General News of Friday, 1 August 2014
Member of Parliament for Okre, Dan Kwaku Botwe has disagreed with calls to increase the number of Parliamentarians to 400, saying it is too expensive for the country’s democracy.
The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) after its national consultation on the ‘Winner Takes All’ policy recommended that the current 275 parliamentary seats be increased to 400, a call, Mr. Botwe considered would be too costly.
Seventy-five extra constituencies were created under the National Democratic Congress (NDC) months before the 2012 parliamentary and presidential elections in Ghana.
The move, however, brought about heated debates across the country’s political divide with accusing fingers pointed at the party for attempting to rig the votes.
Speaking to Joy News on Friday, Mr. Botwe noted the purpose of increasing the number to 400 could not necessarily be to stop “what they call the Winner-Takes-All syndrome. No, I do not think so.”
Rather, “The reason should be that when you are putting people forward for constituency elections; you just want to put up people who can win your constituency for you and each party would do the same thing.”
He said, “At the end of the day, by our constitution, the president is bound to select 50 per cent at least of his ministers from parliament, but when you are selecting people to go for the seats; you don’t select them with the view that these people are going to become ministers or have appointments from the presidency.”
Mr. Botwe emphasized further that it would only be agreed if the number was raised to 300 while allowing proportional representation for the 25 seats.
“Where based on the percentage you get in the presidential election, you would have that share in the 25 seats. We can then say that in the 25, maybe based on your proportion 50 per cent should be women; other technical people that we perceive or we think that should be in parliament we can also have. We can have certain criteria to guide us in getting people to add up to maybe say 300, but certainly not 400,” he concluded.
Meanwhile, the committee charged with the consultation process explained it would enable the formation of “an opportunity to bring on board knowledgeable technical experts, marginalized groups, as well as women to help and thus contribute more meaningfully to the development of the nation,” as reported by the General Telegraph newspaper.
Mr. Emile Short, a member of the advisory committee, told the paper the decision to cap the parliamentary seats at 400 had become necessary to ensure diversification of the composition of Parliament.
“It is the considered view of the IEA that with additional seats, representation in the august house will be based on proportions, insisting that an affirmative action system should be enforced where the additional 125 seats will be reserved for marginalized groups such as women and persons with disabilities,” Mr. Short was reported as saying.
He later told Joy News that even though the suggested 400 would be a cap, “there wouldn’t be any more increase in the number of constituencies that would be created.”