Article 71 is not the problem; you allow leaders to abuse it – Prof Kwaku Azar

Prof Asare  Kwaku Azar .png Prof Stephen Kwaku Asare is a US based lawyer

Mon, 19 Jul 2021 Source: mynewsgh.com

A public intellectual, Prof Stephen Kwaku Asare, known better as Kwaku Azar, has argued that Article 71 of the constitution, which talks about emoluments for high-ranking public servants, is not to be blamed for the controversy surrounding their emoluments since the citizenry has allowed leaders to abuse it.

For him, there are limitations on the power of our leaders to determine their emoluments so blaming Article 71 is misplaced given that it is the citizenry that has allowed for it to be abused.

He contends that even though similar emoluments exist in other jurisdictions such as the United States of America, citizens have refused to allow the leaders, beneficiaries of the law, to abuse it to their benefit.

“Article 71 is not the problem. The problem is that Ghanafuo allows Article 71 to be abused and paradoxically blames Article 71 for allowing their leaders to abuse it.

Yet, Article 71 is a mere emolument clause. As with almost everything else, our leaders can do only as much as the public allows. That is, there are political constraints on our leaders’ power to determine their emolument.

Most constitutions have an emolument clause. The worst emolument clause can be found in the US Constitution at Article 1 section 6, which allows its legislators to determine their own compensation,” he argued.

He explained that when citizens take a stand against their leaders’ attempt to exploit the emolument clause for their parochial benefit, it prevents the clause from being abused as pertains in Ghana, insisting that it is not the leaders (particularly Parliament) that resolved to not take advantage of the clause but the citizens refused to allow it.

“Yet, the US legislators have not been able to exploit their emolument clause. Not because they are supra-legislators or superhumans.

In fact, as far back as 1816, they raised their compensation of $6 per sitting day to $1,500 a year. As one observer puts the citizens’ reaction to this Salary Grab Act, “the thunder-clouds of national indignation roared above. The storm broke. The whole nation seemed to tremble in the convulsive spasms of political hysteria. Every Congressman who had voted for the bill was attacked with the venom of personal hatred. “Pirates,” “looters of the Treasury,” “thieves,” traitors to the people” were the epithets bandied about the country. Private robbery and public plunder “was the favourite characterization; denunciation and retort, violence, abuse and clamour filled the whole country.”

But it was not just indignation and condemnation. Almost everyone who voted for the Salary Grab Act was defeated in the next election and the next Congress unsurprisingly repealed the Salary Grab Act. Congressional salaries were not addressed for four decades.

Today, even though the law theoretically allows an annual cost-of-living adjustment, the lawmakers usually vote to decline the raise,” he revealed.

His comments come on the back of controversy surrounding payment of Article 71 workers as recommended by Prof Yaa Ntiamoah-Baidu.

Source: mynewsgh.com
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