North Tongu lawmaker, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa has said the only way fisticuffs in Parliament will stop is when the constitution and the Standing Orders of Parliament are respected by the leadership in Parliament especially the First Deputy Speaker, Joseph Osei Wusu (Joewise).
Mr. Ablakwa explained that the Standing Orders of Parliament are clear on how proceedings should be conducted in the House hence, any attempt to sidestep the procedure will attract some concerns.
Mr. Ablakwa said these in an interview with TV3’s William Evans-Nkum while calling on Ghanaians not to take the slap comment made by the General Secretary of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Mr. Asiedu Nketia out of context.
According to him, Mr. Asiedu Nketia was only calling for the right things to be done in the House by the Standing Orders.
Johnson Asiedu Nketia had said opposition lawmakers would continue to resist any attempt to pass the E-levy. He said the minority would use any force possible to prevent the controversial bill from being passed.
“So long as impunity will not stop, resistance has been imposed on us as a duty. if a deputy speaker decides to vote and at the same time play the role of a referee, if slapping him will make him do the right thing, don’t hesitate” he told the Ashanti regional youth wing of the NDC in Kumasi on Sunday, February 6
Mr. Asiedu Nketia further charged the supporters in the Ashanti region to adopt a winning attitude since, according to him, that is the surest way of winning the 2024 elections.
“NPP won Hohoe because they adopted a winning attitude although, we know a lot of things didn’t go down well,” he said.
Speaking on this matter Mr. Ablakwa told Evans-Inkum, “It is important that we do not take the General Secretary out of context.
“The General Secretary is saying that let us follow the laws. The constitution is clear, the Standing Orders are very clear. If you are in the chair you do not have a vote when you are presiding.
“The First Deputy Speaker himself, a few days prior, said that he knows he doesn’t have a vote so let us do things right. We all do not like the images that go out of parliament. We are decent people, we go to Parliament to debate, to do brain work, and to represent our people with the best of intentions, we do not go to Parliament with the mindset that we are going to some wrestling arena.
“If you want all of these disturbances to stop and we all do not want this tensions, the brawl, the fisticuffs, the physical contestations, things should never degenerate to that point, we do not want that. But the only way to prevent that is to stop the impunity to respect the constitution, to do things right.”
These comments come at a time stakeholders have said they do not expect fisticuffs in Parliament again as happened during the first session of the 8th Parliament last year.
For instance, Information Minister, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, urged Members of Parliament especially the opposition lawmakers not to physically obstruct the process in the House even if they strongly disagree on an issue.
He said MPs are allowed to disagree with the government on any issue but they must commit themselves to a civil, mature process of resolving the disagreements.
He said this while answering a question as to whether the fights in Parliament over the E-levy policy proposal in the 2022 budget will taint Ghana’s image on the international market, during a press conference addressed by Finance Minister Ken Ofori Atta in Accra on Wednesday, January 19.
The Ofoase Ayirebi lawmaker said “I think colleagues, you have to help us speak some truth to ourselves. Chaos is not a way of resolving disagreements. There is nothing wrong with parliamentarians disagreeing on a particular measure on the table. The rule says that when we disagree we debate to try and convince one another, we can have conversations and engagements like the Minister has done throughout, and then when we finish, we subject it to a vote.
“In this country, on the 7th of December every four years, before that, we may disagree on who should be president, we don’t fight about it. We allow people to campaign and debate and in the end we all queue up and vote, they count and take the decision that where the Majority went is where Ghana wants to go.
“That way, chaos does not ensue, international market and everybody else looks at us as a civilized, mature Republic.
“It is the same thing we have to do in Parliament. There is nothing wrong with disagreements, there have been various disagreements in times past, one side may say I don’t agree, I am going to walk out, I do t agree I am going to abstain, I don’t agree I am going to vote against it.
“But to begin to physically obstruct the process is something all of us collectively must speak against. It is not, will you go and beg them, will you go and negotiate, no. We must speak the truth that physically obstructing the process, imagines somebody going to physically go to obstruct voting on the election day in this country, we will agree that that is not the right thing to do. It is the same spirit we must bring to bear on this one.
“There is nothing wrong with disagreeing but we must commit ourselves to go through a civil, mature process for resolving those disagreements.”
On Monday, December 20, 2021, Members of Ghana’s Parliament could not hold their emotions as some exchanged brawls in the House just before the final vote on the controversial Electronic Transfer Levy Bill, also known as e-levy.
The sit-in Speaker, Joseph Osei-Owusu, had announced that a division would be followed to approve the Bill, presented under a certificate of urgency, and he was going to vote as well in his capacity as a Member of Parliament.
That appeared to have provoked the National Democratic Congress (NDC) members, who questioned his decision to vote after presiding over the night’s proceedings.
They moved to the front of the dais, issuing threats at the Bekwai MP.
This got the Majority MPs to also start agitations and immediately Mr. Osei-Owusu handed the presiding role to the Second Deputy Speaker, Andrew Amoako Asiamah, the fight broke out.