The Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MOGCSP), Sarah Adwoa Safo, has deserted her duty post since late last year.
The last time she was seen executing public function was the day the majority side approved the controversial 2022 budget, after which the House went on recess.
It must be put on record that the appointing authority, according to a letter, had permitted her leave as Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection.
Weeks later, another letter emerged announcing an extension of her leave, even at a time the public had begun expressing concern over the lack of substantive minister at such a critical sector.
The Ministry is mandated to co-ordinate and ensure gender equality and equity, promote the survival, social protection and development of children, the vulnerable and persons with disability, and integrate fulfillment of their rights, empowerment and full participation into national development.
The mandate of the ministry places it at a very sensitive position in the structure of governance, as its tentacles spread to cover every nook and cranny of the country.
It is, therefore, not a pleasant sight to behold that for about half a year, such an important ministry is under a caretaker minister, who is already burdened with another ministry.
It is public knowledge that from time immemorial, when substantive ministers are incapable of performing their functions, a caretaker minister is appointed, mostly from amongst the other ministers of the government.
However, we believe that it should not take long like we are witnessing now, to have a replacement especially at a ministry with loads of responsibilities. The reason remains that one person running two ministries is a herculean task and the earlier something is done about the situation the better.
We are alarmed at the precedent being set, considering the kind of politics Ghanaians do, perfectly fitting a quotation from George Orwell’sallegorical novel, Animal Farm that “all animals are equal but some are more equal than others.”
We are yet to be convinced that the MOGCSP, for about six months, cannot have its own minister to run the affairs of the ministry, because one person is on leave. Is it for lack of qualified individuals?
In our opinion, regardless of the justification to render the MOGCSP as the bonafide heritage of one person, the government has opened the floodgate for others to follow the example. In future, the Adwoa Safo case would become a classical reference point in similar instances.
We do not think such a development is healthy for the growth of the said ministry, the image of the government and we do not think it boosts the morale of party faithful, especially those with the qualification and capacity to be appointed as ministers, but have not found favor with the appointing authority.
As we speak, caterers under the government’s School Feeding Programme are contemplating to stop cooking for our children in public schools, as prices of foodstuffs are skyrocketing. The school feeding programme is under the MOGCSP.
The caterers had expressed displeasure with the minister, Sarah Adwoa Safo for ignoring their plight. We will not downplay the influence of a minister over his or her ministry, especially during crisis period. It is for this reason that we commend the government for meeting the caterers yesterday, even in her absence, but it also does not negate our point that the government should come clear on the issue of a substantive minister for the MOGCSP.
The government should explain to the taxpayer, whose levies are being used to pay the minister, who has been on leave for about six months, why the sector should wait for her to return to post from her rather perpetual leave.
Perhaps, every politician, whose prayer is to find favor with an appointing authority, needs the grace of Adwoa Safo to safeguard their appointment.