Government has refuted claims by some Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) including CDD-Ghana that it acted in bad faith by asking Daniel Domelevo the Auditor General to proceed on his accumulated leave for 167 days.
The CSO’s are not happy President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo ignored other options that would have allowed the A-G to independently discharge his duties without any interference.
They believe the legal justification presented by the President for directing the A-G to proceed on leave is untenable and derails government’s commitment to fighting corruption.
The CSOs have pledged to go to court for redress and further interpretation of the law should the government refuse to reconsider its decision.
Reacting to this, Information Minister, Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah said the position by the CSO’s is a move that strengthens Ghana’s democracy but rejected claims that Domelevo’s by force leave will derail the fight against corruption.
Mr Nkrumah said: “What is happening today, I think it’s good for our democracy. You’ll recall that this is not the first time a sitting President has exercised the powers under the labour act reference to somebody in the audit service in this manner.
“I do not recall civil society groups coming together to do a press conference and to launch a hastag to say that that action was unconstitutional and must be reversed as it is happening in this particular matter and I think that, that is a growth of our democracy that when civil society groups believe that they hold a position that they firmly hold onto, they should be able to come forward and take it up a notch higher beyond what they would have done at lectures in times past and I think that is a growth in our democracy.
“But we respectfully disagree with them. If it is their view that the actions should not have been exercised because in their opinion it will undermine Ghana’s ranking on international platforms when it comes to anti-corruption fight, I’m sure there will be others who will disagree with that.”
President Akufo-Addo directed Mr Domelevo to take his accumulated annual leave of 123 working days effective Wednesday, 1 July 2020.
A statement released by the office of the President and signed by the Director of Communications, Mr Eugene Arhin on Monday, 29 June 2020, said: “The President’s decision to direct Mr Domelevo to take his accumulated annual leave is based on Sections 20(1) and Labour Act, 2003 (Act 651), which apply to all workers including public office holders such as the Auditor-General.”
Mr Domelevo is said to have taken only nine days leave.
But reacting to the directive from the president in a letter address to Nana Asante Bediatuo, the Secretary to the President, Mr Domelevo said: “My knowledge of recent labour and practice in the country is that no worker is deemed to have accumulated any leave on account of their having failed, omitted, neglected or even refused to enjoy their rights to annual leave, which the law guarantees for their benefit, not the employer.”
He stated that to the best of his knowledge, therefore, “wherein any given year a worker fails, omits, neglects or even refuses to take their annual leave such leave is deemed forfeited with no corresponding obligation on the part of the employer to enforce the workers right to take their leave by assuming, deeming or declaring the forfeited leave accumulated.”
“I am also informed that by law, every person is entitled same in very limited circumstances to wave what the law has ordained for their benefit, in this case, a worker’s leave. Be that as it may, the directive that I proceed on leave and hand ‘over all matters relating to the office to Mr Johnson Akuamoah’, with all due respect, has serious implications for the institutional independence of the office of the auditor general,” the letter said.
Mr Domelevo said he has been forced to make the points above as a result of the following observation: “Previous correspondence from the chairman of the audit service board (who works at the office of the senior minister, together with public pronouncement by ministers, make it clear that the Auditor-Generals work is embarrassing the government.”
Akufo-Addo increases Domelevo’s forced leave days from 123 to 167 after A-G’s protest letter
Following his letter of protestation to President Nana Akufo-Addo about the President’s 123-day ‘proceed on leave’ directive, Auditor-General Daniel Domelevo incurred 44 more forced leave days in a response by the Presidency.
In his protest letter, Mr Domelevo had argued that based on recent labour law and practice, “no worker is deemed to have accumulated any leave on account of their having failed, omitted, neglected or even refused to enjoy their right to annual leave, which the law guarantees for their benefit, not the employer.”
However, the President response, in a letter signed by his Executive Secretary Nana Asante Bediaduo, said: “First of all, for the avoidance of any doubt, your accumulated annual leave of 123 working days which you were directed to take with effect from Wednesday, 1 July 2020, was in respect of the period 2017 to 2019, which you had worked without taking any annual leave and did not include .