The Catholic Archbishop of Accra, Archbishop John Bonaventure Kwofie, has expressed worry over the increasing demand on members of Parliament (MPs) to perform functions outside their constitutional mandate.
He said the undue demands on MPs made it difficult for them to focus on their deliberative, legislative, and oversight responsibilities, which was detrimental to good governance.
Most MPs complained that the practice had a toll on them, yet they were unable to avoid it due to fear of losing elections, he said.
Archbishop Kwofie raised these concerns in an address read on his behalf at a Town Hall Meeting, organised by the Justice and Peace Commission of the Catholic Archdiocese of Accra, for the people of Kpone Katamanso.
On the theme: “Role of Parliament, Local Authorities and Participatory Governance in Community Development,” the meeting brought together representatives of political parties, the Municipal Assembly and traditional authorities to dialogue on matters of concern to the constituents.
Archbishop Kwofie said MPs were increasingly being required to provide services outside their mandated roles to constituents in the form of personal assistance and handouts to chiefs, business owners, local party activists and supporters.
“There is ever increasing demand on MPs to attend social gatherings including weddings, funerals, out-doorings; pay hospital bills, school fees, bride price; make various forms of donations to churches and mosques among other things in order to be voted into Parliament to represent the constituents,” he said.
Archbishop Kwofie indicated that the core mandate of MPs was to represent the constituency in parliamentary debates, make legislations, exercise executive oversight, and provide constituency services.
He said roles clearly defined for district assemblies by law were wrongfully assigned to MPs by constituents as the main initiators of constituency and district level development projects.
“The situation is further aggravated by the fact that many constituents and voters do not know the actual role of the Member of Parliament,” he said.
The Archbishop of Accra said the district, municipal and metropolitan assemblies were the institutions that needed to be empowered to deliver development projects within the various constituencies.
“If the assemblies deliver the requisite critical development infrastructure, the pressure on the MPs to deliver them may reduce, enabling the MPs to focus on their constitutionally assigned roles.”
Mr Solomon Appiah, the Municipal Chief Executive for Kpone Katamanso, said in deciding who to vote for in the upcoming parliamentary elections, voters should consider how the person could contribute to the nation’s development as a whole.
Mr Simeon Teye Narteh, Spokesperson for the Kpone Traditional Authority, said chiefs had been instrumental in the fight for Ghana’s democratic development.
He indicated, however, that presently chiefs had been relegated to the background when it came to decision-making.
“The land is ours. The people are our people. And therefore there is the need for a thorough consultation between the political office and that of the chieftaincy institution,” Mr Narteh said.
Mr Hopeson Yaovi Adorye, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Parliamentary Candidate (PC) for Kpone Katamanso, the only PC present at the meeting, said his vision included promotion of education, employment, security, peace and stability for the Constituency.
He promised to help build one public senior high school in the Constituency as well as empower the basic schools to enhance their performance.
Mr Adorye said he would institute a “Talent Discovery” programme to unearth the talents of young persons in sports, music and other creative disciplines, which could help generate income for the youth.
He said he would help tighten security in the constituency by providing several police posts, erecting more streetlights, and ensuring that activities of land guards were minimized by enforcing the laws.
Mr Kwaku Bempah, Oyibi-Fafraha District Police Commander, charged officers to be non-partisan and execute their duties in a professional manner during the December polls.
He advised the youth to be of good conduct as anyone found misbehaving would be dealt with by the law.
Mr Seth Sortie, the Director, National Commission for Civic Education, Kpone Katamanso Municipal Assembly, cautioned the people on the continued rise of COVID-19 cases in the country.
He said it was important for them to keep observing all the protocols, including washing and sanitizing of hands, wearing face masks, and practicing social distancing to prevent the country from a second wave of the pandemic.