Parliament’s Privileges Committee (PC) has recommended that the House should declare the Dome Kwabenya parliamentary seat in the Greater Accra Region vacant.

The sitting Member of Parliament for the constituency, Sara Adwoa Safo, has been absent from the House virtually the whole of this year (2022), in clear breach of Article 97 (1)(c) of the 1992 Constitution.

Asaase News sources familiar with the committee’s report indicated that it was completed on Tuesday 26 July 2022 and tabled in the House on Wednesday 27 July 2022.

Prolonged absence

The source indicated that the committee accepted the explanations given by Henry Quartey, Member of Parliament for Ayawaso Central Constituency, who is also the Greater Accra Region Minister and Kennedy Agyapong, Member of Parliament for Assin Central Constituency in the Central Region, for what accounted for their prolonged absence from Parliament beyond the 15 sitting days allowed.

Forfeiture of seat

Sara Adwoa Safo, on the other hand, failed to show up before the committee since it was mandated by the Speaker on 5 April 2022, to investigate the circumstances under which the three MPs, absented themselves for more than fifteen sitting days within the first meeting of the second session, per the records from the Clerks at Table.

The law according to Article 97 (1)(c) of the 1992 Constitution which states that:

“A member of Parliament shall vacate his seat in Parliament if he is absent, without the permission in writing to the Speaker and he is unable to offer a reasonable explanation to the Parliamentary Committee on Privileges from fifteen Sittings of a meeting of Parliament during any period that Parliament has been summoned to meet and continues to meet”;

Is clear that once an MP absents herself from the House that long, she forfeits her seat unless she proffers an explanation that is deemed reasonable. Once the decision is taken as it was on Tuesday 26 July, the seat becomes vacant.

Reshuffle

Beyond her Parliamentary removal, her job as substantive Minister of State responsible for the Gender, Children and Social Protection portfolio, has also been in sharp focus in public discourse both on social and mainstream media.

There are those who have called on her to resign as Minister of State. Others have called on the President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, to remove her from her post as Minister.

In the event that President Akufo-Addo, carries out his much anticipated re-shuffle of his government, it is expected that he will appoint a substantive Minister to replace Sarah Adwoa Safo.

Potential replacements

Potential names of persons in government and those out of government who are being considered or may be appointed to replace her according to Asaase News sources at the presidency, include the current Deputy Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, and Member of Parliament for Walewale Constituency in the North East Region, Lariba Zuweira Abudu.

Mrs. Cecilia Abena Dapaah, the Minister for Sanitation and Water Resource who is currently the caretaker Minister for the Gender, Children and Social Protection ministry in the absence of Adwoa Safo, is among those to be considered for the job.

Some other persons under consideration are Freda Prempeh, Minister of State in Charge of Works and Housing and Member of Parliament for Tano North Constituency and Sheila Penelope Bartels, Member of Parliament for Ablekuma North Constituency, in the Greater Accra Region.

Leave extension

President Akufo-Addo on the 6 October 2021, extended the leave of absence from office for the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Sarah Adwoa Safo.

In a statement signed and issued then by the Director of Communications at the Presidency, Mr Eugene Arhin, it was explained that Mrs Safo’s leave was to have ended on 31 August 2021.

Ms Safo’s leave was granted by the President on health grounds. In her absence and until further notice, President Akufo-Addo directed the Minister for Sanitation and Water Resources, Cecilia Abena Dapaah to act as caretaker Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection.

Her absence has thus not been felt in anyway, in that, her job has, according to staff at the ministry, been carried out competently by the acting Minister, Cecilia Abena Dapaah, and the Deputy Minister, Lariba Zuweira Abudu.

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