The Associate Executive Director of the Center for Democratic Development (CDD) Dr. Baffuor Agyeman-Duah has suggested that the country should start debating new ways of electing parliamentarians in the wake of the current phenomenon where seasoned and experienced sitting MPS suffer defeat at their constituency primaries.
"Parliament, as an institution, at all times need some of the seasoned, experienced and knowledgeable members to bring their experience and skills to bear on important national issues,” he stressed.
He said in an interview with The Chronicle in Accra yesterday that it was a tragic phenomenon for experienced MPs such as chairmen of select committees to be simply defeated in the primaries.
This development could weaken parliament in terms of its capacity to debate and deliberate on serious issues, especially at the committee levels.
Dr. Agyeman-Duah suggested that the country could adopt the “Stackling” system of the United States where mid year elections are held for 50% of the congressmen and retain 50% whose elections are not due at that same period.
The US has a four-year presidential election like Ghana with the congressional elections occurring in between the presidential election so that at each time they have 50% of the original MPs to retain.
“If Ghana adopts this system there would not be the opportunity of sweeping everybody away,” Dr. Agyeman-Duah said in the interview in reaction to media reports of the defeat of many prominent MPs, especially chairmen of select committees in the ongoing party primaries.
He stated that their defeat could be attributed to three factors, which include voters being fed up with their MPs so they must vacate their seats for others to continue, the alleged payment of bribes to influence the outcome of the elections and the non-performance of sitting MPs.
Dr. Agyeman-Duah conceded that he had not seen any evidence to support this assertion, and hoped that these allegations of vote buying were not true.
“However, if it is established that people are using money or wealth to influence the outcome of elections, then those persons must be sanctioned and banned from going to the honorable house”.
He added: “ if we come to a point where money begins to dictate who become our MPs and public servants then, I am afraid, we are distorting our democratic process like other countries”.
He applauded the electorate who have voted sitting MPs out based on their inability to perform. “It is good for democracy and surviving MPs would learn serious lessons from this experience.”
He, however, disagreed with those who had voted their MPs out simply because either they were fed up with them or, in their opinion, the MP was old so he or she should give way to a younger person.
He questioned the ability of a fresh graduate from University to perform as an MP if such a person had no working experience in the civil service, private sector or in civil society.
“With his or her fresh degree what knowledge, skills and experience would such MP have to be able to contribute to the institution of parliament and most importantly how can such a person survive if he or she does not get involved in corruption?”
Dr. Agyeman-Duah advised defeated MPs to enter into other ventures such as the private sector, to impart their experience to the younger generation.