2 September 2021
The Acting Governor has issued a Proclamation stating that the General Election will be held on Wednesday, 13 October 2021. The Writ of Election has also been issued stating that the closing date for nominations will be 12 noon on, Wednesday, 29 September 2021, and lists the venues that will be used as Polling Stations. This year’s Election will be historic – the first under a ministerial system of Government.
Leading up to the General Election we continue to provide regular information articles on how a Ministerial Government will work.
This week’s focus is on the role of Ministers and Portfolio Directorates.
If you have any questions you would like to have answered in any of these articles please send them to the SHG Press Office via: Kerisha.Yon@sainthelena.gov.sh or on tel: 22368.
How many Ministers will there be?
There will be a Chief Minister and four other Ministers.
The Chief Minister and the four Ministers along with the Attorney General form the Executive Council.
How will Ministers be selected?
The Ministers are selected by the Chief Minister from the Elected Members of Legislative Council. The Chief Minister recommends to the Governor which Elected Members should be appointed and the Governor must follow the recommendation. The Elected Member must have accepted the nomination.
Who decides what departments and functions of Government Ministers will be responsible for?
The Chief Minister decides which portfolios each Minister shall have. The portfolios are made up of departments and functions of government. The Chief Minister recommends to the Governor which portfolios are to be allocated to which Ministers and the Governor formally allocates them. The Governor must follow the recommendations of the Chief Minister.
Can a Minister’s portfolio change?
The Chief Minister decides what portfolios Ministers have. He can recommend to the Governor that new ones are assigned or reassigned after the initial assignment. The Governor must follow the recommendation. A Minister could therefore start his term with one portfolio and end with another one.
What is the main role of a Minister?
Ministers will exercise general direction and policy control over departments assigned to them subject to the policies of Government.
Ministers need to report to the Chief Minister on their assigned portfolios and it is expected they will be accountable to Legislative Council for their portfolios including taking financial responsibility.
The operational delivery of policies and public services will remain the responsibility of the Portfolio Director and his or her public officials.
Who will Ministers report to?
The four Ministers will be accountable to the Chief Minister who will have oversight of their performance.
Does anyone report to a Minister?
Not directly. However, Ministers will have political responsibility over officials. The Directors of Government Departments will also act as chief policy advisors to relevant Ministers.
Where will Ministers work from?
Ministers are expected to work from an office at the Public Service Directorate of their respective portfolio.
Can Ministers be dismissed?
The Chief Minister can recommend to the Governor the revocation of an appointment of a Minister. The Governor would then revoke the appointment.
If a Minister is dismissed, will there need to be a re-selection of all the Ministers? How would this work?
If a Minister leaves their office the other Ministers do not have to be re-selected. If the Chief Minister leaves their office then all of the Ministers they appointed would need to step down and a new Chief Minister would make their selection of four Ministers. The current Ministers will continue in their roles up until the point a new Chief Minister is elected.
What relationship will Ministers have with Public Service Directors?
The Minister with the allocated department will exercise general direction and policy control over the department and will work closely with the Director and Senior Management team. The Director will, in turn, act as chief policy adviser to that Minister on matters within the directorate’s responsibility.
Portfolio Directors and their Senior Management team should develop a productive working relationship with their Minister and advise him or her on policies, services and legislation being developed.
How will Ministers be held accountable for their decisions?
Ministers are accountable to the Chief Minister for their decisions.
Ultimately the Chief Minister is accountable to Legislative Council for decisions made by their Ministers but Ministers could also be held accountable for their decisions through:
- Scrutiny Committees set up under the Constitution
- Public Accounts Committee meetings and reports
- Questions from Elected Members on Legislative Council including those on behalf of the constituents in their geographical district
- Debates on motions in Legislative Council
- The Ministerial Code of Conduct.
Thank you to those who submitted questions last week and which have been included in this issue. In our next issue we will look at the role of Executive Council. Please send in any questions you may have by 12noon on Monday, 6 September 2021, via the contact details above.
These Information Releases are also available online at: https://www.sainthelena.gov.sh/government/legislative-council/general-election-2021/
2 September 2021