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06.07.2019 Feature Article

Why We Must Construct A New Purpose-Built Parliament

Why We Must Construct  A New Purpose-Built Parliament

One recommends reading the Fri 1 Dec 2017 Guardian UK article, entitled: ‘A tale of decay’: the Houses of Parliament are falling down', written by Charlotte Higgins, to all those in Ghana, who are taking part in the current national conversation, about the proposal to build a new Parliament House. It might give them a better perspective on the matter.

Hopefully, it will help trigger some discerning-minded Ghanaians to rethink their positions, on the need to build a new fit-for-purpose structure, to house our legislative branch of government. It is a pity that many cowardly MPs have chosen to play to the gallery in this matter, instead of justifying a bold move that will give them a better working environment, in which to perform their constitutional duties. Sheer hypocrisy.

Our main problem as a people is that we don't really value Ghana's Parliament - simply because since the 4th Republic came into being, it has been used cynically as an instrument of manipulative-power: when the ruling party controlling the executive branch also has a parliamentary majority.

That notwithstanding, let us not forget that Parliament passes laws that shape our society in many ways. That impacts our quality of life and our welfare as citizens. Parliament also approves many of the agreements entered into by the executive branch of government. That has a bearing on how transparent such agreements can be - which means less high-level-stealth-thievery, when serious and patriotic parliamentarians put the national interest ahead of party advantage, in dealing with such agreements.

Thus, Parliament plays a very important role in our system of government. Whiles we may despise the cynicism typified by the amoral-verbal-gymnastics of the sly Afenyo Markingses, of today's generation of parliamentarians, future MPs might be more principled and sincere individuals, who actually care about their nation and its people, and will therefore take the oversight role of Parliament over the executive branch of government much more seriously, in doing their work. They and the generations they will serve deserve to have a Parliament that is a fit-for-purpose structure built for their homeland Ghana. Haaba.

Above all, as a bulwark against tyranny, Parliament is unique because it has the constitutional right to protect society from an overbearing executive, by turning down bills it sends to the legislature for approval and passage into law. In light of that, to spend US $200 million-plus for the construction of a specially designed building for a Parliament of the digital era, is well worth it, in my humble view. In the fullness of time, one will have to be built anyway. If we put off putting up such a purpose-built structure for our legislature, now, it will end up costing future generations even more money to do so. That is patently not fair. Haaba.

Kofi Thompson
Kofi Thompson, © 2019

This author has authored 331 publications on Modern Ghana. Author column: KofiThompson

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