The Member of Parliament for Kumbungu in the Northern Region, Mr. Ras Mubarak, is pushing for Parliament to consider making public the vote of legislators in bills and legislations that come before them.
According to him, doing this would not only sharpen the responsibilities of individual MPs, but also give constituents an opportunity to know how individual MPs voted on key legislations, while holding them accountable to their constituents.
Doing this “will expose MPs who ran away when their constituents need their votes on crucial matters” he noted in a statement on the floor of the House yesterday.
He deflated arguments that if whips allowed MPs to vote the way they wanted, government programmes would be weakened.
The first time MP conceded that members were in the House on the ticket of political parties, but said, it was important that legislators balanced what was in the party’s interest and what was in the interest of the people they were representing.
“It can’t be business as usual, we have to cede ground and give the people what they want…….we have a chance to make history, to turn this House into a parliament that responds to the needs of the people,” he stated.
He proposed that on the website of the parliament of Ghana, there should be a column titled ‘How did my MP vote.’
To him this would give constituents, the media and the citizenry a chance to key in the name of their MP and see how they voted on issues of relevance.
His suggestions, however, would only be materialised if the Standing Orders of the House were revised to allow for that as Orders 110 forbids making votes in the House public.
“There shall be secret voting in the House in respect of (a) a Bill for an Act of Parliament to amend any provision of the Constitution ; and (b) the election or removal of a person holding office under the Constitutional or law made under the Constitution” Order 110 reads.
The Speaker of Parliament, Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye, in his inaugural address, however, among other things, promised to complete work on revising the standing orders of parliament.
This Mr. Mubarak said needed to be done with some level of urgency to ensure parliamentary democracy became participatory.
His suggestions received mixed reactions from the House on party lines.
While the majority members believed doing that would distort the system of governance Ghana was practicing, his minority caucus believed it was worth considering ensuring the views of their constituents were sought on matters of national interest.
The speaker on the matter said he remained committed to seeing a speedy revision of the Standing Orders to bring governance closer to the electorate but was unable to say if Order 110 will be amended to allow for public voting.
By Julius Yao Petetsi