A group called Good Governance Platform-Ghana (GGPG) says it is “shocked” at the “unimaginable directive” by President Nana Akufo-Addo to Auditor-General Daniel Yaw Dormelevo to proceed on his accumulated leave.
GGPG noted that taking cognisance of the fact of good governance practices, “it is strange that the President would give such a directive; deceptively claiming to have taken a cue from a similar action taken by Prof John Evans Atta Mills (late).”
According to the group, “per standard labour practice, accrued leaves which are not taken are, accordingly forfeited and as such, the A-G must not be forced to proceed on leave, especially in the manner it was carried out since the Constitution does not support the action.”
GGPG, in a statement, noted that the records as they have under the late Prof. John Atta Mills, indicate that the then-Auditor-General, Mr Edward Duah Agyemang, was due for retirement and was asked to take his accumulated leave into retirement and not a leave to later return as it is being witnessed in Mr Domelevo’s case.
“Again, it appears very troubling, unbelievable that the same Edward Duah Agyemang, who, among other things, as an outgoing A-G, accused others of unfair treatment, will, today, as Board Chair of the same Audit Service, connive with others to frustrate a succeeding Auditor-General and his staff. The natural expectation would have been that the former Auditor-General would, in the larger interest of Ghana, give his successor all the needed support to work but that is not to be,” the statement said.
GGPG pointed out that it has gathered that the by-force Presidential directive to the A-G partly had to do with an impending audit of the government’s COVID-19 expenditure, which, according to the group, the “government seems not prepared for.”
The statement further said “only two days into A-G Daniel Domelevo’s by-force leave, Kroll & Associates and Senior Minister Osafo-Maafo are being given a clean bill of health by an Acting Auditor-General. As to whatever the real motives are, we, of GGPG, do not believe it sends a good signal about a President who wants to fight corruption”.
“This seeming connivance to variously frustrate the current A-G and his work at a time corruption has engulfed Ghana, leaves a lot to be desired.”
The group noted that article 187 of the 1992 Constitution frowns upon interferences in the work of the A-G and has, therefore, called on the current and future governments to uphold the dictates of the Constitution to ensure good governance and an appreciable democracy.
Akufo-Addo asks Domelevo to proceed on accumulated 123-day leave
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo directed Mr Domelevo to take his accumulated annual leave of 123 working days effective Wednesday, 1 July 2020.
According to records available to the Presidency, Mr Domelevo has 123 working days of accumulated annual leave.
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 officeholders such as the Auditor-General.”
Per the Act, “a worker is entitled to annual leave with full pay, in a calendar year of continuous service which cannot be relinquished or forgone by the worker or the employer”.
However, since Mr Domelevo’s “appointment as Auditor-General on 30 December 2016, Mr Domelevo has taken only nine working days of his accumulated annual leave of 132 working days.”
The statement made reference to 9 April 2009, when the third President of the 4th Republic, Prof John Evans Atta Mills, directed the then-Auditor-General, Mr Edward Duah Agyeman, to take his accumulated annual leave of approximately 264 working days.
It further continued: “President Akufo-Addo paid attention to the precedent in directing the Auditor-General to take his accumulated annual leave of 123 working days”.
Mr Domelevo “has been further directed to hand over all matters relating to his office to Mr Johnson Akuamoah Asiedu, the Deputy Auditor-General to act as Auditor-General” until his return.
Domelevo ‘fights’ Akufo-Addo’s “proceed on leave” directive; says his job is embarrassing gov’t
Subsequently, Mr Domelevo responded to the President, saying an employer cannot force an employee to go on leave when the employer voluntarily forfeits his/her leave days, as such, the directive from President Akufo-Addo to him to proceed on leave when other government appointees have not proceeded on leave, since their appointment, give the impression that the decision is not taken in good faith.
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 constraint to make the points above as a result of the following observation:
According to him, “Previous correspondent 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.”
He further stated that: “The office must have been aware also that several appointees of the President have not since the year 2017 taken their annual leave to date. The direction, therefore, that I proceed on leave oblivious of the other workers similarly circumstance gives the impression that the decision is not taken in good faith.”
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 Akufo-Addo about the President’s 123-day ‘proceed on leave’ directive, Mr Domelevo incurred 44 more forced leave days in a response by the Presidency.
The Presidency’s response to Mr Domelevo’s protest letter, 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 2020. If, however, you have decided to include your annual leave for the year 2020, then it is expected that you will resume work after a well-deserved leave of 167 working days, with effect from 1 July 2020.”
The Presidency also said: “It is necessary to correct the wrong impression you have sought to create in the public domain regarding the President’s directive to you to proceed on your accumulated annual leave. The President has, at all times, acted based on sound legal principles, the rule of law, and good governance practices, and the good people of Ghana will not be misled by your lack of understanding of the position of law, for which you may be forgiven since you are not a lawyer.”
“Accordingly, the directive of the President stands as amended above to the 167 working days with effect from 1st July 2020. While this letter is being sent to you through normal channels, we have taken the liberty to publish it publicly in the same medium by which your letter came to our attention. Please accept the President’s best wishes”, the statement noted.