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Concerns Mount Over Departure of Experienced MPs in Ghana

Majority Leader Warns of Democracy's Vulnerability Amidst Loss of Seasoned Lawmakers

by Ikeoluwa Juliana Ogungbangbe
Experienced MPs in Ghana

The Majority Leader in Ghana’s Parliament, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, recently shared his apprehensions about the state of the country’s democracy in light of the increasing departure of experienced lawmakers from the legislative house. In a candid interview on GTV, he underlined the urgent need for profound introspection within political parties to address this alarming trend that threatens the stability and growth of Ghana’s democratic institutions.

Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, who also serves as the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, didn’t mince his words when he called upon Ghana’s two major political parties, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC), to take decisive action. He asserted that if this trend of losing seasoned lawmakers continues unabated, it could ultimately compromise the effectiveness and credibility of Ghana’s democracy as a whole.

“I am worried about the NPP, and I am worried about the Parliament of Ghana, and I am worried about our democracy. The longer a person stays in Parliament, the better their performance will be. It is for him, it is for his party, it is for Parliament, and it is for our democracy,” expressed Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu passionately during the interview.

His concerns are rooted in a clear understanding of the valuable role that experienced lawmakers play in shaping the legislative landscape of the country. These seasoned parliamentarians bring not only knowledge but also the wisdom gained through years of service. They contribute significantly to the effective functioning of Parliament and the development of sound policies and legislation that benefit the nation.

Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu’s sentiments reflect the broader anxieties shared by many Ghanaians, who have witnessed a noticeable trend of experienced legislators exiting the political scene. The departure of seasoned MPs from both the NPP and the NDC, Ghana’s two leading political parties, has raised questions about the implications for the country’s governance and political stability.

In the recent primaries of the NPP, a significant number of incumbent Members of Parliament, totaling 28, faced defeat in their bids for re-election. Furthermore, 18 NPP legislators, including Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu himself, decided not to contest in the elections voluntarily. These departures have created a void in the party’s ranks, with many wondering who will step in to fill the shoes of these experienced lawmakers.

On the flip side, the NDC also witnessed the defeat of 16 incumbent legislators during its parliamentary primaries held in May 2023. This outcome further underscores the ongoing trend of experienced MPs exiting the political arena, raising concerns about the potential loss of institutional knowledge and the ability of the legislature to perform its critical functions effectively.

The departure of seasoned lawmakers from Ghana’s Parliament is a multifaceted issue with several underlying factors. One prominent factor is the desire for fresh faces and new ideas within political parties. There is a growing sentiment among some party members and the electorate that continuous incumbency might hinder innovation and change. As a result, there is a push for new candidates who can offer fresh perspectives and solutions to the country’s challenges.

Additionally, the competitive nature of primary elections within political parties plays a role in the high turnover of incumbent MPs. The dynamics of internal party politics, including the need to secure nominations and fend off challenges from within the party, can be intense. This has led to some long-serving MPs opting not to contest in primaries, thereby paving the way for new candidates.

The changing demographics and voter preferences also contribute to the departure of experienced lawmakers. In a rapidly evolving political landscape, parties may seek candidates who can better connect with younger voters and address their concerns. This shift in focus can sometimes lead to the sidelining of long-serving MPs in favor of candidates who resonate more with the changing electorate.

Despite these underlying factors, the departure of experienced MPs is not without consequences. The wealth of knowledge and experience that seasoned lawmakers bring to the table is invaluable. They possess a deep understanding of parliamentary procedures, the legislative process, and the nuances of policymaking. Losing this institutional knowledge can hinder the effective functioning of Parliament and the development of well-informed policies.

Moreover, the departure of experienced legislators can have a ripple effect on the political landscape. It can create a leadership vacuum within political parties, as the exit of senior figures leaves gaps that need to be filled. The loss of experienced MPs can also impact the party’s ability to navigate complex legislative challenges and effectively hold the government accountable.

The concerns expressed by Majority Leader Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu resonate with those who believe that Ghana’s democracy thrives when it benefits from the wisdom and experience of long-serving lawmakers. He aptly highlighted the positive correlation between an MP’s tenure and their performance in Parliament. Seasoned legislators tend to be more effective at representing their constituents, contributing to policy debates, and shaping the legislative agenda.

In response to this trend, Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu called for both the NPP and the NDC to engage in deep introspection. He stressed the need for these political parties to carefully consider the implications of the constant turnover of MPs and the potential erosion of institutional memory within Parliament. The message is clear: preserving the experience and knowledge of seasoned lawmakers is crucial for the continued growth and stability of Ghana’s democracy.

In conclusion, the concerns expressed by Majority Leader Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu regarding the departure of experienced lawmakers from Ghana’s Parliament shed light on a critical issue facing the country’s democracy. While the desire for fresh perspectives and new faces in politics is valid, the loss of institutional knowledge and experienced leadership cannot be underestimated. It is a delicate balancing act for political parties to harness the energy of new candidates while preserving the wisdom of seasoned MPs. The future of Ghana’s democracy depends on finding this equilibrium.

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