Minister for Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs (MoPA), Mr. Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu has revealed that the introduction of monetary inducement which has characterised parliamentary primaries across the political space is a canker waiting to devour Ghana’s fragile democracy.
According to him most experience Members of Parliament (MPs) have lost their bid to return to the House during their parliamentary primaries because they had shallow pockets.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu made the revelation at a day’s forum organized by MoPA for the Core Leadership of Parliament in Accra.
The forum, on the theme: “Nurturing career legislators in Ghana: Prospects and challenges” was to critically examine prospects and challenges of nurturing career legislators in parliament.
The Parliamentary Affairs Minister stated emphatically that there is no established democracy anywhere, where at the end of the tenure of a parliament the floodgates are open for all kinds of people to contest sometimes very good and experienced MPs who serve as institutional memory of Parliament.
The Parliamentary Affairs Minister who also doubles as the MP for Suame, Majority Leader and leader of government business disclosed that in such porous situation MPs who committed themselves to parliamentary work get booted out fresh MPs due to money power.
Citing the recent primaries of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP), where some incumbent MPs who perform well in the House lost to new faces, the Suame lawmaker regretted the alleged monetization on which some would be MPs are riding to the House.
The Majority Leader hinted that in the constituencies where there is an incumbent MP, some of them lost because political parties had no control over them and also over those who contested and won by bearing their own cost.
Mr. Kyei-Mensah Bonsu was of the view that such lack of control on sitting MPs or their contenders, contributed to the high attrition rate from the House. Saying the current situation makes it difficult for individuals to nurture and develop themselves into career legislators in the House.
He therefore charged political parties to some introspect and amend their constitutions to enable them resort to other methods of choosing their MPs.
The Majority Leader suggested that in constituencies where a party has an MP, the leadership of the party in Parliament must be made to assess the performance of the MP on quarterly or every meeting basis.
He continued that reports must also be sent to all political parties’ headquarters as well as reports from the constituency, and these must form the basis to determine the standard assessment criteria where there is congruence of the two reports of good performance and behavior, the incumbent MP must be made to continue.
The Majority Leader said where there are differences the MP must be given the opportunity to straighten things up in the course of his or her tenure and if at the end of the term, he or she is stubborn, voting must be resorted to by allowing all card bearing members of the party in the constituency to vote.
“If that happens the monetizing of parties would disappear and the longevity of the tenure of MPs would ensue,” the Leader stressed.
At the same forum the Minority Leader in Parliament, Haruna Iddrisu confirmed that despite Ghana’s democratic story being a success in Africa, there was evidence of major threats to Ghana’s democracy through vigilantism and monetization of democracy.
The Minority Leader who is also the MP for Tamale South Constituency in the Northern region was of strong opinion that these things if not checked could undermine the entire democratic process and denied the people of Ghana the benefits of the democratic dividends.
“It appears that democracy in Ghana is for sale to the highest bidder,” he opined.
He said if care is not taken to tackle the issue of monetization of politics, Ghana’s democracy would become the preserve of the elite and wealthy in the future.
The Tamale South MP therefore stressed the need for major reforms of the political parties; the way they are organized and run, the determination of party leaders and as well as change in the process for the selection of MPs.
The Minority Leader underlined the need to define the roles for parties with MPs in parliament.
In his welcome address, the Chief Director, Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, Dr Evans Aggrey-Darkoh, reiterated that the Ministry’s aim for the forum, attended by the Core Leadership of Parliament as well as the Chairmen and Ranking Members for the Parliamentary Committees, was to critically examine prospects and challenges of nurturing career legislators in parliament.
The Chief Director of MoPA said the dialogue forum was to identify the institutional and systemic factors fueling the high attrition rate which undermine the object of building a parliament with the requisite skills and competencies to execute its mandate.
He said the interaction also seeks to examine the nature, causes and consequences of the high attrition among parliamentarians and discuss the prospects and challenges of nurturing career legislators.
Story: Franklin ASARE-DONKOH