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13.03.2009 General News

Majority, Minority fight over use of offensive word

By Emmanuel Kpeglah & Jocelyn A. Bolten - Ghanaian Chronicle

The Majority Chief Whip, Hon. Enoch Teye Mensah, has condemned the Minority Leader, Hon Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu, for bullying other Members of the House with his oratory prowess.

The rivalry ensued when the Minority drew the attention to the Speaker, Rt. Hon Justice Bamford-Addo, of the absence of the Finance Minister, Dr. Kwabena Duffuor, who as parliamentary practice demands, must be present before the budget is debated, since he was directly responsible for most of the budget contents.

This happened when the Member for Tano North, Hon. Ernest Debrah, took his turn in contributing to the debate on the budget statement delivered to parliament by the Finance Minister. On a point of order, the Member for Agona West, Obodai Samuel, notified the House about the absence of the Dr. Duffuor.

In response to this omission, the Majority Chief Whip said the Minister was attending to some pressing issues that had necessitated his absence.

This prompted Hon. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu to say that this should not be the justifiable reason for his absence, and that the debates could proceed.

He contended that when the National Democratic Congress (NDC) was in the minority, they criticized the New Patriotic Party (NPP) on that omission, and cautioned that it should not be a convention, and that commonsense should have prevailed.

Hon. Enoch Teye Mensah did not take kindly to the word “commonsense,” quoting Standing Order 93 section 2, which states that members should not use offensive language against each other.

He noted that it was wrong for the Minority Leader to address the House in such language, and stressed that his body language, on the other hand, was not polite and portrayed disrespect to the other members.

He called on him to honourably withdraw the statement, which the Minority Leader declined.

He accused Hon. Kyei Mensah-Bonsu of bullying other members with his rhetoric, citing an event on the floor of the House, in which he picked on Hon. Charles Hodogbey, Member for North Tongu, who he accused of misleading the house with “points of disorder.”

Hon. Kyei Mensah-Bonsu explained that what he said was misconstrued, and restated it the second time, but it was rejected by the Majority on the basis that it was refined, unlike the earlier statement which was offensive.

To patch up the issue between the Minority and the Majority, the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Bamford-Addo, said she agreed that the Minister must be present, but if there was any reason that prevented him, he should have made that known earlier.

She said the members should have a better way of resolving issues in the House, in order to speed its progress.

Meanwhile deputy ministers who passed through the vetting were recommended and approved unanimously by the House, having satisfied the Appointments Committee's criteria for ministerial appointments.

They were Hon. Mrs. Elizabeth Amoah-Tetteh, Deputy Minister for Education, Dr. Kwabena Donkor, Deputy Minister for Energy, Hon. Dr. Joseph Annan, Deputy Minister for Education, and Hon. Emmanuel Armah-Kofi Buah, Deputy Minister for Energy.

Rt. Hon Bamford-Addo wished them well on their appointments.