As the horrible events at the Westgate mall in Nairobi still unfold, I want to highlight the impressive use of social media by Kenyan authorities like the police and ministry of interior. Many can learn from them!
My friend Emilie pointed me to the This Is Africa site. It is a spanking fresh culture site that trumpets “Africa for a new generation!” and sports subheadlines like “city life”, “music” and “art&fashion”.
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.