Parliamentary debate must improve to honour JH Mensah

Benjamin Mensah, GNA

Accra, Sept. 25, GNA – There are calls within
Parliament to improve the quality of debates and name structures of the House to
immortalise the late Joseph Henry (J H) Mensah, former Majority Leader of the

The House, recalled from recess on Monday for
a five-day emergency meeting, eulogised the late economist and politician for
his astuteness, objectivity, and forthrightness devoid of partisanship.

Contributions from Members of both sides of
the House, after a statement  by Majority
Leader  Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu,
eulogizing the late politician and economist, advocated that Speakers and
others in leadership positions, who rendered dedicated service to the House and
the nation must be immortalised.

Alhaji Mohammed Mubarak Muntaka, the Chief
Whip of the Minority described the late former senior colleague as a courageous
and brilliant person, who moved to mentor a lot of people.

Alhaji Muntaka observed that the late Majority
Leader, exhibited a lot of decorum even when expressing opposing views, and was
very erudite as he made contributions on the floor of the House.

However the quality of debates, he noted, now
in the House has gone down drastically, so bad, attributing the fall in the
quality to some members not doing enough research, or not given enough time to
speak on the issues, among others.

Additionally some members of the House had
often exhibited unacceptable behaviour that would not have happened in the days
when the late J H Mensah was leader of the House.

Alhaji Muntaka noted the courage of the late
JH Mensah, in criticising publicly his own party, the New Patriotic Party on
policy issues when it was in power as he did when another party had been in

Mr Eugene Boakye Antwi, MP for Subin called
for the compiling of the works of the late JH Mensah, as he described him as
someone who held and defended the integrity of Parliament.

Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu said the late
JH Mensah was one of the most respected Ghanaian politicians; and appealed for
more time for contributions to enhance the depth of debates.

However, Mr Joseph Osei–Owusu, First Deputy
Speaker, who took over from the Speaker Prof Aaron Michael  Oquaye during the  contributions, remarked that, time allotments
are reached between the  Majority and
Minority Leader,  the Speaker only
enforces the agreements.

The late J H Mensah, who died at the 37
Military Hospital in Accra on July 12, 2018, has since been buried.

Born October on 30, 1928, J.H. Mensah’s
political life saw him serve as Finance Minister under Kofi Abrefa Busia’s
Progress Party (PP) administration from 1969 to 1972, which was cut short by
Ignatius Kutu Acheampong’s coup.

He was also the Senior Minister under
President John Kufuor decades later in 2001.

J.H. Mensah’s life in politics began in 1953,
when he worked as an assistant inspector of taxes.

In 1958, he joined the United Nations
Secretariat at the Centre for Development Planning, Projections and Policies.

He returned to Ghana in 1961 to Head the
National Planning Commission.

Under his leadership, the National Planning
commission drew up and implemented the Seven-Year Development Plan from 1962 to

In 1969, he was elected to Parliament and
became the Minister of Finance until 1972.

After Acheampong’s 1972 coup, J.H. Mensah was
imprisoned under the National Redemption Council (NRC) in 1975.

He was later forced into exile in the early
1980s but still headed a group opposed to the Provisional National Defence
Council (PNDC) led by Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings.

After Ghana entered its Fourth Republic, in
1992, he served on the African Advisory Council of the African Development Bank
from 1993 to 1997.

In December 1996, J.H. Mensah successfully contested
for a parliamentary seat in Sunyani East District on the ticket of the NPP and
served as the Minority Leader in Parliament.

He was re-elected in 2000 when the NPP assumed
the mantle of governance after over three decades in opposition.

J.H. Mensah was born to a father, who was in
the Gold Coast Civil Service and a mother who was a trader at the Kumasi
Central Market.

He was the third of 10 children.

He attended St Peter’s Cathedral School, in
Kumasi and Achimota School thereafter.

After Achimota School, J.H. Mensah went to the
University of Gold Coast, where he studied economics. He is on record as the
first President of the Junior Common Room of the Legon Hall.


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