The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, has stated that he would crack the whip to end what he referred to as “the culture of money and patronage” used by the executive to weaken the institution of Parliament.
According to the Speaker of Parliament, the situation where members were appointed onto boards of corporations compromised their criticality of government policies and programmes.
Swearing in the new executive members of the Parliamentary Press Corps in Accra on Monday, Mr Bagbin said the practice was an affront to the provisions of the 1992 Constitution.
“We intend to fight money and patronage in the next two-and-half-years so that by the time we get to 2025, we have a different ball game.
“In parliament today, a lot of members have been bought by the executive through patronage. They are made chairs of boards, member of boards, chief executives of some institutions and they are still Members of Parliament.
“When it happens this way, how can you come and criticise the same thing you are involved in? That is political patronage and we are going to look critically into our constitutional provisions to make sure that we don’t allow these things to continue.”
He said though the constitution frowned on the practice, it had persisted because of the nature of Parliaments the country had seen over the last three decades.
“It is not part of the concept we have in the 1992 Constitution. It is clear in the constitution that for you to hold an office of profit, you need certification from the Speaker. But who are the speakers when usually, the President breathes over their shoulders and when they have a mob of large number of majority members who they push behind to do what they want to do. I am not under that pressure.
“Before anybody is given any appointment, the Speaker must give certification. It is not just for the President to dictate and co-opt everybody into government and leave the minority alone to be critical of government actions and inactions.
“That is not helpful to our democracy and we have to crack the whip on this matter,” he explained
In this regard, he urged the new executive body not to indulge in that practice but allow critical voices to be heard; voices he said would straighten the leadership for the good of the corps.
Per Article 98(2) “A Member of Parliament shall not hold any office of profit or emolument, whether private or public and either directly or indirectly, unless permitted to do so by the Speaker acting on the recommendations of a committee of Parliament…”
Dean of the Corps, Simon Agianab, in his remarks, reiterated the resolve of parliamentary reporters to be balanced and fair to all sides of the House in their reportage.
He decried the acrimonious nature of the House which had been occasioned by the equal numerical strength of the two leading political parties – the New Patriotic Party and the National Democratic Congress – in the legislative assembly.
“The press in Parliament is not happy reporting chaos all the time. We are equally very concerned about the seeming lack of dialogue. We pledge to support the Speaker through our work to maintain order and harmony in the chamber.”
Director of Public Affairs, Parliament, Ms Kate Addo, on her part entreated the press to hold in high esteem the ethics of the journalism profession as the ear and eye of the citizenry in the House.
BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI