The Speaker of Parliament Rt. Hon. Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin has cleared the misconception in the media space on issues regarding which Parliamentary caucus forms Majority and Minority in the 8th Parliament of the 4th Republic.
Speaking on the floor of Parliament during the first sitting of the 8th Parliament, the Speaker said, he hasn’t said that the New Patriotic Party (NPP) has a majority in Parliament but said with the association of the independent candidate, they have a majority group.
He therefore reiterated that, no political party has a majority in Parliament the 8th Parliament as at now.
He further explained that, he referred to the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the Independent Candidate for the Fomena Constituency Andrew Asiamah Amoako as Majority Group and not Majority political party. According to him, no political party has the majority, besides the good people of Ghana have not decided on some of the MPs yet.
Speaking on the floor, the leader of the New Patriotic Party Parliamentary caucus Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu reffered to himself as Majority leader of the House but he was put to order by the Rt. Hon. Speaker who instructed him to immediately withdraw the statement since no side of the House has been duly declared Majority and Minority. The Speaker therefore refers to Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu as Hon. Member Parliament for Suame but not Majority leader.
Parliamentary Caucuses and Parliamentary groups are two different things when it comes to parliamentary business. A group is made up of more than one political party where as a caucus is made up of members of a single party. The highest numbers of one political party determines the majority and not group. Meanwhile, both NPP and NDC have 137 seats each in the current Parliament with one Independent Candidate.
Article 96 (1) of the Constitution 1992 regarding the positions of Deputy Speakers said:
“There shall be two Deputy Speakers of Parliament;
(a) who shall be elected by the members of Parliament from among the members of Parliament; and
(b) both of whom shall not be members of the same political party.”
Also, “Article 97(1) A member of Parliament shall vacate his seat in Parliament:
(g) if he leaves the party of which he was a member at the time of his election to Parliament to join another party or seeks to remain in Parliament as an independent member; or
(h) if he was elected a member of Parliament as an independent candidate and joins a political party”.
“Notwithstanding paragraph (g) of clause (1) of this article a merger of parties at the national level sanctioned by the parties’ Constitution or membership of a coalition government of which his original party forms part, shall not affect the status of any member of Parliament.”
Clause (2) of the 1992 Constitution, provides the foundation for the provisions made in the Political Parties Act, 2000, Act 574, for the purpose of political parties in alliance under Section 20(1) (a) and (b). In this case, no alliance was formed ahead of the December 7th elections of 2020, and same cannot be purported to have been formed for the purpose of securing numerical advantage for the NPP.
Order 7 of our Standing Orders is a derivative of the constitutional provision in Article 97(1) (g) & (h) and clause (2). The provision is very clear as to what two minor political parties in Parliament can do and that is to form a coalition and caucus. That same provision forbids an independently elected Member of Parliament from entering into any “coalition” or joining any political party. If he/she does that, the seat will have to be declared vacant. So it is in the same vein that the Constitution also forbids a member who came to the House on the ticket of a political party will lose his or her seat if he or she decides to leave his or her party to become an independent member.