The Office of the President has reiterated its directive for the Auditor-General (A-G) to proceed on his annual leave or risk being subjected to what it described as ‘disciplinary control’ to ensure adherence.
According to a statement signed by the Secretary to the President, Nana Bediatuo Asante, the President is constitutionally mandated to ensure compliance in a manner that does not affect the independence of his [Auditor-General’s] office.
This follows Daniel Domelevo’s position against the directive to hand over to his deputy citing serious implications for its constitutional independence.
In an earlier letter responding to the foremost directive, the A-G explained that “(i) Previous correspondence from the Chairman of the Audit Service Board (who works at the Office of the Senior Minister) together with the public pronouncement by Minister makes it clear that the Auditor-General’s work is embarrassing the government.”
He also posited that the call for him to embark on the said action is an indication of bad faith on the part of the Presidency.
“(ii) The office must have been aware also that several appointees of the president, have not, since 2017 taken their annual leave to date. The direction, therefore, that I proceed on leave, oblivious of the other workers similarly circumstanced, gives the impression that the decision is not taken good faith.”
But the Presidency strongly disagrees.
A July 3 letter, articulating some clarity from the Office of the President, said the A-G’s letter “created a wrong impression” in the “public domain regarding the president’s directive” adding that the move by the President was backed by the law.
“The President has at all times acted on sound legal principles, the rule of law and good governance practices, and the people of Ghana cannot be misled by your lack of understanding of the law, for which you may be forgiven since you are not a lawyer.”
On Mr Domelevo’s point of a possible infringement of AG Office’s independence, Mr Bediatuo argued that “Per article 297(a) of the Constitution, that power to appoint includes the power to “exercise disciplinary control over persons holding or acting in any such office.”
“Thus, to the extent that you fail to comply with a basic term of your appointment such as taking an annual leave, The President has the power to exercise disciplinary action over you to ensure that you comply with the terms of your appointment.”
Per the letter, the law does not categorise the Auditor General’s Office under the list of institutions exempted from the scope of Ghana’s Labour Laws.
“According to the Labour Act, you could not forgo your leave and any agreement to relinquish your entitlement to your annual leave shall be void,” it read citing Section 31 of the Labour Act.
“You may therefore not agree with the President (your appointing authority) to relinquish your entitlement to the accumulated leave or forgo same. You may also not agree to be paid in cash in exchange for the accumulated leave. Any such an agreement would be void under section 31 of the Labour Act.”
The Office of the President also disclosed that the Auditor-General cannot offer to take cash in exchange for his leave saying any such development would go contrary to provisions under section 31 of the Labour Act.
“Thus, your assertions that you may waive your entitlement to annual leave is unlawful and misconceived.”
Mr Domelevo had, in his letter, purported that “previous correspondence from the Chairman of the Audit Service Board (who works at the Office of the Senior Minister) together with the public pronouncement by Minister makes it clear that the Auditor-General’s work is embarrassing the government.”
But the Office of the President is of a different view. Nana Asante Bediatuo believes “the President has ensured that you have been provided with all the necessary resources needed for the effective running of the office of the Auditor-General and considers your work a critical part of good governance.
Meanwhile, “the directive of the President stands, as amended above to 167 working days, with effect from 1st July, 2020” to include that of 2020.
The earlier 123-day accumulated leave directive was “in respect of the period 2017 to 2019.”