Contrary to the general perception, Members of Parliament in the Republic of Ghana are not sitting pretty. They are even scared of visiting their constituencies, because of the many social and economic demands on them.
According to Maxwell Kofi Jimah, Member of Parliament (MP) for Asokwa in the Ashanti Region, and one of the most vociferous members of the House, it was becoming very difficult for MPs to shoulder the many economic demands on them.
The Chronicle sympathises with our constituency representatives. The demands, from school fees to funeral donations, are a drain on the scanty resources of many of those who seek the people’s vote to represent them in the august House.
In a third world situation, it is always a drain on one’s resources to be seen as a breadwinner. For those who seek the people’s vote, the demand is sometimes overwhelming.
Everybody seems to think that his or her Member of Parliament owes them a duty to care for their needs. After all, they voted to send the member to Parliament.
A number of MPs declining to contest again, point to too many demands on their meager resources as reasons to back out. They can no more stand the strain.
We are of the conviction that the Commission for Civic Education would take up the issue as one of its major education campaigns on our civic evolution. It is not fair on our members of [arliament to shoulder the financial burdens of their constituents.
A case or two could also be made of potential parliamentarians promising jobs and monetary emoluments in exchange for votes. In many of such situations, the constituents come to look upon their members of parliament as people who have been sent to the House in Accra, so that they could come back to the constituencies and solve their problems.
If you campaign on the basis of ‘job for the boys’ and ‘cash for the people,’ it is only natural that those who voted for you would expect monetary and other rewards.
Our parliamentary experiment is rather young. Thanks to military adventurers, we have had only seventeen years of continuous parliamentary practice out of 53 years of independence.
What this means is that there is the need for members to be long enough in the House to gain the kind of experience that would enliven debates in the House, as well as enrich committee work.
As it is, apart from the financial demands on our members of parliament, there is also the need for them to keep an eye on the occasional saboteur, who would want to discredit incumbent members in order to gain advantages for rivals.
It is a scenario that plays itself at the primaries in all political parties, as members of parliament square up for the campaign season.
Parliament is not a gold mine. It is the House where issues of state are seriously dissected for the benefit of all the people of this nation. Let us concern ourselves with the traditional roles required of our members in the House.
As constituents, we have the right to demand our representatives to account for how through debates on the floor of the House and committee work, they contribute to uplift the constituency and the country generally.
We would like to entreat those who have made it a habit of haranguing our representatives in the august House for monetary gains, to leave our MPs alone.
They may pay the odd school fees if they can. But, it is not their duty to shoulder the financial burden of the entire society. Parliament House in Accra is definitely not a gold mine!