Why Ghana’s MPs Should Be Grateful for their Grades

Photo of the Floor of the Ghanaian Parliament from www.parliament.gh

From Graham, I got the tip about Ghana’s Members of Parliament having been assessed in an Political Performance Index performed by the African Watch Magazine.

Out of the 230 parliamentarians, 24 received F’s. Others received  As and Bs. There were also Cs and Ds. See the full list of grades for Ghanaian MPs here. From a teacher’s point of view, I know that grades sometimes create “learning moments” – reflection and insight could come out of a low grade. This seem to not have happened here. This morning, some of the politicians are lashing out on the grading exercise.

One Member of Parliament that was upset was, Honourable Abayatei from Sege constituency (rated ‘C’), he said to Citi News:

“they sit down and talk rubbish and write rubbish. If they have no work to do, they must shut up…What right has he got to grade us? What assessment has he got the right to do? …Those of you in the Media must call your friends to be sensible. Criteria don’t even come in because he has no right. Worldwide has there been any grading of any Parliament?”

It seems the rating has been done by independent professionals looking at several criteria. According to Ghanamma it was “MP’s Knowledge of Law Making and the Constitution”, “Participation in Legislative Business”, “Contribution to Parliamentary Debates”, “How The Ideas and Suggestions of MPs Reflect Societies Need” and “Interest and Tolerance of Divergent Political Views”. Although this might not be the best and fairest rating, I applaud this survey.

And this is why I think MPs should also be grateful for their grades:

1. The parliament is weak in Ghana, the only way of getting more power is getting more public support, then we need to see you are working.

2. You were probably rated high in the public eye. Only yesterday, the news of laptop computers with Internet connections being given to MPs was shared (following the car loan etc.), and Ghanaians were heard muttering about not having water in their houses. That’s an F grade the Ghanaian people have given to you already (although I personally think the laptops was the best investment the Government of Ghana could do at this point, but that is another post, I guess).

3. Discussion and information sharing should be encouraged by politicians so that you who work hard stand out and get reelected. Someone has done your work for you!

4. It is a PR opportunity. Maybe you initiated something we haven’t heard of, this is your chance to inform us!

5. A hardworking MP loves accountability. Do you really want to share benches with people who do not do their part?

On this note, I have for some time been thinking about how to introduce something similar to Mzalendo, The Eye on the Kenya Parliament. It is a website that publishes information on MPs and their parties. There are also sections for what MPs do; questions, motions and bills they are involved in hence “grading” can be done by the Kenyan people using the facts available. Through such an innovative parliament watch, we can judge for ourselves.

Now with such information available, it would be easier to do a fair assessment. But regardless of that and regardless if a politician feels we have the “right” to do so, we will grade MPs performance.

Isn’t it part of the political game?

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  1. It is a mystery why the MPs have reacted so strongly. It makes ones think they have something to hide. But more likely they have never ever been called to account before. Accountability is a great thing and let’s hope the gradings will continue and be updated as Members improve.

  2. Isn’t it a mystery! Good point though that gradings need to happen regularly. Thanks for the comments, Graham.

  3. We were SHOUTING not muttering about their spending the scarce resources of the country. Graham, I understand AfricaWatch has no representative in Ghana’s parliament and the editor (who is Ghanaian) has not been to parliament neither! I have questions, but what do I do with MPs’ grading? It won’t solve any of Ghana’s problems. For me, this rating coupled with one deputy ministry insulting the general secretary of the NPP as a ‘cocoa-farmer-villager’ is just a diversionary hocus pocus away from the serious issues confronting Ghana. SHS students cannot get accommodation or classroom because of a policy and government inaction. Teachers are owed salaries since 2009. Millions of cedis, and the MPs make noise. But Kajsa, where is your blog post on Ghana’s education sector?

  4. NY – Thanks for your comment, I agree with you that this type of discussion takes time away from pressing issues, but maybe it needs to be had so that MPs understand that we WILL DEMAND accountability. Education blogpost? It is long overdue, but coming!

  5. I will like to take issue with your remart about the laptops being the best investment the government could do at this point. I couldn’t disagree more. We live in a country where the majority of the people do not have access to clean, reliable water and reliable electricity. It has been that way since I can remember and I am almost 40 years old!!!!
    Something needs to change in this country. Our legislators seem to forget that they work for us. What has democracy brought the people? We might need to embrace the Singapore model to get us on the right track.

  6. Hi Emmanuel, thanks for you post. I am yet to flesh out that “computer-positive” argument, but basically I will say that in today’s world ALL the MPs need laptops, only then can they do their jobs. For them to be able to make good decisions for us they should have access to the best communication tools.

    Post to come.

  7. Bravo to you and all the MPs.Ghana is one of the natural blessed nations but as the saying goes ( se woannhwe dee wowo so yie a ehwere wo).Since the time of Kwame Nkruma till now,we ‘ve been talking about a journey to future ,when are we reaching there?Untll Jesus comes. Ghanaians open your eyes, How can the Vice President says that Ghanians prematurely die because we don’t keep fit?.Is he fooling us or he doesn’t know his office? How many Health posts are there in Ghana, How many clinics? How many hospitals? How many ambulances? Does he know common “hygien” .Does he know the caurses of desease?. Environmental cleaning and control? Where in Ghana do we throw the waste prodcts(toilet,sewage, industrial remains) Every where is contaminated.Why does he put us on a laughing stock? I think some is not a fool.