By: Ewoenam Kpodo | Voltaonlinegh.com |
Executive Director for African Centre for Parliamentary Journalism and Research (ACPJR), Harrison Belley has observed that most Members of Parliaments (MPs) had failed to properly represent their constituents in Parliament.
Mr. Belley said ideally, MPs should visit th eir constituencies to engage members on the agenda of Parliament and seek their opinion to ensure their views were represented in discussions in the House but “when they are in their comfort zone, they don’t care about it.”
According to the EP University College (EPUC) Lecturer, an MP’s “decision in Parliament is supposed to be informed by his/her engagement with the community.”
He cited for instance, the Right to Information Law that before that Bill was passed, the MPs were supposed to have visited the constituencies they represented for their (the people) consent and inputs into the discussion.
Mr. Belley said though some might attribute their failure to meet with their constituents to various reasons contrary to the standing orders of Parliament, refusal to honour telephone interviews on radio stations and granting interviews to the media in the constituencies and regions should not be tolerated because the media served as another platform for engagement with constituents.
To him, on Mondays that Parliamentary sitting does not hold, MPs could engage the media in their constituencies and brief constituents on what transpired in parliament in recognition of their (MPs) roles as representatives of their people.
The Executive Director made this known on Thursday while addressing concerns from the media that some MPs in the Volta Region turned down offers to speak to them on issues of interest to the citizens during the launch of a report by the non-profit organisation at EPUC main campus, Ho.
The report titled, “Monitoring Media Coverage of Parliament in the Volta and Oti Regions” established that majority of the respondents had “limited understanding of parliamentary practice and procedures in Ghana.”
The study also revealed that “all the programme (morning show) hosts have never had capacity building in parliamentary reporting in the last three years” with majority not reviewing “the hansard of Parliament and have not set eyes on the agenda of Parliament, order and vote and proceedings.”
The research which considered discussions of Parliament of Ghana from January-April 2019, employed qualitative data from analysis of issues and discussions on morning show programmes, purposively sampling 20 radio stations, 20 programme hosts/journalists, 20 media panelists, 15 editors and 10 media owners from both regions.
According to Mr. Belley, the study by Africa’s premier provider of parliamentary journalism and research training was to assess the nature of media coverage of Parliament and whether it contributed to a better understanding of its functions and processes to ensure “accurate, fair, impartial and balanced coverage” of its activities.