Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu wants Ghanaians to see politicians as individuals who seek to make returns on their campaign investments and not as persons only responsible for giving out freebies.
In his view, the biggest problem within the Ghanaian political system is a situation where constituents knowing very well the mandate of parliamentarians which include formulating policies but decide to overly rely on legislators for their basic social needs.
The results of recent reports conducted by some institutions showed that majority of sitting Members of Parliament risk losing their seats because they have failed to visit or deliver on the promises for which they were voted into office.
But, the Suame Member of Parliament argued that such findings may be skewed because their constituents have been on their neck making all manner of outrageous demands.
Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu while speaking on The Point of View on Citi TV indicated that while it was very impossible for politicians to overlook earning back the resources they may have committed prior to being elected, they could also not be exploited in the name of politics – a situation he feels must be of national concern.
“For some of us, we respond to them, anytime any day. People come with their problems and make all kinds of demands. They will not come because they want to seek information; it is the provision of one resource or the other. So there are real problems we must be dealing with. I have always insisted that, if you want to milk the politician, you should remember that he is not into politics as a Father Christmas. He wants to recoup his investments. This is all over given the circumstances of how members get elected. So people should know that and these are matters that should concern us”, he said on The Point of View on Wednesday.
The Majority Leader partly blamed constituents for the continuous show of apathy during MP-Constituency engagements adding that many of such meetings he had organized recorded low numbers, hence claims that they have not been engaging voters after they had won elections were even questionable.
“Sometimes when I'm going to the constituency, I use public address systems to make announcements and [it is often repeated]. It gets to the hour and the community with a population of 10,000 has only 20 people present. So people don't want to listen to you. At times, your own party people and the constituents will not be there. So, people are simply not interested. They only come when there is an election year. That is when you call them, they will be appearing.”
Researches just perceptions – Haruna
Speaking on the same show, Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu also expressed shock at citizens for always painting politicians black over alleged corrupt activities despite the huge financial demands they make without recourse to their meagre salaries.
“We need to interrogate the issues. These are perceptions, they are not realities. Nobody has dismissed the fact that there is no corruption in public office. But the same constituents who make financial demands from politicians are those who turn around and accuse you of corruption. Demanding it is as wrong as giving it”, he noted.
The Tamale South MP, also dismissed assertions that his colleague Members of Parliament completely neglect their constituents by doing too little because he believes the researches by which these conclusions were drawn are perceived thoughts which cannot be justified.
He, however, admitted that although they were on course with their duties, it may simply not be enough or falls short of the expectations of voters for which he thinks the citizenry is peeved over.
“Many may not be satisfied but the constituents are always contacting us and making demands. So it is not accurate to say that MPs don't relate. If you say that the public or electorates are not satisfied with the engagements of MPs, I won't fault you because that may be true. That even depends on how much resources we have to be used in visiting frequently given the salaries that we take”, he said.