Our cross-carpet article must be interpreted and enforced as written. It must not be interpreted and enforced as written in Namibia because the Namibia version was available, considered and rejected by our framers:
Thus, in Namibia, the law is:
“Article 48(1)(b): Vacation of Seats
Members of the National Assembly shall vacate their seats if the political party which nominated them to sit in the National Assembly informs the Speaker that such members are no longer members of such political party.”
But in Ghana the law is:
“Article 97(1)(g)(h) TENURE OF OFFICE OF MEMBERS
A member of Parliament shall vacate his seat in Parliament if he leaves the party of which he was a member at the time of his election to Parliament to join another party or seeks to remain in Parliament as an independent member; or
(h) if he was elected a member of Parliament as an independent candidate and joins a political party.
“Article 99(1)(a) DETERMINATION OF MEMBERSHIP
The High Court shall have jurisdiction to hear and determine any question whether the seat of a member has become vacant.”
It should be obvious that while Namibia puts political parties and the Speaker in charge of cross carpeting, we put the MP and a high court in charge.
This reflects the varied history of the two countries and choices that their respective framers have made that balance the interests of the MP, political parties, constituents, the national purse and the national interest.
To sum up, our law does not empower the political parties to vacate parliamentary seat by informing the speaker that an MP is no longer a member of the party.
Rather, our law restricts carpet crossing to the four walls of parliament. That is, our law concerns itself with whether an MP has changed her affiliation in parliament during a specific legislative term.
Fomena is not in Namibia and must not be subject to Namibia law.
By Prof. Kwaku Azar