Since the inauguration of the fourth republican constitution in 1993, concerns have been raised about the effect of article 78 (1) on executive-legislature relations, the legislature’s oversight role and the workings of the legislature and the performance of legislators. The aim of this study was to examine legislators’ perceptions about the impact and implications of article 78 (1) on the work of legislators and the legislature, data for the study was collected in 2008 through semi-structured interviews conducted with twenty purposively selected minority and majority legislators of the fourth parliament under the fourth republic. The findings revealed that article 78.1 affects the work of legislators significantly. MPs reported that, the practice of appointing majority of executive ministers from the legislature has resulted in a reduction of time and energy legislators’ devote to parliamentary work. Also, legislator-ministers are either late or absent to the house as well as special parliamentary committee meetings. Majority of MPs reported that article 78.1 has not only rendered legislative oversight ineffectual, it has also made the legislature vulnerable to executive control and manipulation in several ways. MPs identified: (i) the absence of office space (ii) inadequate secretarial services and related ICT support services (iii) undue pressure from constituents for projects (iv) lack of logistical resources (v) weak technical support from parliamentary service workforce and (vi) the absence of competent research staffers as some of challenges of been a legislator in Ghana. The conclusions which emerged from the study are that, article 78(1) has not only subverted the powers and autonomy of the Ghanaian legislature, it has rendered its control over executive arbitrariness and excesses ineffectual. It has also rendered the principle of separation of powers useless and impracticable, plunging Ghana’s parliamentary development and democratic governance into a quagmire. Given the diversity of opinions on the matter, MPs suggested that Ghanaians would have to remain open to all shades of policy and reform proposals and critically examine all available options before proceeding with any amendment of the 1992 constitution. Further empirical studies would have to be conducted into the effects of the article and many other provisos on the legislature and Ghana’s democratic advancement in general.
Key words: Constitution, article 78 (1), legislature, legislator, Ghana.
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