General News of Monday, 22 October 2018
The attempt by the Auditor-General, Daniel Yaw Domelevo, to embarrass President Akufo-Addo over the dismissal of Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA), Gifty Klenam, has backfired.
Daniel Yaw Domelevo, who is in a hurry to be in the news once again, displayed his lack of understanding of constitutional matters by claiming that the president has no power to dismiss the GEPA boss and her two deputies.
Mr. Domelevo, who has adopted a method of parochially interpreting the constitution to suit his agenda at the Audit Service and sideline members of Board, criticized the president for dismissing the GEPA boss, describing it as “irregular and improper.”
The GEPA boss was sacked in June, this year by President Akufo-Addo after she was accused of recklessly spending on activities outside the remit of the company which is in dire need of funds to boost its operations.
She allegedly spent $20,000 on a weekly training programme at Harvard University, USA.
Ms. Klenam and one of her deputies were said to have received $132,000, equivalent to GH?580,800 as rent covering a period of two years in gross violation of state procurement laws.
Reacting to the dismissal of Ms. Klenam after a special audit at GEPA, the Auditor General, who interpreted a 1969 law wrongly, averred that the president has no such powers to dismiss the public servant, suggesting that the minister of trade should have been the appropriate person to dismiss her even though she was appointed by the president.
A memo from Mr. Domelevo to GEPA warns that President Akufo-Addo’s dismissal of Ms. Klenam amounted to an illegality and could lead to judgment debts against the state should she decide to take the matter to court.
He quickly circulated the said memo in the media in order to dent the image of the president.
“This anomaly borders on matters of legality and the associated implications thereof. This could, therefore, result in legal suit by the former Executive Secretary against the state which could lead to judgement debt being awarded against the state.
“We, therefore, urge the office of the president to ensure that the termination of the appointment of officers is done in accordance with applicable laws and regulations to ensure good corporate governance,” the memo noted.
But the assumption by the Auditor-General sharply contradicts Article 297 (1) of the 1992 Constitution, which gives the president implied powers to appoint and sack people in the public service.
The Office of the President has not taken kindly to the misconstrued interpretation of the constitution and the Ghana Export Promotion Authority Act by the Auditor-General, which could be described as a subtle attempt to disgrace the president and impute wrongdoing on his part.
In a letter to the Audit Service, the President’s Office “disagreed strongly” with the contents of Mr. Domelevo’s memorandum and his views on the dismissal of the GEPA officials.
“The views were “mischievous,’ not supported by law and remain his view, as the president is backed by the constitution to appoint and dismiss the Executive Secretary of GEPA as guaranteed by Article 297 (1) of the constitution.
“In this constitution and in any other law, the power to appoint a person to hold or act in an office in the public service shall include the power to confirm appointments to exercise disciplinary control over persons holding or acting in any such office and to remove the persons from office”.
“Therefore, it is incorrect to assert that the president, who appointed the executive secretary of GEPA lacks the requisite power to remove the executive secretary of GEPA. It is also incorrect to make further categorical pronouncements that the removal of the executive secretary was irregular and improper and may give rise to a lawsuit, out of which judgment debts may be incurred. This is extremely speculative at best and mischievous at worst,” the letter from the Presidency said.
The letter pointed out that the Auditor General does not dispute the fact that the president has the power to appoint the executive secretary of GEPA and that he exercised the power regularly and properly.
“The president, being the proper appointing authority, was thus the only person who could remove Hon Klenam from office as executive secretary of GEPA and not, with all due respect, the Minister of Trade and Industry.”
It indicated that it’s indeed worrying that the Auditor General will wrongly interpret Section 3 (2) of the Ghana Export Promotion Authority Act, 1969 (NLCD 396) (GEPA Act) and an action of damages may be founded on his legal opinion.
Section 3 (2) of the Ghana Export Promotion Authority Act, 1969 (NLCD 396) (GEPA Act) states that “the appointment of the Council, other than the chairman, may be terminated by the minister if the minister is of the opinion that it is in the interest of the council to do so.”
The letter from the Presidency disclosed that the use of “may” in the said provision does not give the minister exclusive power to terminate the appointment of a member of the council.
“Indeed an absurd situation will be created if the minister was to remove the executive secretary as a member of the council when her appointment as executive secretary has not been revoked by the appointing authority, the president, as her membership of the Council is clearly ‘ex officio,” the letter pointed out.
The letter therefore maintained that the removal of Ms. Klenam from office was not irregular, improper or illegal as she was removed from office in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Constitution and the law.
“Mr. Domelevo must seek legal advice prior to making some of these categorical statements to impugn the President’s actions and to suggest that the office is engaged in illegal, irregular and improper acts.”