18.07.2006 Social News

Haruna Cautions Media

By Chronicle
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Minority Spokesman on Communications, Haruna Iddirisu, has cautioned that inaccurate and misleading reporting of Parliamentary proceedings is a breach of Parliamentary privilege for which journalists could be cited for contempt.

"But I'm aware that MPs are restrained not to go that far because of the saying that 'to err is human'".

He stated that the media has a role to play in deepening the process of political accountability not only when they are campaigning.

"By your report, you would be holding political accountability".

Addressing members of the Parliamentary press corps on the roles of the Minority in Parliament, Haruna said the most critical responsibility of the Minority is to hold government accountable, which can be achieved by virtue of conststitutional provisions.

This, he said, is the reason why a minority party chairs the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament.

"It is to ensure that what is appropriated as an appropriation Act is religiously implemented by the executive". He noted that journalist, like MPs, share the same burden to have a deeper understanding of the procedures of Parliament and the workings of the legislation.

"So the Minority at all times would have to hold government accountable and ensure good governance".

He added that an area of ensuring good governance, which imposes a responsibility on the Minority, is to ensure that government upholds the fundamental freedoms of the Ghanaian so that if there is infringement and liberties or excesses on the part of the executive, the Minority would expose them.

"The assumption is that the executive holds so much influence on power that the power ought to be checked at all times".

According to him, the media should make the public hear what otherwise they would not, so that so that when the Minority Leader calls the Speaker a dictator and the Majority Chief Whip also calls him a terrorist, it is of public interest.

"You must let the public know what it is that MPs think about the headship of Parliament".

He said as much as the powers of Ghana's Parliament are not doubted, whether those powers are exercised rightly may be an issue of disagreement.

"The role of the media is to let us know".

The spokesman said Ghana's Parliament has legislative powers and the legislative authority in the 1992 constitution is vested in Parliament.

He disclosed that there are several MPs who are not interested in the House's proceedings beyond debates on the floor when it comes to consideration stages, adding that it has undermined the effectiveness of Parliament as an institution.

"It is only the media that can make you accountable to your people".

He suggested that members of the Parliamentary press corps be assigned to the Standing Committees in Parliament so that journalist would appreciate better the work of the committee system.

He mentioned that the privileges of MPs are not meant for just themselves, but to ensure that the authority of Parliament is not undermined and guarantee effective performance as MPs.

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