Mensah-Bonsu pledges to work to entrench democracy

BY: Caroline Boateng
 Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, Majority Leader and Minister of Parliamentary Affairs
Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, Majority Leader and Minister of Parliamentary Affairs

The Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, has pledged to liaise effectively with the legislature and the executive to entrench democracy in the country.

He has also promised to liaise with civil society organisations for a deeper and better engagement between citizens and Parliament.

He said the ministry was poised to share with civil society organisations its aims of ensuring that the legislature and the executive worked together perfectly.

It was also ready to receive from them research papers and position papers that could be fed into policy making for better governance.

“We need to build consensus with and among the citizenry and civil society organisations and expect them to respond to the work plans of Parliament,” he said.

Expanded leadership

Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu was speaking at a meeting with the expanded leadership of Parliament, which included the second Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Mr Alban Bagbin, the Minority Leader, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, and the chairpersons, vice chairpersons and ranking members of the various committees in Parliament. Also present at the event was the Chief of Staff, Mrs Akosua Frema Opare Osei.

The meeting was on the theme: “Strengthening the oversight role of Parliament for accountable governance.”

Sharing his thoughts on parliamentary oversight, Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said the practice of nominating members of Parliament (MPs) as ministers resulted in weak committees and the weakening of oversight responsibilities.

That was because the members of the ruling party who remained in Parliament often did not want to rock the boat on issues so as not to be skipped when a ministerial position came up to be filled.

He, therefore, proposed an arrangement that would ensure that committees with oversight over key sectors such as Foreign Affairs, Local Government, Interior and Defence were headed by members of the ruling party, with all other committees being headed by members in accordance with their numbers in Parliament.

Opposition parties

The Minority leader, in his statements, told the gathering, particularly the Chief of Staff, that minority parties were in Parliament to offer constructive criticism and not just oppose.

He said in matters that the executive felt convinced to go a particular way, nothing prevented it to dialogue with the minority in Parliament on its particular point of view.

Citing the US Military Agreement for instance, he added that if the government thought that was the way to go, it should have dialogued with the MPs and not proceed on the basis that the minority in Parliament would by all means oppose.