Amend Constitution to make us effective — MPs

BY: Donald Ato Dapatem

The Leadership of Parliament and a media expert have called for an urgent need for the total overhaul of the 1992 Constitution to deal with issues that have made Parliament ineffective and rendered its members subservient to the executive.

They mentioned the issues to include the hybrid system where Members of Parliament (MPs) are made ministers, the fear of offending the executive and its repercussion on the side of the majority and the dangers involved in not toeing party lines, which have made that arm of government ineffective in protecting the public purse and  securing the interest of the people who voted them into office.

The leadership of the House and the media expert made the call during an expanded leadership engagement of parliament programme organised by the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs in Accra yesterday.

The Speakers included the Majority Leader, Mr Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu; Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Mr Alban Bagbin; Minority Leader, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, and a member of the Advisory Board of Parliament, Mr Yaw Boadu Ayeboafoh.

It was attended by leadership of the House and leaders of various select committees and the Advisory Board of Parliament and was on the theme “Interrogating the Performance of Ghana’s Parliament under the Fourth Republic”.

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Haruna Iddrisu

The Minority Leader stated that the problem had emanated from the infusion of the executive and legislative roles between ministers and MPs and more dangerously the non-neutrality of the Speakers of Parliament from the First Parliament of the Fourth Republic till today.

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He said Parliament over the years had also reduced itself to a protector of a bruising image of the executive because all the Speakers and members of the majority at a time were always quick to go to the defence of the executive even when the executive had offended the law or on matters that required scrutiny.

Alban Bagbin

Mr Alban Bagbin said because of the lack of time to promulgate the 1992 Constitution, the drafters did not think through all the issues and that the report of the experts as against what came out from the consultative assembly portrayed a different concept.

He stated that due to limitations of time the consultative assembly flagged some issues and said Parliament should discuss them but after 26 years the House had not done that and said that it was high time the Constitution was overhauled.

Mr Ayeboafoh who is also the Chairman of the National Media Commission (NMC) made it clear that the hybrid system of government was not working for the people of Ghana as intended and that “we must fight this as a people” and determine objectively that it was impossible for MPs to serve as ministers and be objective.