive arm of government.

He said an MP who makes promises based on a party’s manifesto and is elected to Parliament as a result of those promises cannot be taken out of the process of actualising those promises once elected.

Hackman Owusu Agyeman said it will be a “complete disservice” to the country if the IEA succeeded in pushing the agenda of complete separation of powers.

But his view was sharply rebutted by another participant, a Ugandan who believes the dual role of MP and Minister is recipe for disaster.

She observed, having also been in a similar situation in her country, that MPs focus on their constituents alone instead of the wider needs of the country when they play a dual role as ministers.

Former Director General of GBC, Eva Lokko also supported a complete separation of powers but added there was the need to “flesh out more on how that could be achieved.”

The committee also agreed to the state funding of political parties but stated the funding regime must be based on a certain benchmark.

The Advisory Committee is also calling for a ceiling on the amount of cash that can be spent on campaigns by political parties.

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