Majority leader apologises to MPs over new chamber ‘blackout’
Majority Leader, Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu on Thursday rendered unqualified apology to Members of Parliament for failing to engage them on the controversial 450-seater capacity Parliament chamber before going public.
The project estimated to cost not more than $200 million has been out rightly rejected by the public and civil society groups. They are demanding abortion of the project.
Addressing the media on the matter on Thursday, 04 July 2019 Mensah Bonsu who’s also the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs: “Honestly, I was not aware of certain arrangements and I thought that would be limited to the board members because we needed further briefing on where we were with the project.
“Unfortunately I think that process itself boomeranged because it is most inappropriate, the facility if we get to construct it is going to be for Members of Parliament, so they should get to know of the process that the board was engaging in rather than to learn of it from the press and that was not the best.”
“I want to use this opportunity to apologise to our Members of Parliament because it is most inappropriate for members of parliament to hear about this for the first time in the press as happened after the events of last week Thursday,” Mensah Bonsu said.
President Akufo-Addo has endorsed the construction of the proposed 450-seater new chamber despite massive public outcry and opposition.
The President, according to Speaker of Parliament, Prof. Aaron Mike “in principle has actually agreed to come and cut the sod the moment we are ready. So, you could see that there’s a lot of goodwill for this project.”
The Ghana Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) described the planned construction of the 450-seat chamber as a “misplaced priority.”
The center said in a statement Thursday that it “does not believe that construction of a new and expanded chamber at an estimated cost of $200m is reasonable or justifiable at the present time. In the face of the numerous basic needs facing communities across the country, including a lack of safe and decent physical structures, facilities, and fixtures for many basic schools, a chronic shortage of beds in public hospitals, the deplorable condition of many of the country’s roads, and sundry other basic infrastructural and material deprivations facing various populations of citizens, construction of a new edifice for Parliament is a clear case of misplaced priorities.”
A pressure group, OccupyGhana, called on Parliament to abort the plan, describing it as “inconsiderate” looking at the level of hardship in the country
“The very fact that in light of all the problems Ghana faces, our parliamentarians think a new chamber is of utmost importance shows a significant disconnection from the lot of the people they are supposed to represent.
“We cannot believe that Parliament and its leadership would even contemplate something so inconsiderate at a time when so many Ghanaians still struggle in these difficult and trying times. Even sadder is the fact that it eats away at the confidence people have in the democratic process,” the group said.
Former second deputy Speaker of Parliament Ken Dzirasah said the move is unnecessary, arguing that the nation has pressing issues to address than building a new legislative chamber.
Speaking to Francis Abban on the Morning Starr Thursday, Mr. Dzirasah said the current chamber is good and fit for purpose.
“The conditions and facilities in Parliament are enough for the MPs to work. There are other pressing issues we need to attend to as a nation. This matter on new chamber shouldn’t have come up at all because there is no need for it. It is an exercise that bears no relevance to our realities of today.”
But in a rare appearance on morning TV on Wednesday, 03 July 2019 Mensah Bonsu defended the need for the new chamber. According to him, the argument that the new chamber is not of priority is baseless.
Speaking on GHOne TV’s GH Today, he said: “As a country, we are not out of the woods yet in spite of the quality…quantity of various shades of improvement that we are adding to the lives and living standards of our people.
“We are not there yet. We are not out of the woods, but tell me, we do know that the basic needs of a human being to start with is food, clothing and shelter. Whenever have we been able to achieve this before we started building our stadia or our national theatre?
“So, let’s not really say that not until we satisfied the basic human needs others things are luxurious. Let nobody tell me that not until maybe we are able to provide clothing for everybody, not until we are able to provide adequate housing to everybody these other things are luxuries.”