How obsessed Minority MPs have become with issues of quorum for business and decision making in Parliament appears to give credence to the content of a leaked NDC letter on how to frustrate the business of government.
The letter is at the centre of a plot allegedly endorsed by the party’s Functional Executive Committee (FEC) to frustrate government business.
The plot follows the Supreme Court’s ruling that gave clarity on the voting rights of Deputy Speakers.
The plot was revealed earlier this week, with NDC MPs allegedly committing themselves to agree to frustrate the work of the Executive and Parliament as a consequence.
Since last Monday, decision making on government business or voting on motions had been left hanging by the House as a result of lack of quorum. Private Members’ business in the House had, however, been smooth, with opposition MPs enjoying the space accorded them by the First and Second Deputy Speakers, who have been rotating when presiding over sittings.
So vile is the plot that in one particular instance, the NDC MPs schemed against a motion for approval of a €38million loan agreement between the Government of Ghana and Deutsche Bank of Frankfurt for the construction of 40-bed district hospitals in three constituencies as well as complete and equip two existing hospitals.
They had forcibly cited lack of quorum as their reason, without allowing the processes to fully roll out. Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu told the House that the sitting lacked the required numbers for a decision or voting to be taken, based on interpretation of Articles 102 and 104 by the Supreme Court.
“Mr. Speaker, we are all in this country, the Supreme Court has ruled and provided a dichotomy between a debating quorum and decision or voting quorum pursuant to Article 102 and 104 of the Constitution. Looking at the composition of this Parliament, Mr. Speaker, I’m sure we will be in contempt of the Supreme Court if we proceed to put a question when we do not have a voting quorum. As is required in Article 104 and the ruling of the Judges of the Supreme Court, we are no longer masters of our procedures by that ruling,” he argued.
The Majority Chief Whip, Frank Annoh-Dompreh, however, craved the indulgence of the 2nd Deputy Speaker, Andrew Asiamah, who presided over the sitting, to allow the motion to be taken and put on hold the question for the voice vote for another day.
His plea was granted by the Speaker, allowing the motion to be taken for Members to debate on it, while deferring the voice vote to another day.
Similarly, on Wednesday, the Minority Chief Whip, Mohammed Mubarak-Muntaka, at the commencement of business, gave the green light for the House to go ahead with the items listed on the Order Paper, but cautioned against taking a decision or voting on motions, insisting that the House lacked quorum to do so.
In the process, voting on motions such as that of the Supplementary Appropriation Bill, 2021, and the Criminal and Other Offences (Procedural) (Amendment) Bill, 2021, were all put on hold.
At the commencement of business yesterday, the issue of quorum was also raised by the NDC MP for Akatsi South, Bernard Ahiafor, again citing the recent Supreme Court ruling to back his case, when the House was about to consider the Budget Performance Report in respect of the Legal Aid Commission 2021 and others.
He argued that the law is about common sense and common sense is the law. In his opinion, therefore, “trite learning” requires that when a procedure is set down for a rights to be exercised, “it is that procedure alone that will have to be followed in exercising that particular rights…”
“Mr. Speaker, as we speak now, there is no ambiguity about Article 102 and Article 104 of the 1992 Constitution. The Supreme Court has taken the trouble in the case of Justice Abdulai Vs the Attorney General to explain clearly to the understanding of an ordinary person, guided by all those considerations that regulate the conduct of human affairs.
“The issue that should guide us is that at commencement, do we have the quorum based on the constitutional provision interpreted by the Supreme Court? At the time of decision taking, do we have the majority of members present to take that decision? Going forward, these should be the guiding principles…The law must be followed according to its spirit and letter,” he stated.