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Opinions Mon, 11 Nov 2019

Disciplinary committees, another 'Ghana matter'

In July this year, an Accra High Court ordered Ghana Education Service (GES) to reinstate Augustine Mac-Hubert Gabla and pay his salary arrears outstanding from 2013.

The court ruled that GES had failed to follow due process and the principles of natural justice; Gabla had been “constructively” dismissed in a manner that was unlawful, capricious and against his fundamental human rights.

In October 2018, the supreme court of Ghana determined that Professor Mawutor Avoke was not removed from his position as vice-chancellor of University of Education Winneba (UEW) under the right procedure.

The powers that be have since not restored order at UEW.

Such stories are common in ghana.

Where a disciplinary procedure code exists but people do not follow it, we know in exactly what category to place them.

Saying that there is a precedent and thereby depending on a spurious equivalence – especially of mediocrity, is where the ghana problem or matter, starts.

Should we not instead resolve to identify these historical weaknesses, learn from them, and do the right things?

Is there ever a wrong time to do the right thing; is there?

So today if after a formal investigation, Alexander Afenyo-Markin, the MP for Effutu, has realised his error in supporting the removal of Professor Mawutor Avoke from UEW and is emphatic about correcting it there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

For every honourable and enlightened individual, it is the right thing to do.

Those who refuse to correct their mistakes even when it is pointed out to them are despicable and beneath contempt.

But surely the current UEW debacle should be far from over.

It ought to include WHY AND HOW PROFESSOR AVOKE was fired – which individuals were responsible through acts of commission and omission.

These findings must be followed up with punitive and corrective measures, not so?

That is what justice entails.

There are still A LOT of questions to be answered and things to be unravelled involving the President of Ghana himself who travelled all the way to Winneba and placed Professor Afful-Broni in the chair as vice-chancellor, the Ministry of Education, Professor Afful-Broni -himself yet again, the UEW Council, the minister for national security, National Accreditation Board, and many others.

Organisations that do not have a documented disciplinary procedure should adopt and codify one from those who do have a time honoured tradition of following the principles of natural justice, fair play and integrity.

Remember, it is against these three principles to invent some ad hoc disciplinary procedure just to punish someone – who for whatever reason, you do not like.

There are also organisations where all these procedures exist “on paper” but when people are determined to “show you where power lies” then you hear things like “no court can compel us to work with an employee we do not want to work with.”

Lord Justice Jackson in the UK Court of Appeal judgement in the case of Wingate & Anor v The Solicitors Regulation Authority has a clear definition of integrity for such groups.

“Integrity connotes adherence to the ethical standards of one’s own profession. That involves more than mere honesty…..A professional person is expected to be even more scrupulous about accuracy than a member of the general public in daily discourse.”

Finally, let us remember that group decisions and group actions cannot absolve us of individual responsibility and punishment for the wrong we do unto others.

Or is it that none of this is important in contemporary ghana?

Is it that we no longer have or adhere to any proper standards in this country?

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Columnist: Isaac Ato Mensah