In pursuance of its democratic practice, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) took turn to hold its 2020 Parliamentary Primaries on Saturday, 20th June, 2020. Media reports disclose that some experienced incumbent MPs lost their seats. It may also be recalled that the National Democratic Congress (NDC), held its counterpart primaries in August 2019 and the outcome wasn’t so different as some experienced sitting MPs also lost their seats.
As a student of Ghana’s Constitutional Law and Practices, it’s refreshing to witness the continuous exercise of the people’s right to choose their own leaders including their Members of Parliament (MPs). The exercise of this right affirms the very first provision of our Constitution, 1992, which vests the sovereignty of Ghana in the PEOPLE OF GHANA.
Confused Role of Members of Parliament?
Per our governance architecture, Members of Parliament may be said to play tripartite roles. The first role of MPs relates to their service to the nation as a whole. This role entails their active participation in the work of Parliament to ensure the full exercise of the powers of the august House in respect of law-making, approval, ratificatory, deliberative and oversight functions (READING THE LAW @ page 80). The second role of MPs involves the promotion of the agenda of their political parties. The last role of MPs entails their advocacy mandate towards their Constituencies/Constituents.
Of the above roles, the one which has become a subject of grave concern is the mandate of MPs towards their Constituencies/Constituents. This role continues to generate utter confusion as it has been misconstrued to encapsulate the mandate to deliver physical development to their Constituencies and meet the material needs of the Constituents. It must be emphasized that Constituency/Constituent mandate of MPs is nothing more advocacy role. It does not, in any stretch of legal or factual argument, extend to a direct duty of MPs to undertake developmental activities such as construction of roads, drains, toilets, schools and hospitals. MPs are not allocated funds to undertake such developmental activities.
On the account of the above, the real test for assessing the performance of MPs ought to be: HOW EFFECTIVELY HAS AN MP PROJECTED THE NEEDS AND CONCERNS OF CONSTITUENCY/CONSTITUENTS ON THE FLOOR OF PARLIAMENT, AT COMMITTEES AND OTHER PARLIAMENTARY PLATFORMS AMONG OTHERS.
It’s a matter of common knowledge that a good number of MPs lose their seats every Electoral cycle due to their inability to carry out developmental projects. The continuous reliance on this misconceived role of MPs has become a matter of grave concern. It is gradually and firmly establishing a subculture of excessive monetization of our electoral system, resulting in the election of incompetent MPs, undermining the country’s fight against corruption and our general quest for accelerated development.
The Way Forward
Having practised democracy for almost three decades and changed MPs on considerable ocassions, the time has come for us wake up from our slumber and assume our ACTIVE CITIZENSHIP ROLES.
Two main categories of people are directly responsible for the current state of affairs, namely, POLITICIANS and VOTERS. Many have argued that POLITICIANS must lead the way out this problem. I differ. My reason is that POLITICIANS go into political contests to win, and when the contests become fierce, majority tend to outdo each other by promising “heaven on earth” and demonstrating false capacity to fulfil same. VOTERS are the kingmakers, who our POLITICIANS have to convince to secure power. It appears easier to adopt the VOTER-led approach, to educate our VOTERS on the significance of their voting power, the mandate of their MPs and other elected office holders. This way, our VOTERS would be positioned to make informed decisions, and elect for themselves and our nation COMPETENT, COMMITTED AND SELFLESS POLITICAL LEADERS.
In conclusion, I would like to share the ever-instructive words of Barack Obama, a former President of the US as follows:
“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”