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Opposition Member Of Parliament Asks Colleagues To Apologize To Ghanaians

An opposition member in Ghana’s parliament is calling on his colleagues to apologize to Ghanaians for failing to discharge their duties when they confirmed the former Minister of Roads and Transport Richard Anane. MP Benjamin Kumbuor, who represents Lawra-Nandom and serves on Parliament’s Appointments Committee, spoke with VOA English to Africa reporter Peter Clottey about his call for parliamentarians to apologize to Ghanaians. The opposition politician says his call for an apology resulted from an investigation conducted by Ghana’s Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), which found that Anane committed perjury and used government funds to pay his girlfriend.

“This statement was made in relation to the recent findings by the Ghana Human Rights Commission on the Transport Minister, The Honorable Anane. But I thought if anybody was entitled to an apology, it should rather be the people of Ghana, because I am convinced that Anane did not mislead the parliament of Ghana. The parliament of Ghana put itself in a position to be misled. And to this extent, if they had availed themselves of almost all the legal tools right from the parliamentary committee to the floor of the House, devoid of partisan political considerations. It should have been possible unanimously to decide that, based on how Anane performed at the vetting; he should not have been approved as a minister. Now it gets very embarrassing when about two years down the line, after that approval, issues arising show that if we had done our work a bit more diligently, we would insist that we should not appoint him. And the President will have nothing else to say,” Kumbuor said.

Anane is said to have told the committee in February 2005, when he appeared before it for vetting, that he did not transfer more than 10,000 dollars to US citizen Alexandria O’Brien, with whom he has a son. In its investigations, however, CHRAJ said that about 100,000 dollars was remitted to O’Brien.

MP Kumbuor says that Minister Anane’s confirmation by Parliament was by no means unanimous.

“We on the minority opposed it, and we voted openly against it. So the records of parliament will show. But because the majority had the numbers, they got him approved,” he noted.

Kumbour says although the minority in parliament has been exonerated, some sections of the media are faulting all parliamentarians for lack of due diligence.

“We have been exonerated but there is a type of cynicism in Ghana, I have been reading in the media. And that has been a pattern. Anytime the minority draws attention to a difficulty, and walks out or votes against it or decides not to take part, subsequently when it’s discovered that the minority is right, it is turned around in the media and presented as if it’s the entire parliament that actually failed the country,” he said.

Kumbuor explains that Parliament has the power to redress the error he claims was committed when Anane was confirmed.

“Definitely a matter like that when Parliament reconvenes can be referred to the Privileges Committee and Dr. Anane would be asked to appear to show why she should not be punished for contempt of Parliament. And I think that if the facts as established by the Human Rights Commissioner are anything to go by, it presents a very serious matter,” he said.

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