The Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, has announced his intention to quite active politics after the end of eight session of Parliament on January 6, 2025.
He said after serving Member of Parliament since January 7, 1997 [more than 23 years as of now], he was of the firm conviction that the career of Parliamentarian was a noble one.
“I can testify from my 23 years as a Member of Parliament that it has been most gratifying and challenging but I have no regrets as it has given me the very opportunity to serve my country,” he said.
‘I’ve sworn to myself’
Speaking at a dialogue with the core leadership of the legislature in Parliament on Wednesday [August 5, 2020] Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said “I rose to the occasion when I identified the opportunity for more work and by God’s grace, and dint of hard work, I made a career that may have come to an end at the end of the eighth Parliament.
“I have sworn to myself; and let me assure that I do not intend to outpace honourable Alban Sumani Bagbin, the Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament,” the Suame MP said.
The meeting allowed the leaders to deliberate on the prospects and challenges of nurturing career legislators and identify institutional and systemic factors fueling the high attrition rate depriving Parliament with requisite skills and competencies to execute its mandate.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, who is the current Majority Leader, is also the Chairperson of the Special Budget Committee, House Committee and Business Committee of Parliament.
He has held several leadership positions in Parliament. He was the secretary to the Minority Caucus during his first term in Parliament in 1997.
Between 2001 and 2002, he became the Deputy Majority Whip.
In 2002, he became the Majority Chief Whip.
From 2007 to 2009, he became the Deputy Majority Leader and Minister of State in-charge of Parliamentary Affairs.
From 2009 to 2013, he became the Minority Leader and from 2013 to 2017, he was re-elected in the same position.
Democracy must be guided, guarded
The Leader of Government Business in Parliament noted that globally lawmakers, such as the late US congressman, Mr John Lewis, who served 17 terms after being in congress for 38 years, were recognised as iconic figures.
On the contrary, he said in Ghana where long-serving legislators were given names that were “pregnant with derogatory connotations that do not encourage Members of Parliament.”
According to him, established democracies the world over were guided and guarded as party executives were not elected but chosen by party leaders at the national level.
He, therefore, questioned why at end of the life of Parliament, the slews gate would be opened to all for all new comers to compete with incumbent MPs for seats, a practice that he said was subject to corruption.
For instance, he said the whole sale primaries that were conducted in all the constituencies, whether there were incumbent legislators or not, was causing parties to lose control over their MPs as candidates singularly dictated their way to Parliament with the highest bidder winning the slot.
He, therefore, urged political parties to amend their constitutions and resort to other methods of choosing their Members of Parliament.
In his view, the leadership of the Majority and Minority alike should be allowed to assess the performance of the MPs and based on determined standard criteria reports should be sent to the national and constituency executives to determine whether the incumbent should continue as an MP or not.
“If at the end of the term, if he or she is recalcitrant then voting must be resorted to and where there has to be voting it has to involve all card-bearing members of the party in the constituency and if that happens the monetisation will disappear,” he said.
Such measure, he added, would help to cloth Parliament and parliamentarians to at least keep pace with the Executive and maintain delicate balance of relational power between the two arms of government, saying “this is the hallmark of democratic parliamentary systems.”