Pharmacist and Fellow of the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), Kwame Sarpong Asiedu, has expressed concern about the apparent indecision on the fate of the Health Minister, Mr. Kwaku Agyeman-Manu.
He stated that the failure of the Ad hoc Committee that probed the Sputnik-V vaccine procurement, to recommend sanctions against the Health Minister as well as the impasse in Parliament, over a vote of no confidence against him, makes him cringe.
“And one of the things I found interesting was that the Minority was trying to move for a vote of no confidence on the Minister and the Majority was having none of it. And the Second Deputy Speaker did not rule on it, and adjourned it probably till thy kingdom come,” he said.
According to him, the seeming lack of direction of Parliament concerning the issue and its no-show of political will to bring the Minister to book for his many shortcomings, undermines the mandate Ghanaians have given them.
“The question I asked myself at that point is, what exactly are we aiming for as a people? Because this is a Parliamentary Committee. Parliamentarians hold office in trust because we vote for them as our representatives. They represent us and we have put an executive officer who is the Minister, in position.
“They tell us the Minister has breached so many things. In fact, the Minister through his actions, has lost money because now the contract has been abrogated and we’ve paid for almost 150,000 doses of which we’ve received 20,000 doses. So now, we’re 130,000 doses short. But there’s no recommendation as to what happens to someone who has engaged in this. There are flagrant violations of all the laws!” he said on JoyNews’ Newsfile Saturday, August 7.
He, however, advised that accusations that the Minister may have committed perjury for allegedly bearing false witness under oath before the Ad hoc Committee, should be moderated.
His reason was that following the hearing, a letter dated August 3, written by the Legal Adviser of the Ministry of Health appeared to insinuate that the payment of 50% of the contract sum for the Sputnik vaccines was done on the blind spot of the Health Minister.
This, he says could indicate that the Minister on the day of the hearing, indeed had no idea of any payments while bearing testimony before the Committee.
He was, however, quick to point out that the said document leaves much to be desired.
“I am not saying that I believe it in its entirety, we’ve all seen the documents. The question I ask myself is, based on that letter, who was in a hurry to make the payment and what was in it for that person? Because we’ve seen the people who signed all these letters. They’re known figures, some of them are Civil Servants and the payment went through the Bank of Ghana.
“So if it turns out that the Minister had broken all these laws, could we say that he committed perjury? Or he wasn’t in control of his mandate?
“Because I would also struggle to see how such a payment could go on when the Minister had told all of us that he was so concerned about Ghanaians. And we were not in normal times and he was acting primarily to save all of us, not knowing that the payment had been made when he so desperately needed the vaccines,” he said.
“So these are the grey areas for me and for the Parliament of Ghana to see all these documents, with all this information, Parliament cannot come to a decision and the Second Deputy Speaker sitting in for the Speaker cannot make a ruling, then I only cringe.
“That’s all I can say. I cringe. Because I don’t know who else can make a ruling based on the information we have,” he concluded.