Statement on the Status of Ghana’s 1992 Constitution Reform Exercise Tuesday 22nd October, 2019

ACCRA, GHANA — Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen. On behalf of the Election Community of Practice and Learning (ECOPL), I welcome you to this Press Conference. We are especially grateful to all media houses here present, for responding positively to our invitation.

The Election Community of Practice and Learning (ECOPL) is a coalition of 23 highly recognized civil society organizations, media houses, activists, independent constitutional bodies and political parties working together to positively mobilize and influence critical stakeholders within the governance landscape. Our aim is to harness and share lessons on emerging issues including but not limited to general electoral management and reforms in Ghana. ECOPL has four priority areas, namely: Constitutional reforms, peace and security, election credibility and inclusivity, and ICT tools in elections management. You may visit our website and social media handles to follow our work.

Today, we are here to officially outdoor our campaign to demand from government, an official notice on the status of implementation of the recommendations of the Constitution Review Commission (CRC), of which over 90% were accepted by government in a White Paper issued in June 2012 as well as the roadmap for the implementation of the recommendations.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Ghana has been operating the 1992 Constitution since January 1993 following a national referendum. The Constitution embodies many features that seek to foster accountable, open, transparent and participatory democratic governance. There are, however, some deficits.

Flaws in the constitution: in design and practice, have concentrated too much power in the executive arm of government undermined systems of checks and balances; denied marginalized groups true participation in governance affairs of this country; and generally, have weakened and impeded the effectiveness of oversight institutions such as Parliament and other independent constitutional bodies. This has translated into a failure of formal democratic institutions to give voice to the poor and other marginalised groups.

Against this background and following many fervent calls by Ghanaians to fine-tune the Constitution in order to advance the key democratic gains made since the return to constitutional rule; a Constitution Review Commission was formed in January 2010 under the Commission of Inquiry Instrument, 2010, C.I 64. The commission was tasked to consult with the people of Ghana on the operation of the 1992 Constitution and on any changes that need to be made to the Constitution. It was also tasked to present a draft bill for the amendment of the Constitution in the event that any changes were warranted.

Six key areas were developed to guide the commission in its work, including:

  • Voice and the building of citizenship;
  • subsidiary Constitutional powers of parliament;
  • control of executive power;
  • parliamentary autonomy;
  • resource governance; and
  • enhanced citizens-government engagement

The Commission in its report noted that the 1992 Constitution is a resilient foundation for good governance in Ghana. It has been the basis of the flourishing institutions under the Fourth Republic and has potential for guiding the evolution of the nation’s institutions towards peace, prosperity and a good life for its people. The Commission however, found that there are many areas of the Constitution and of constitutional practice that need to change.

Following the submission of the CRC’s final report which recommended changes in the current constitution, the government of Ghana issued a White Paper on the CRC’s report and set up a Constitutional Review Implementation Committee (CRIC) in 2014 to move forward the process.

The Elections Community of Practice and Learning ECOPL noted the following actions after the Submission of the CRC Report:

  1. Government Issued a White Paper on the Report of the Constitution Review Commission. In the White Paper, Government accepted over 90% of the recommendations of the Commission;
  • From our checks, we have noted that following the formation of the implementation committee, a constitutional amendment Bill was prepared by government; We are interested in finding out what happened to the Bill.

We also note that after the 2016 general elections and the subsequent change in government, nothing substantial has been heard or done to implement the recommendations from the constitution review exercise. There is also no clear or detailed implementation action plan of which Ghanaians can hold government to account.  We are extremely concerned that the US$6.3million (GHS28.4million) spent on the exercise will be yet another waste of scarce resources if the process is not revived and sustained.

  • We have taken cognizance of government’s demonstrable political will to see through only one of the recommendations out of the 99 accepted in Government’s white paper which is the election of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs). We all are fully aware, that this was however in furtherance of fulfilling a party manifesto pledge.

But Ladies and Gentlemen, we deserve better governance. We deserve a leadership that will put country first, not party first. Thus, the usual political posture that gives prominence to party agenda is a great disservice to the many non-partisan Ghanaians out there who vote for positive change and progress. Given the highly partisan nature of governance in Ghana, the constitution review process requires a strong collective involvement/action of civil society actors that will sustain the objectives of exercise void of the usual politicking and in the interest of the state and citizens.

We acknowledge Government’s effort to put the issue of the constitution on the fore burner by making 7th January a national holiday to mark the constitution i.e. (Constitution day). |In that regard, a public lecture was held on January 7, 2019, at the Academy of Arts and Sciences in Accra. Professor Philip Ebow Bondzie-Simpson, Rector of the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), delivered the lecture. He called for the implementation of the recommendations of the constitutional review process.  Again, the Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, also noted that the constitution day “is a day for reflecting on how we have come here, what the Fourth Republic constitutional democracy is, the parts that are working well that needs to be deepened and those parts that need to be examined.” The ECOPL believes that a constitutional day without the full implementation of  the recommendations from the CRC process, a process which examined the constitution and made recommendations; makes no sense if we cannot implement the recommendations from a process we all agree is set to strengthen our constitution.

Ladies and Gentlemen, in conclusion:

  1. We call for an official declaration of the status of implementation of the recommendations of the Constitution Review Commission (CRC) and the current members of CRIC;
  2. We call on the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo to ensure that the Constitution is amended holistically, inclusively and transparently in accordance with the aspirations of Ghanaians;
  3. We also call on the media to help us in reviving the conversation around the implementation of the constitutional review recommendations by informing the public through your news and programming. It is only possible when we work together. And we make this just call as it is the obligation of the state to do so.
  4. We also call on civil society organisations to revive the conversations on the implementation of the constitutional review recommendations by engaging and mobilising citizens to pull ardent support for the constitutional review process. Citizens can only lend their support to this important initiative only when they are well informed about the process.
  5. Finally, we call on citizens to join us in demanding form Government, update on the implementation of the constitutional review recommendations and the roadmap for implementing same.

To press further our demands, The ECOPL will be undertaking a High-Level stakeholder dialogue on the status of the implementation of the Constitutional review recommendations.

The overall purpose of the dialogue is to revive national interest in the constitutional review process. Specifically, it will create opportunities to: 

  • Surface key issues for stakeholders’ actions on taking forward the recommendations from the Constitutional Review Process;
  • Update key stakeholders on the status of implementation of recommendations accepted by Government;
  • Agree broad framework to ensure government’s consideration and implementation of constitutional reforms.
  • Agree next steps for engaging key stakeholders including CRIC on the implementation of the CRC recommendations.

God bless our homeland Ghana!

ECOPL.

OUR MEMBERS:

  1. NORSAAC
  2. Odekro PMO
  3. CDA Ghana
  4. People’s National Convention (PNC)
  5. Convention People’s Party (CPP)
  6. National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE)
  7. National Peace Council (NPC)
  8. Caritas Ghana – Catholic Bishop’s Conference
  9. Citi FM/Citi TV
  10. Media General
  11. EIB Network (STAR FM)
  12. Ghana Community Radio Network (GCRN), Radio Ada
  13. Ghana Journalists Association
  14. Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana)
  15. Institute for Democratic Development (IDEG)
  16. Musician Union of Ghana (MUSIGAH)
  17. 4H Ghana
  18. SocioServe Ghana
  19. Nsempo
  20. Amnesty International, Ghana
  21. West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP)
  22. Ghana Federation of Disability Organisations (GFDO)
  23. Participatory Development Alliancc (PDA)

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