The quality of debate in Ghana’s parliament over the years has dipped due to a decline in the quality of persons elected into the 275-member chamber, Minority Leader Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu has said.
The Suame MP blamed the situation on the system of election of MPs in the country, where “the door is flung open” every four years for incumbent MPs (no matter their performance) to be contested.
In his view that had only led to a “crystal clear” drop in the quality of discussions in the legislature, adding that a perusal of the Hansard would bear him out that “things are getting out of hand”.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu expressed the concerns in an interview on Accra FM on Tuesday June 14, 2016
In his view, the work of parliament “demands experience”, which is enriched when an MP stays longer in office to more efficiently carry out the second arm of government’s core duties of law-making, oversight responsibilities, and controlling the state’s purse.
However, he disclosed that the ability of wealthy persons to grease the palms of delegates and make grand assurances to the population, which subsequently get them elected to parliament, had changed the dynamics.
“Today, if we are being honest with ourselves, most of the people coming to parliament are moneyed individuals – however they chanced upon their money – and distributing cash among delegates for votes. Because of the poverty in the country, most of them take the money and vote for him,” he explained to Chief Jerry Forson, host of the show.
“He makes several promises and once he gets into parliament and realises he does not have the power to honour them, he is unable to contribute to discussions on the floor of parliament and just leaves the chamber”. He said because of that, usually not more than 20 persons contribute regularly to debate on the floor from both sides. “Most are not even interested in the law-making functions of parliament, most are not interested, and they don’t want to be interested, yet that is the principal responsibility of MPs,” he noted.
According to him, most legislators stay away from sittings of the house, only getting mobilised to vote on controversial bills in parliament after which they promptly exit the house.
“So, parliament is losing its focus and increasingly, we are allowing moneybags into the house. We are not helping ourselves,” he added.
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