Beeri Kasser-Tee, a Law Lecturer at the University of Ghana Law School, has observed that the conduct of the First Deputy Speaker, in Parliament on Tuesday was constitutional.
She indicated that the move was in tandem with the 1992 Constitution, provided the first deputy Speaker did not vote and did not see a constitutional breach to that, but there was a caveat to that.
The First Deputy Speaker, Joe Osei Owusu, at the parliamentary sitting on November 30, 2021 counted himself as the 138th Member of Parliament (MP) after he had earlier directed the clerks to count MPs present before the Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah- Bonsu, could move recession motion to reverse rejection of the 2022 Budget Statement and Economic Policy.“Honourable members, the numbers presented to me by the clerks at table is 137 of you plus me, MP for Bekwai, 138. Honourable members, for the avoidance of doubt, let me read out the constitutional requirement so that there is no confusion as to who can vote and what numbers are required to vote to take a decision,” he said.
According to Mrs Kasser-Tee, Article 104 (1) except as otherwise provided in the 1992 Constitution, matters of Parliament shall be determined by the Majority of members present and voting, with at least half of all MPs present.
“What this means is that before you take a decision, there must be at least majority of all members present and with me, we are 138 members and in terms of quorum, we had 138 present at the time of the vote then the quorum requirement would have been met including the deputy speaker in this case because the deputy speaker is a Member of parliament. He is part of the ‘all members of parliament (in article 104).
“He was present and is an MP so his constituency was present for purposes of quorum, for purposes of voting he was not entitled to vote, once he did not vote he was constitutionally right, if at the end of the vote we had 137 on one side and we had 0 on the other side then of course the rule says it requires majority in this case; a majority of the 138 present at the time,” Mrs Kasser-Tee pointed out.
The conduct of the Bekwai MP has generated a heated conversation with both the majority and minority caucuses divided over the issue.
The minority MPs insists it is an illegality, warning that the precedent being set will come back to haunt the majority side.
An all-majority side voted to approve the 2022 budget statement amid the minority missing from the chamber.