set up in December, 2009, when the elections became due and the Assemblies were dissolved, clearly, by the report of the Auditor-General, we saw subsequently a lot of financial malfeasance. So we thought the remit of the Committee would be to advise how to prevent the malfeasance that occurred between December, 2009 and March, 2010 when new Assemblies came to be sworn in after the dissolution of the previous one in December.
Mr Speaker, the other matter is what was raised by my Hon Colleague, the Member from Sekondi, when he said that underpinning this effort should be what should be done to continue democratic governance at the local level. That is the business of having the grassroot people being represented democratically at the level of local governance.
Mr Speaker, so, these are the matters that I thought should concern the Special Committee.
Mr Speaker, we have been reminded of the correctness in the directive given to the District Chief Executives (DCEs) to continue in office until the election and swearing in of the new Assembly members.
Mr Speaker, I would like to suggest that it cannot be correct that all of them should have that blanket cover. The reason being that, the constitutional provision that the Hon Deputy Minister pointed to, in respect of article 246 and Mr Speaker, I would like to read this for emphasis:
“(2) Unless he resigns or dies or he earlier ceases to hold office under clause (3) of article 243 of this Constitution, the term of office of the Distr ict Chief Executive shall be four years;…”
Mr Speaker, some of these District Chief Executives continued in office in March, 2010. As soon as the new Assemblies members were sworn in, they were nominated and confirmed by the Assemblies and they started operating, some of them late March and others in April of 2010.
It would mean that one month after the expiry of that Assembly, their own terms have also come to an end under the Constitution. So, if an Hon Deputy Minister issues a fiat, that they should continue in office, Mr Speaker, it would be for those of them in that category. That directive -- I hope the Hon Minister is listening to me?
That directive would offend the Constitution. He does not have any feet at all and he is quoting the Constitution to some of us, and he is saying to somebody, that person “claims to be a lawyer”. He is totally in breach of the Constitution by what he did.
At the moment, he may not be in breach, but Mr Speaker, I am telling him -- Hon in-coming Minister, you understand? I saw you nodding. What he did -- And for now, no, but I am suggesting to them that, those of them who were sworn in late March, 2010, and those of them who were sworn in April, 2010, Mr Speaker, their term would have expired a month or two months after 3rd March, 2015.
Mr Speaker, Hon Sorogho, I know has not even considered that, so he should listen and be taking notes. I think that the Hon Minister should take that one on board.
Mr Speaker, the fifth matter relates to the conduct of the Electoral Commission. The Hon Chairman of the Committee on Works and Housing was addressing the House and urging that, we be in communication with the Electoral Commission. The attention of the
Chairman of the Electoral Commission himself was drawn to article 296, that even if it is an independent Commission and has powers to act independently, he should exercise the discretionary powers conferred on him responsibly.
Mr Speaker, some of us in December, alluded to this in this very House, that having opened nomination before the 21st of December when the law was supposed to come into operation -- In fact, the expiry of the 21 Sitting days was December 21st, which meant that, he could only have acted after that period, he could not even have acted on December 21st. He could have acted beginning of December 22nd.
Mr Speaker, we told him here in a clear language, he would not listen -- and when he came here, he told us that he sent emissaries -- scouts, whereas we have our official person -- the Clerk to Parliament and the Speaker of Parliament, who authenticate Bills and pieces of legislation passed by this House.
He did not consult the Clerk to Parliament; he did not consult the Speaker, and he says he sent emissaries to this House who ill-advised him to do what he did. Yet we had sounded him that the path he was treading was going to lead to a tragedy. He would not listen, stiff-necked as he was. And he comes and offers a plaintive apology and the nation should just accept that?
Mr Speaker, I think it was irresponsible on the part of the Electoral Commission to have behaved the way they behaved. So, we should tell them, never again in the history of this country should this happen.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Member for Okaikwei raised the issue relating to article 298 of the Constitution and some of us indicated that, beyond that -- That is
assuming or clothing ourselves with the residual powers as provided under article 298 -- Some of us suggested that we could seek shelter under article 113 of the Constitution, which relates to Parliament anyway, but which we thought could be adopted with the necessary modifications to apply to the current situation.
Mr Speaker, I still believe that, we could seek some relief under article 113 (3). It would not be a constitutional amendment. We are not seeking to amend the Constitution for anyone to say that, once we go on that path, we would be seeking to amend the Constitution. We are not amending the Constitution; we are only borrowing from this provision, article 113 (3), which provides:
“Where, after a dissolution of Parliament but before the holding of a general election, the President is satisfied that owing to the existence of a state of war or of a state of public emergency in Ghana or any part of Ghana, it is necessary to recall Parliament, the President shall cause to be summoned the Parliament that has been dissolved to meet.”
Mr Speaker, it is my contention that, if we substituted -- Of course, we are not in the state of war, but we are in the state of some public emergency. So, we could substitute the District Assemblies in place of Parliament and tweaking it that way, adopting this with the necessary modifications, Parliament can come up with a Bill, which would then cover the situation that this nation is confronted with.
Mr Speaker, I believe that should be the path for us, because we do not want to tread that path again and allow the financial malfeasance that happened in 2009 and 2010 to happen again. It would