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Ghana: Does the title ‘‘Honourable” fit our MPs?

Ghana Parliament
Ghana Parliament

Ghanaians must be bothered by the manner in which our Parliamentarians misconducted themselves during the Inauguration of the 8th Parliament. What transpired during the Speakership election is an obvious confirmation that our Legislature is made up of people who are taking an undue advantage of Ghanaians’ patience and tolerance to create needless tension in the system. Is Ghana gradually practising ‘‘Demonocracy’’? 

Democracy, over the millennia, has come to be accepted by many as the most acceptable yardstick, with its in-built control mechanisms of the executive, legislature and judiciary. Whereas the executive and legislature subject themselves to time-limited tenures through elections. The Members of Parliament (MPs), enjoy protected tenures till the loss of an election of the individual parliamentarian as established by law. Even their loss attracts ex-gratia. Society lavishes parliamentarians with all manner of goodies, privileges, security and more, which those not so privileged can only drool at.

Is it because they are the repertoire of more wisdom and intelligence than the rest of us? It is so that they will not stray from the straight and narrow in the discharge of their duties. “Honourable” is the exalted title reserved only for parliamentarians. And why not? After all, they owe it a duty to address constituent concerns during debates, ask questions of Ministers during Question Time and work to create or amend laws. 

I was shocked during the inauguration of the Members of Parliament-elect on Thursday. What was expected to be a smooth inauguration process turned largely chaotic. The race between the NDC’s Alban Bagbin and NPP’s Prof. Aaron Mike Oquaye was a complete degradation of Ghana’s democracy. The issue of the court injunction against the Assin North MP-elect took centre stage, the invasion by joint police-military officials and a takeover of seats by the Minority didn’t add any flavor to the process.

And to add insult to injury, the move by Member of Parliament for Tema West at the end of the election for the Speakership position was outright despicable, unlawful and disgraceful. It took many by surprise including myself. How can an MP snatch the ballot papers from the hands of a parliamentary official before a winner could be announced? 

Let’s take a look at this from this angle: Had it been the son of a nobody, who sneaked his way into Parliament and attempted what the two guys did in Parliament, he would have been whisked away to jail instantly. Where’s the equality before the law?

Here lies the case, a politician has misbehaved, publicly voted for, and aside a few slaps and smacks on the head, he will still be referred to as ‘‘Honourable’’, still having his position intact. Has the law of Ghana become a respecter of persons? 

Nonetheless, the overall performance of this crop of Parliamentarians in our 4th Republic is nothing to write home about. Apart from the routine assignments that they have carried out (such as vetting the President’s nominees for positions of trust and discussing the Auditor-General’s report or deliberating over matters bordering on procurement), they haven’t done anything to impress us.

And the least they could do is to undermine democracy. No wonder, people don’t hesitate to treat our MPs with some modicum of contempt. Is that what they’ve been re-elected in Parliament – being supported by the sweat, toil, and blood of the Ghanaian tax-payer to do? Their actions were inexcusably shameful and condemnable. Democracy is rotting slowly in the country.

I believe that parliament is a representative institution that reflects the dictum – “Government of the people, by the people, for the people’’. It is the hub of democratic governance and has a responsibility to foster public awareness of the basic tenets of democracy. The Parliament is not a place of lawlessness but rather the habitat of the law. Are we producing good leaders and are the leaders leading exemplary qualities?

The author, Bright Philip Donkor is the African Journalists for Economic Opportunity Training (AJEOT-2020) Best Article Writer; a Young Activist, Social and Political Commentator and a Columnist. 

Writer’s email: [email protected]