General News of Friday, 7 July 2017
A statesman, Vincent Cyril Richard Arthur Charles Crabbe, has pointed out Parliament as a weak link in Ghana’s governance system.
While some MPs are a stand-out quality, the former Supreme Court justice observed that “if you take the overall, I am afraid there are quite a number of people in parliament who in my view, should not be there”.
The latest critique follows a CDD Public lecture addressed by veteran journalist Kweku Baako who also castigated parliament for failing to deepen the culture of democratic accountability in Ghana.
The journalist with over 40 years professional experience, listed the sins of Parliament including its failure to investigate conflict of interest allegations against former President John Mahama in the Ford gift saga.
He also mentioned Parliament’s failure to probe in 1998, bribery allegation against President Jerry John Rawlings after he allegedly received $5million from Nigerian leader General Sani Abacha.
He blamed the legislature for failing to probe allegations of conflict of interest against former President John Agyekum Kufuor over the ownership of African Regent in 2007.
Another classical case Baako observed, is the failure by Parliament to probe the sale of state-owned Merchant Bank in 2014 and the “huge disaster” of the previous parliament’s failure to pass the Right to Information Bill in 2016.
Weighing in on the subject of accountability, the 93-year old Professor of law also lamented, little attention is paid to the quality of persons offering themselves up for elections.
“The democracy which we have counts peoples’ heads; they don’t count the content of their heads”, said VCRAC Crabbe who was Chairman of the Constituent Assembly for the drafting of the 1979 Constitution.
He expressed worry that Parliament is often reluctant to investigate its own members when allegations of impropriety are made against them.
He pointed to the British Parliament where an MP was sacked from Parliament for lying. He suggested ethics and values are not taken seriously in Parliament.
“I am not so sure we have the competent people who should be in Parliament”.
Ghana’s parliament has had to bear the brunt of several leading personalities and civil society groups concerned about the quality of scrutiny of legislative documents.
The immediate past Speaker of Parliament, Edward Doe Adjaho once expressed his shock at the quality of debate, motions and questions filed by the MPs during parliamentary proceedings.
As at July 2017, Parliament had recorded one scandal every three months. The latest involves bribery allegations against some MPs for receiving cash after they deliberated on a bill.