Majority leader Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu is warning wealthy people will soon takeover Ghana’s parliament with their “fat-wallet” considering the amount of money MPs spend to be elected into the House.
He revealed prospective parliamentary candidates “pay various amounts” in the name of kola, to people at the constituency level who are deemed the kingmakers.
“…I wouldn’t shy away from that; people pay various amounts which otherwise should be the provision of traditional kola,” he told TV3’s Evelyn Tengmaa in an exclusive interview Monday.
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu was reacting to a report by the Centre for Democratic Governance and the Westminster Foundation, which revealed members of parliament spend close to 86,000 dollars to get elected into the House.
He observed the amount of money involved in getting one elected to become a member of parliament was giving way to people with fat wallets as against experienced people who understand the work of parliament.
The current trend, Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said, was devaluing parliament as the rate at which experienced MPs were being replaced by newcomers was becoming alarming.
“Parliament is not a one year affair, its not a two year affair, its not a one term matter. People need to be in parliament to mature in the business of legislation; passing laws and exercising their oversight responsibilities,” he stated.
However, he said MPs are mostly voted out after just one or two terms for new people to replace them, a trend he said does not inure to the benefit of the House that has lately been criticized for its work.
Though he admitted that there are some newcomers who are “very good material” and “shown the potential of coming up strongly but somebody sits at the constituency and says that the person hasn’t paid me money so let’s take him out. It’s a tragedy to our democracy.
“If we’re not careful, we’re going to have a situation where parliament is going to be inundated by people with fat wallet. We’re going to encourage money bags to take over parliament; not on the account of their knowledge, not on the account of their experience, not on the account of their demonstrable competence but on the account of the size of their wallet and that certainly cannot be good for us,” he warned.
In his estimation, Ghana’s parliament is taking a nosedive due to how the experienced MPs are being “peeled off”, which noted was in turn affecting the quality of debate that goes on in the House.
“Increasingly, our parliament is taking a nosedive. I must agree that occasionally you have one or two from among the new people who enter parliament who may come up strongly,” he observed.
He added: “by and large, those who peel off, on the average, are better materials than those who are replacing them, and if you keep doing that, then parliament’s image may suffer some battery” he warned.