General News of Wednesday, 11 June 2014
Members of Parliament are sharply divided on the recommendation by the Constitution Review Commission giving free hand to the president to appoint majority of his ministers from outside Parliament.
President John Mahama has given his blessings to the amendment of that constitutional provision but MPs, including those from his party, have vehemently opposed it.
Majority Chief Whip, Muntaka Mubarak says the proposal “is not a practical thing, it’s a wishful thinking”. He told Joy FM’s Top Story on Wednesday, he would have wished that about 100 percent of ministers are appointed from Parliament.
He is confident it would compel the best brains to vie to come to parliament and cut down on cost.
But Minority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu strongly disagrees. He is advocating for career parliamentarians as one of the surest ways of making the legislature strong.
The bill suggesting the president appoints majority of ministers outside parliament is yet to go to the House for consideration, but Alhaji Muntaka is calling for an intense debate on the recommendation.
In his argument, the Majority Chief Whip said the proposal will weaken Parliament and rather make it a rubber stamp of the executive. With the new arrangement, he feared persons with experience would avoid going to the trenches to interact with people. These people would only show their “nice faces” when party wins power for ministerial appointment, consequently depriving Parliament of more knowledgeable people, he explained.
Also, he posited that the recommendation does not factor the cost to democracy. Under the status quo, ministers serving as MPs are given slight adjustment to their salary. Without it, he said the nation would have to dole out hefty amount for legislators and ministers.
Alhaji Muntaka believes ministers need grooming as politicians, which he said can be attained in Parliament as one goes through the mill to be elected, as well as participating in the business of the House.
But the Minority Leader disagreed with his colleague’s submissions. Most people use Parliament as a spring board under the current state to become ministers, he submitted.
He said it would also cure the habit of appointing inexperienced graduates into government. These people virtually add nothing to governance, he asserted.
With his years of experience in the house, Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu pointed out that some MPs grow cold when their party does not win the presidential election, and often do not show up in Parliament.
Claims that the prevailing condition cuts down on cost is a non-starter, he offered.
Left with him, the best way the country can reduce cost and corruption is to adopt the Westminster form of government.
The Westminster system is a democratic parliamentary system of government modelled after the politics of the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister is the head of government (or head of the executive).
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu claimed the Westminster system would reduce corruption in government and even at the district level.
He also called for a complete separation of powers between the executive and parliament.
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu also raised concerns about the impending referendum on the amended constitution. He said the nation would not get the best if all the amended provisions are jumbled into one document for electorate to vote either yes or no looking at the country’s literacy rate.
Meanwhile, a political science lecturer at the KNUST, Dr. Amoako Baah said the decision by MPs to oppose the recommendation that the president can appoint more ministers from outside parliament shows that “MPs are not content to be law makers”.
He maintained the lack of checks and balance is seriously affecting government’s work.
“If you want to be a parliamentarian be a parliamentarian, if not don’t go there,” he advised.