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Ghana needs a parliamentary democracy – Minority Leader

BY: Moses Dotsey Aklorbortu & Andrews Tetteh, SEKONDI/TAKORADI

The Minority Leader in Parliament, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu has stated that the presidential democratic system of governance currently being practiced by Ghana is stalling the fight against corruption.

Likewise, he said, the continues holding of primaries to change experienced sitting Members of Parliament by their respective parties was also rendering Parliament weak at the end of every election with the entry of inexperienced new members.
 
In Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu’s opinion, parliamentary-style democracy was the best way to go since it had the tendency to help eliminate corruption compared to the current presidential democracy.
 
During a media interaction in Takoradi at the launch of the rules and procedures and an electronic platform for citizens engagement for Parliament’s Government Assurances Committee (GAC), he said the huge campaign expenditure that characterizes presidential campaigns in Ghana had created avenues for corruption to flourish.
 
He explained that in a Westminster style of democracy, the Prime Minister did not spend much money during the campaign season as a President would, due to the relative difference in the size of the constituencies for the two heads of governments.
 
Campaign billboards
“In my Suame Constituency during the last elections I had two billboards which cost me ¢9,000.00 and ¢5,000.00 respectively, interestingly, the president for example has four of such billboards in my small constituency,” he said.
 
He said the question was how many of those posters the president put up within one constituency let alone spreading it across the country, as well as how he financed it.
 
Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said what was fascinating was that there were sponsors of the billboards who wanted a particular presidential candidate to win an election.
 
“These various donors are mostly rewarded with contracts by cutting corners, bridging all procedures resulting in the corruption we want to fight under the presidential system,” he said.
 
New Parliamentarians
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said aside the problems with the presidential system of democracy, one interesting thing was the holding of primaries at every general elections to elect new parliamentary candidates.
 
A situation, which he said was robbing Parliament of the needed quality.
 
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said though some of the new parliamentarians were making positive contributions on the floor of Parliament, most were also finding it difficult to live up to the expectations.
 
“It will be better for political parties to support its members to develop a parliamentary career, but if we are constantly continue to change who goes to Parliament by holding primaries, it will affect the quality of the human resource of the house,” he said.
 
An example is the current Parliament; the Members of Parliament for New Patriotic Party (NPP) had about 50 new members who had to take time learn.
 
“Therefore, continuously changing members of parliament through primaries weakens the house and will not allow members to fully execute their responsibilities since most of them would not have the experience required to be an effective parliamentarians,” he said.
 
Ministries not classrooms
According to the Minority Leader, it was interesting to note that people were appointed to ministries as substantive ministers or deputies, and “appear before the vetting committee with absolutely no knowledge about the ministries they are heading to.”
 
According to the Minority Leader, the popular responses were that, “we will learn when we get there,” but the facts still remained that the ministries were not schools for the new appointees to go and learn.
 
“My problem is how can we have a Parliament approving these people, who are now going to learn when they get to the ministries?” he quipped.
 
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said the time had come to start offering appointments to people who had considerable experience related to the ministry they were being appointed to.