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Ghana Politics: Who will be proud of this Parliament?

Sun, 19 Feb 2012 Source: Bokor, Michael J. K.

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

Friday, February 17, 2012

Ghanaians must be bothered by the manner in which our Parliamentarians are misconducting themselves. What transpired during President Mills’ presentation of the State of the Nation Address on Thursday is a clear 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.

Those among them, especially those in the Minority, going about criticizing President Mills for what they call his non-performance, gave democracy a bad name on the occasion. By turning themselves into referees to give President Mills a “red card,” they took their waywardness too far. That attitude is unbecoming of their status and they should bow their heads in shame.

No one cares what these NPP MPs mean by “mourning for the country” and being clad in red-and-black to accentuate their impish funereal mood. By waving red cards and supposedly issuing them to President Mills as an indication of their rejection of his bid for re-election, they clearly demonstrated their pettiness. This kind of politics won’t solve our problems, especially when viewed against the background of their shooing the President with “Away… away… away…!!” Indiscipline at its worst, I daresay.

They topped it all up with their childishness, displaying their overly mischievous side—and they did so to the best of their abilities through the kind of conduct that one would least expect from MPs tasked with doing serious business to move the country forward. They turned the chamber into an avenue for needless heckling by ridiculing the President for what they termed “his abysmal performance in controlling the affairs of the country over the past three years.”

Despite all these claims, one fact is clear: that Ghana under President Mills has not been on a standstill all these years! So, what else would motivate that level of indiscipline if not the calculated use of that occasion to undercut the President and make him unattractive to Ghanaians?

Their earlier attempt to blackmail President Mills by threatening to boycott the Thursday session in protest against what they term their low salaries/emoluments is an obvious instance of indiscipline. How many times have they risen in support of workers demanding better working conditions? Or are they concerned only when it comes to their own welfare problems?

Our Parliament itself hasn’t performed well enough to justify what the Minority side did and will continue to do as part of its political campaign stunts. So, what is the basis for their wanton undermining of the President? What is President Mills that they are not?

Of course, one might be tempted to read some light-heartedness into that scenario and overlook it for its comic relief, but it doesn’t speak well of members of a Legislature who have failed to do better than the Executive that they are so quick to belittle.

Can any MP tell me what significant accomplishment this Parliament has made to prove that its performance is better than what its predecessors have done or that it has been able to move the country to a higher level in terms of governance through its contributions?

There are many aspects of national life that demand prompt legislative action to tackle but haven’t been handled yet because of the laxity on the part of Parliament. Laws needed for such purposes are not in place; yet, our MPs don’t care a farthing. All they are interested in is flaunting their status about and looking for every opportunity to profit from it as such.

Of course, we take note of some developments that indicate some sense of responsibility, however narrow it may be. Of particular interest is the vehemence with which the Minority opposed some financial transactions entered into by the government, such as the STX Housing Project and the 3 billion Chinese loan, which have turned out to prove them right in their stance. Despite the partisan political nature of the Parliamentary proceedings concerning such transactions, the resistance put up by the Minority in this regard has proved to be apt. As for the Majority side, the least said about it, the better.

Nonetheless, the overall performance of this crop of Parliamentarians in our 4th Republic is nothing to enthuse over. 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 or to warrant their cry for better emoluments. Nor will they do so by undermining the Presidency.

These are people who speak with a collective voice only when their own interests are at stake. How many times have these MPs fought for sector workers demanding better conditions of service? Even when their own drivers protested against their poor working conditions, which of the MPs stepped in to support them or to fight for the problem to be solved?

One major liability for which these MPs will be remembered is their inability to pass into law the Right to Information bill, which speaks volumes for their laziness. What does it have to take for that bill to be pushed through? For almost four years now, this Parliament can’t conclude work on that bill to give Ghanaians a better opportunity to monitor the performance of public officials. What is stalling work on this bill?

Again, we deplore the indiscipline that has taken the better part of our MPs. Of late, much of the acts and pronouncements instigating indiscipline in the society have come from our MPs. Take the despicable conduct of Kennedy Agyapong and the Sene MP (Twumasi Appiah), for instance, and you won’t hesitate to treat our MPs with some modicum of contempt. Is that what they are in Parliament—being supported by the sweat, toil, and blood of the Ghanaian tax-payer—to do?

As of now, tension has built up to such a point as to portend an ominous atmosphere when the electioneering campaigns heat up. From what has come from our MPs so far, we are not left in any doubt that they are instigating indiscipline and worsening social relationships. As part of the national leadership, we expect them to conduct themselves with dignity, not irresponsible behaviour.

Until they do so, they will not command respect. And their non-performance won’t earn them any public sympathy either. They may fight for better emoluments but shouldn’t be surprised to be told that they are a liability and don’t deserve anything of the sort. The actual red card designed for them is in the hands of the electorate, waiting to be issued to them at the appropriate time.

The electorate will determine their fate at Election 2012. Those among these MPs deceiving themselves that they will be retained at all costs will laugh at the wrong side of their mouths on that day because their performances are equally abysmal. They are the pot and should know better not to call the kettle black!

E-mail: mjbokor@yahoo.com

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Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.