OccupyGhana has written to the Attorney General requesting an update on steps being taken to enact the draft Conduct of Public Officers Bill, 2022 into law.
Below is the full letter
Our Ref: OG/2022/027
24 August 2022
The Attorney-General & Minister of Justice
Office of the Attorney-General & Ministry of Justice
RIGHT TO INFORMATION REQUEST ON THE STATUS OF THE DRAFT CONDUCT OF PUBLIC OFFICERS BILL, 2022
We write to request an update on steps being taken to enact the draft Conduct of Public Officers Bill, 2022 into law.
Once again, Ghanaians are faced with allegations of conflict of interest levelled against some government officials. And, once again, it is apparent that the debate will continue for a couple of days and simply die down, to be roused again on an undetermined future date when another issue arises. This is not a satisfactory state of affairs.
While the Constitution generally prohibits conflict of interest, the framers apparently left it to the wisdom of Parliament to particularise what Ghana would consider as prohibited conduct. This is what is currently lacking, and we are faced with the abject failure by successive Governments and Parliament to ensure the enactment of a law that would provide us with the necessary details of prohibited conduct. ‘Nature,’ it is said, ‘abhors a vacuum;’ but our political class love vacuums because they thrive in the uncertainty, either to exploit the situation or throw allegations at each other.
We note that although the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice has produced the 2006 Guidelines on Conflict of Interest, those Guidelines do not have the force of law, and do not appear to apply until a report is made to CHRAJ for investigations.
After almost 30 years of the coming into force of this Constitution, we finally have a Draft Conduct of Public Officers Bill, 2022, which attempts to set down the specific instances that would be caught under the general prohibition. However, this Bill remains a draft and, to the best of our information, it is yet to obtain Cabinet Approval before it is submitted to Parliament for debate, possible amendments and enactment.
If this draft Bill (with all of its imperfections) was the law, it would have, at least, informed the current debate as follows:
25. A public officer shall not hold shares or have an interest in a corporation, partnership or other body, directly or through another person, if holding the shares or having that interest will give rise to, or may reasonably appear to give rise to a conflict between the personal interest of that public officer and the functions of that public officer.
Award of contract
26. A public officer shall not award, or seek to award a contract or influence or seek to influence the award of a contract to
(a) the public officer;
(b) the spouse or other relative of the public officer; or
(c) a corporation, partnership or other body in which the public officer has a personal interest.’
We do not want to believe that Cabinet is either reluctant to approve this Bill or pussyfooting around it. What we are certain of is that Cabinet is not treating the Bill with the urgency that Ghanaians deserve. That is why on 29 May 2022, OccupyGhana issued a Press Release that demanded the following:
(1) the President summons an emergency cabinet meeting for the sole purpose of approving the draft Bill;
(2) the Attorney-General provides a clear timeline on when he will submit the Bill to Parliament;
(3) Parliament ensures that it passes the Bill into law before it rises for the long vacation.
As is obvious, Parliament has risen for its long vacation without the Bill even attaining Cabinet approval.
We therefore write to you, in the exercise of our constitutional and statutory right to information, to provide us with information about the status of the Bill, and a clear roadmap that answers the questions that we posed on our Press Release, and which we have repeated above.
Yours in the service of God and Country,
cc. The Chief of Staff
Office of the President
The Executive Secretary
Right to Information Commission