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Do Our MPs Represent Us Or Their Pockets?
 
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04-Jul-2017  
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Ghana’s law-making body, Parliament, is under siege and going through an intriguing phase. The corruption tag, perceived or real, which is currently hanging on the legislative body is most worrying and becoming embarrassing each passing day.

Since the Seventh Parliament was inaugurated on January 7, 2017, it has been embroiled in a number of challenges, key among them being allegations of corruption, some of which have proved not to be true, while others are under investigation or remain to be investigated.
 
Clearly, these negative perceptions the citizenry have about our Parliament can go a long way to undermine the integrity of members of the House if they are not addressed.

The Seventh Parliament in the Fourth Republican dispensation began on a promising note, with members on the Majority and the Minority sides giving an early indication that they were in the House to hold the Executive in check, as well as have oversight responsibility over the public purse, all in the collective interest of the country.

But many months down the line, no day passes without one corruption scandal or another, perceived or real, rocking the august body.

Last Sunday, at a former schoolmate’s burial, I was at my lowest ebb when recent parliamentary corruption scandals became the topic for discussion. Many of the discussants were not charitable at all with the performance of the legislative body and some even wanted to know the calibre of MPs who represent the people in the various constituencies.

In their view, if good governance, equitable development and democracy were to be sustained in the country, a lot would depend on Parliament and the type of representation that shaped the focus of MPs.

Sadly, just as the country appears to be taking one step forward and two steps backwards in its development strides, 57 years after attaining Republican status, so it appears to be with the Legislature.

All over the world, the one most important symbol of democracy is the institution of Parliament. This is because it has the sole monopoly of making laws for countries.

Tourists in the house

Having examined all seven Parliaments under the Fourth Republic, which began on January 7, 1993, one really is at a loss as to the calibre of parliamentarians who represent the people. Do we, as citizens, know for certain what our MPs actually and really do in that august House? Are the MPs in that house to represent themselves, their political parties or their constituencies?

While some MPs can easily be seen to be doing their work well for the wellbeing of their constituencies and the nation as a whole, others seem to be self-serving and at best engaged in needless and endless partisan politics.

Relatedly, many others can be considered as “mere tourists in the house” who have resigned themselves to their duties as “clue-less backbenchers”.

In the overarching interests and development of the country, a lot is expected from our honourable MPs who are first and foremost the people’s representatives.

As delegates of the people, it is not for the fun of it that every four years the Ghanaian electorate, as early as dawn on voting day, go to the polling centres to cast their votes in order to elect their representatives for Parliament. What this group of highly favoured elected citizens who end up in Parliament do in that august House should and must be the concern of the electorate and, for that matter, the citizenry.

Without doubt, the key job function of every MP in a democratic setting such as Ghana’s is to legislate, act and speak in the collective interests of the people he or she represents. Anything short of this expectation is unacceptable. This is because it is primarily through such deeds and actions by our legislative body that the interest and wellbeing of the larger society will and can be secured.

Non-partisan practices

From all indications, Ghana, as a whole, needs to clean its system and Parliament, as a body, cannot escape blame. There is the imperative need for the nation as a whole to commit to good governance practices devoid of partisanship.

 Can we as a nation speak the truth on national development and reconstruction issues?

As it happened some time ago when Ghana was assured of securing a $3-million Chinese facility which never materialised,

can we, for a certainty, say that there is a $19-billion Chinese facility in the offing, as disclosed by Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia?

The hopes of Ghanaians have once again been raised to the heavens with this $19 billion facility, but the question to ask is: can we truthfully say that the money is coming?

Can all political players in Ghana sink their individual and partisan considerations for the common good and development of the country? After all, multi-party democracy does not mean partisanship.

As a nation, we are very quick at dismissing one another. Instead of political parties seeing one another as partners in development, they rather engage in acts of “pull him down”, only to win political power and the cycle repeats itself.

The winner-takes-all policy is not doing any good to the country’s well being and must be cast away.

We need leaders who are committed to governing their people according to the rule of law, the principles of democratic accountability and respect for individual liberties and human rights.

Interestingly, all political parties in Ghana profess to be working in the collective interest of the people, but, strangely, when they are in power they are seen to be largely working for a section of society or party interest.

Ghana needs to breed a new generation of leaders who will run the country on non-partisan considerations which will help bring dignity and prosperity to the nation and its people.

Transparency and accountability

As citizens, we must also demand transparency and accountability from our political leaders. This is because the nation needs verifiable information for national development. It is good to be vigilant and duly diligent, but too much noise is needless.

 

 


 


 
 
 
Source: Kobby Asmah/Daily Graphic/email;[email protected]
 
 

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