NDC Minority
March 18, 2022

Government Business in Parliament has not been smooth this week as a well thought-out plan is being implemented by Members of Parliament (MPs) from the Minority, National Democratic Congress (NDC) caucus.

The Issues of quorum when it comes to decision making or voting on a motion has been at the centre stage of the plan by the NDC MPs, a move which is believed to have been deliberately sanctioned by the party’s Functional Executive Committee (FEC) following the Supreme Court’s ruling that gave clarity on the voting rights of Deputy Speakers.

Since Tuesday, March 14, 2022, decision making on government business or voting on a motion has been left hanging by the House as a result of lack of quorum.

Private Member’s business in the House has however, been smooth, with the opposition MPs enjoying the space accorded them by the First and Second Deputy Speakers who have been rotating when presiding over sittings.

For instance, the NDC MPs had wanted to pull the breaks on the 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 so as to complete and equip two existing hospitals citing lack of quorum as their reason.

The Minority Leader and NDC MP for Tamale South, 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 which gave deputy Speakers voting rights.

“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 it’s 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 noted.

He added “therefore, you may not proceed with the question. This is a not a voting quorum. We don’t have a voting quorum and therefore, Mr. Speaker, Article 110 was to serve our purpose that we were masters of our procedures that have been called to question. We are no longer masters of it, no decision of the House without more than one half of this House”.

However, his fears were allayed by the Majority Chief Whip and MP for Nsawam-Adoagyiri, Frank Annoh-Dompreh, who craved the indulgence of the 2nd Deputy Speaker, Hon. 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 therefore granted by the Speaker, allowing the motion to be taken for Members to debate on it and deferring the voice vote to another day.

On Wednesday, March 16, 2022, the Majority Chief Whip and NDC MP for Asawase, Mohammed Mubarak-Muntaka, at the commencement of Government 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 since 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.

On Thursday, at the commencement of Government Business, the issue of quorum was 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.

“The law is about common sense and common sense is the law. And it is trite to learning that when a procedure is set down for rights to be exercised, it is that procedure alone that will have to be followed in exercising that particular rights. There are plethora occasions on that. 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. That this is the issue of quorum at commencement and at decision making you have to be guided by Article 104. There is no ambiguity about it. 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. We cannot whittle away it. Nobody can say Parliament we are the masters of our own rules. If we are masters of our own rules, where was Parliament before the Supreme Court gave the interpretation of the Constitution? Mr. Speaker, we should be careful not to be in contempt of the Supreme Court. So the rules must guide all of us in conducting business in this House. The issue of whether something is happening in our constituency is never here nor there. The law must be followed according to its spirit and letter”, he noted.

His position was heavily supported by the NDC MP for South Dayi, Rockson-Nelson Etse Kwami Dafeamekpor.

The position taken by the NDC MPs follows their commitment to a plan the party took when the Functional Executive Committee of the umbrella family met over the Supreme Court ruling that gave clarity to Article 102 and 104.

The plan was documented in a leaked letter dated Tuesday, March 14, 2022 of which the NDC MPs committed themselves to doing the following:

  1. That we the Minority Group in Parliament will boycott this year’s State of the Nation’s Address.

  1. That we shall ensure that there will be no quorum in the week of the E-Levy debate.

  1. That the Minority in Parliament shall frustrate the Deputy Speaker anytime he presides over the House.

  1. On the ruling by the Supreme Court, the party will sponsor Justice Abdulai to seek a review of the case.

The leaked document addressed to all members of NDC Parliamentary Group, All Members of Functional Executive Committee and National Communications Committee was signed by the party’s General Secretary, Johnson Aseidu Nketiah.