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Opinions of Friday, 23 January 2009

Columnist: Ato Kwamena Dadzie

Shameful, ‘sankwas’ MPs

After the unprecedented public outcry over the ludicrous and unjustifiable retirement package for President John Kufuor, Members of Parliament are coming forth with all sorts of excuses as to why they approved Chinery-Hesse’s recommendations. Some of them are claiming that they were “hoodwinked” into approving the package. But Ghanaians are not buying this.

The fact remains that they did a very shoddy job and they should be ashamed of themselves. The 230 MPs who were supposed to have scrutinised and blocked the retirement package recommended by Mary Chinery-Hesse are nothing but a bunch of irresponsible, negligent nation wreckers.

From what we have heard so far, the lazy MPs didn’t even bother to read the report, which I must admit is quite bulky, before approval. They just skimmed through the pages containing their own retirement package and satisfied that it was more than they deserved, they allowed it to pass – with the offensive retirement package for Kufuor. Some of them actually said “aye” without knowing what they were even saying “aye” to.

What happened in parliament on January 6, 2009 is about the clearest example for most Ghanaians that our politicians are a selfish and greedy lot who only care about themselves.

As they sat in that closed-door session to approve Mary Chinery-Hesse’s obnoxious recommendations there was only one thing on their minds: “what’s in it for us?” Once they knew what they were getting, they didn’t even bother to find out what they were signing on for the out-going president. A good number of them got to know about Kufuor’s retirement package in the news.

The men and women who are supposed to be representing and defending our interests have failed us – to put it mildly. They have sold us out and we have every right to call them whatever we choose. We have every right to demand that they apologise to us and we can also demand that they should all be punished. The question is how?

As I pondered over an appropriate punishment for our wayward MPs, I remembered that PAV Ansah – one of my four mentors – prescribed a certain punishment for members of the erstwhile Constituent Assembly which drafted the 1992 constitution. Prof. Ansah wrote:

“The fellows ought to be taken to the Saltpond beach to have their balls rubbed in hot sand; an appropriate equivalent punishment may be found for the ladies. It will all take just a little bit of imagination to look at the appropriate parts of the female anatomy for corresponding action.

“Then after this initial exercise, they should all be gathered in one place for very uncouth and wild children to hoot at them around noon when the sun is at its zenith – crying ‘shame, shame, shame’ and then being sprayed with obscenities, preferably in Ga, which is replete with vulgarities and vituperation and scatological expletives offensive enough to shock and scandalise even foul-mouthed Lucifer himself.

“Then and then only after these preliminary “comedies” will they undergo the flogging to be administered on their bare behinds before the gaze of all those who care to watch the show.”

The first part of Prof. Ansah’s prescription – the bit about rubbing some items in hot sand – might hurt so bad, I won’t recommend it for my worst enemy. But I will support all that follows.

In addition to Prof. Ansah’s prescription, I am also taking the liberty to recommend a few punitive measures for our MPs. I hope these pass without any consideration.

First, I think we should stop calling the MPs ‘honourable’ – for at least one year. Instead we should refer to them with titles such as ‘Shameful’ and ‘Sankwas’ (which, in my hometown is a term of reverse endearment for silly and ineffectual leaders with abundant inadequacies). So the representative for Prampram, for example, who participated in that closed-door session without knowing what was being approved, should for the next one year be referred to as the Shameful E. T. Mensah, Sankwas MP.

Secondly, I also think we should slash the MPs’ salaries in half – for the next one year. Where most of us work, if you do anything half as negligently as the MPs did on January 6, you could be summarily dismissed. There are no such penalties for our MPs and so they think we voted for them to go sit in the chamber, sleep and snore, approve bills without diligent scrutiny and then get up to walk smiling to the bank to cash hefty pay checks they know they don’t deserve. If we slash their salaries and permanently take away some of the perks they undeservedly enjoy, they will – hopefully – learn a few lessons and start earning the right to be called ‘honourables’ again.

For being so insensitive and sloppy, the MPs – including the new ones – should also be compelled to offer some sort of community service for about six months. Each of them should spend two hours every week sweeping streets, clearing choked gutters, tending to KVIPs and helping evacuate pan latrines.

If after all of this our MPs take another decision in as reckless a fashion as they did on January 6, we could as well fire all of them and send children from the New Horizon School to represent us in parliament. I have no doubt they will do a much better job.



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ato@atokd.com