Financially Assisting Constituents Is Not Vote Buying, It Is Show Of Appreciation – Sam George

Ningo Prampram MP, Sam George, has refuted claims by some of his colleague MPs that monetisation of political party elections by candidates is undermining the quality of legislators elected into the House, ABC News can report.

Sam George argues that it is culturally acceptable for a Ghanaian to show appreciation to another who has been of great help and, thus, considers the assistance given by Members of Parliament to their constituents as a mere show of appreciation.

Expressing his reservations to a call for parliament to consider laws that regulate campaign financing in Ghana, the Ningo-Prampram MP stressed, “Growing up as kids, even you’re your parents did their parental obligations towards you, We were brought up to still say thank you. We have a culture of gratitude as Ghanaians.”

He suggested that the MPs were being hypocritical about the matter stating that, “it is interesting that today, Ras Mubarak is raising concerns about campaign financing. Four years ago, I don’t think that would have been an issue. When we all went into the primaries and we all had to spend. There is nobody in this House, Rt Hon. Speaker, we are men of integrity or we ought to be men of integrity, who will say that they have gone into an election without necessarily having to meet the needs of their people.”

Sam George was contributing to a debate triggered by a statement made by Kumbungu MP arguing for legislation to kick out monetary influence in our political campaigns and elections.

He advocated “for parliament to enact legislation that will compel politicians and parties to disclose their source of funding and put a cap on how much individual Ghanaians running for elections can take by way of donations from individuals and institutions” ABC News can report.

“How many of us can say that we have complied and haven’t at any time broken the law?” he quizzed his colleagues while pointing to the what happens in other jurisdiction, “The USA by all accounts struggled with campaign finance laws but eventually they made some significant progress in that regard.”

Despite the dissenting views by a few legislators, his statement was in principle, accepted by the majority of parliamentarians in the House.

Whereas Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu, Majority Leader, remarked that there is the need for the discussions to commence at the party level where the constitutions and regulations guiding internal party elections should be reviewed, Muntaka Mubarak, Asawase MP and Minority Chief Whip said monetisation is driving experienced legislators out of the House.

Referring to the recent NDC parliamentary elections, about 9 sitting MPs, some of whom he describes as experienced and knowledgeable decided voluntarily not to seek re-election. This he explains has resulted in constant change in the membership of the House, thus, making the House lose experienced legislators

“…Our colleagues opposite, 169, 89 members are new, more than half are new members. If you come to our side, out of 106 we have 42 are new members. The House is just growing younger and younger because so long as you are going to use payment system as a way to win your primaries and win your elections to come to this House, Mr. Speaker, you can guarantee that the experienced once in this House will just walk away” he noted.

“Leadership could go to places like Japan and the US to look at their legislation, to speak to people and to take a lead with the view to enacting similar or same laws here,” he suggested.