Radar | Oct 17,2020
Apr 1 , 2023
By Eden Sahle
Last week saw a glimpse of politicians taking the hot seat at the Parliament while debating about the public outcry. Few Members of the Parliament (MPs) were seen voicing the concerns and interests of their constituents confronting the incumbent.
It was great that some of the MPs took a break from praising each other for a change. However, they have a long way to go to understand their role as public representatives fully.
We have a dormant Parliament, where members clap to the tune of the incumbent as if they are guests at a wedding. Many do not seem to grasp their purpose, some even taking a nap in the middle of a session.
It is only appropriate that they seek debate on political and economic reforms and learn from past mistakes. Lawmakers must strive to check the influence and power of the executive and bring accountability in the interest of the electorate to the government.
However, their meekness goes to the point that whenever a strong statement is made or confrontation amongst them, which should have been the norm, it serves as a major headline.
This depressing predicament has profoundly impacted policy-making, serving as the prerequisite for the lack of a true multiparty democracy envisioned in the constitution.
The concentration of power in the hands of a single political party has diluted the ability of MPs to question and probe the government about any decision, blocking the path to democracy, which requires the existence of a difference of opinions that sets an opposition apart by its action.
The lack of diversity makes democratisation an exercise in futility since MPs with similar ideologies and parties will find loyalty to the incumbent more important than accountability to the public who placed so much hope and trust in them.
It must be understood that the function of MPs as representatives of the public is also to scrutinize the government's actions and inactions and help address society's challenges.
Nevertheless, practice shows that MPs come to listen and leave, disregarding the challenges of their constituents. Some do not even visit the town they came from to try and understand their constituents’ problems until the next election is around the corner.
Chronic poverty, ongoing unrest, widespread social chaos, and violent divisions are problems that require the utmost attention. The longer the MPs ignore such issues, the more complicated they will become.
The rift between representatives and constituents will fester the longer it is betrayed.
MPs need to amplify the problems, discuss solutions and work for the benefit of their constituents by being truthful. They should take every opportunity to fiercely challenge the government, raising questions and facts through well-prepared research.
The strong words used by MPs may not be swallowed easily. But it proves their care and concern for their constituencies while upholding the responsibility of the people that brought them to Parliament in the first place.
The trust in public institutions has been severely damaged, mostly owing to the hegemonic tendencies of the executive but also the timidity of Parliament that has stood by as the judiciary and democracy were incapacitated.
Parliamentarians must fully exercise their roles and plant the foundation for good governance. They carry the seed of accountability, where their actions and inactions will influence the rights the next generation will have.
MPs should be socially, economically, and politically conscious and consistently uphold democratic values.
A democratic parliament is transparent, accessible, accountable and effective. There must be genuine standards and enforceable codes of conduct for MPs. Accountable parliaments have members who are answerable to the electorate for their performance in office and the integrity of their conduct.
The responsibility of any member of parliament depends on the public need, understanding the satisfactory discharge of those duties according to public expectations. They should develop the habit of confronting one another to make a difference while we, the constituents, will be paying attention.
PUBLISHED ON Apr 01,2023 [ VOL 23 , NO 1196]
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