Enforcing Laws Governing Elections

30-10-2019



Members of Parliament (MPs) have decried the alarming rate of vote buying and monetization creeping into the electoral process. They therefore called for radical changes within political parties and politicians to eliminate corruption from the way and manner political party flag-bearers, parliamentary candidates, as well as national, regional, and constituency executives are elected. 

 

The lawmakers bemoaned the material and financial demands from their constituents that have become so high such that if not checked, many good politicians will shy away from becoming MPs and making the House the preserve of high bidders. Winners therefore find ways and means to recoup their monies spent during election campaigns to their financiers at the detriment of Parliament and the country's fragile economy.

 

Contributing to the statement made by Hon Ras Mubarak on enforcing laws governing elections, the legislators praised and congratulated the Honourable member for his bravery in bringing this menace and canker to the floor of the house. 

 

The Kumbungu MP noted that though there are adequate legislations on our statute books which make the buying and selling of votes an offense in Ghana and punishable, none of MPs  can hold up their heads up before God and man and boast that they have complied with and have-not at one point or another broken the law.

 

Ras Mubarak stated further that Members donate their constituents with items such as motorbikes, mobile phones, cloths, television sets, gas cylinders and other expensive and luxurious items such as cars but that though they are lawmakers, none can say that they have gone to pay the necessary taxes on such gifts as per the Internal Revenue Service Act 529. This Act stipulates the payment of a 15% tax rate on any gift valued at fifty cedis.   

 

Honourable Mubarak suggested that it should be part of their duty as lawmakers to help in the education of the ideas and provisions in the laws parliament has enacted to their constituents and the general public. He also noted that there are enough good laws that deal with these violations and that if these already existing legislations are not enforced, it makes enacting new ones to deal with same violations unattractive.

 

He further stated that the time is long overdue for Parliament to enact legislation that would compel politicians and political parties to disclose the source of their funding and also put a cap on how much Ghanaians running for elections can take by way of donations from institutions and individuals.

 

The Kumbungu lawmaker prefaced his statement with a BBC report he monitored last Friday in which a Japanese Trade Minister Isshu Suagawara who also doubles as an MP resigned just one month into the job after he was accused of violating election laws by gifting his constituents with food items such as watermelons, oranges, roes and royal jelly. The report also stated that the resigned MP made a funeral donation equivalence of one thousand Ghana cedis through his constituency secretary to the family of a constituent who had passed away. The report continued that the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe accepted responsibility in having appointed him and deeply regretted and apologised to the people of Japan.

 

Ras Mubarak lamented that it will be incredible in Ghana to force a Minister or MP to resign because he has donated just a thousand Ghana cedis to a grieving family or being accused of vote buying because he or she had gifted constituents with water melons, and oranges in the lead up to election.

 

The Majority Leader and MP for Suame Hon. Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu in his contribution emphasised the need for public education on the actual role of MPs to reduce the monetization of our democracy. He also lamented how money was gradually making it difficult for competent people to willingly put themselves up for elections leading to House losing experienced lawmakers who voluntarily quit Parliament to preserve their dignity and integrity.  He therefore recommended a collaboration between the leadership of both NPP and NDC to urgently address the matter.

 

After contributions by members, First Deputy Speaker Hon. Joseph Osei-Wusu then referred the statement to the Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs for broader consultation and also make suggestions and recommendations through a report to the House by the end of The First Meeting of The Fourth Session of this Parliament.

 



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