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What a Parliament we had for 2021!

BY: Enimil Ashon
What a Parliament we had for 2021!
What a Parliament we had for 2021!

It is not often that readers of this column call for an encore. Last week, they did; their reason being that there were portions of the article which were not given the due emphasis.

At their command, therefore, I reproduce those portions which, in their opinion, lay buried too deep down to catch the big eyes. Here’s what I suggested:

“Having arrived at this junction in our parliamentary democratic journey where we cannot even pretend to be objective, let Ghanaians appoint Justices of the Superior Courts of Judicature as Speaker of Parliament, with two High Court judges as First and Second Deputies.

An openly neutral Speaker, not elected by Parliament but by an Electoral College of the Media, Civil Society and the Judiciary, will not be so flagrantly and abusively partisan.”

The above was published before last Monday’s eruption of violence in the House. As the real cause hit me, I wondered, why must the suffering masses keep sacrificing to ensure that Article 71 Office Holders live a life of luxury, both in office and out of office, if at crucial moments like the night of December 20, they would be “unavoidably absent”?

Speaker’s absence

Where was the Speaker? National Democratic Congress (NDC)’s Kludze Avedzi told the press that the Speaker acted on the “instructions of his doctor”. Of course every Ghanaian knows the Speaker is not in perfect health, but I have a question for Avedzi. Who gave him the reason he cited for the Speaker’s absence? Was it the Speaker himself? If so, why was this not disclosed to the Majority Leader also?

I am not necessarily siding with the Deputy Majority Leader’s suspicion that the Speaker’s absence was part of a grand scheme to frustrate government’s business, but I believe that many sane persons would read meanings and raise an eyebrow when it is explained to them that in the present Parliament, the absence of the Speaker automatically reduces the Majority caucus’s numbers by one, bringing them on a par with the NDC. An equal number on both sides automatically defeats a government motion.

Let no Ghanaian be deceived. Those acts of violence in the night of December 20, all the walk-outs to boycott voting on motions were not carried out with the poor in mind. For example, was there ever a tax proposed by either the New Patriotic Party (NPP) or NDC (in power) that was not opposed by the other in opposition? Which of these taxes got scrapped when the tables turned, and the Minority became the party in government?

Come to think of it, should the E-Levy, like all taxes, not rather be playing into hands of the NDC? Taxes have the effect of multiplying the hardships of the people. The NDC, therefore, should be laughing all the way to victory in 2024.

Mahatma Gandhi once declared, “There are many causes I would die for, but there is not a single cause I would kill for.” I recommend that these words, born of a high nobility of mind, be etched in red lettering on the walls of our Parliament. They were uttered at the height of India’s independence struggle, a time when the majority of Gandhi’s compatriots were baying for the blood of British citizens in the colony.

Sadly, MPs in Ghana today are too willing to kill to retain or return their party in power. Because of the perks of office.

I ask: in a house of laws, should it take this level of violence to settle a constitutional issue?