21 April 2010

Ghana: Media Must Educate Public On Parliamentary Proceedings -MPs

The Minority Leader, Hon. Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu has called on the media to play a significant role in educating the public on the activities of parliament. He said since the country returned to constitutional rule in 1992, the media have done little to inform the citizenry about functions of the legislature, thus making them have a negative perception about proceedings in parliament.

Mr. Mensah-Bonsu, who was addressing media practitioners at a forum in Ho, to interact with journalists in the Volta region, as part of Parliamentary outreach programme on Monday, this week, mentioned the lack of commitment on the part of some journalists in parliament to follow parliamentary proceedings to the end, to enable them report adequately about debates and activities in Parliament.

The Minority Leader, in buttressing his point, said many parliamentarians were being blamed by the electorate for not being vocal in parliament, which might not be so, but the lack of proper communication has created that bad impression about the MPs. "Let me say that no MP is a liability in Parliament, because the MPs work in committees and every committee member makes an impact, which people do not know".

Mr. Mensah-Bonsu suggested that parliamentary reporters must be allowed to report from parliament for a long time, to enable them understand parliamentary terminologies and their appropriate usage. According to him, the tendency of changing reporters after every term of government would not create room for these reporters to gather enough experience about parliamentary work.

According to him, the media, as the fourth estate of the realm has a crucial role to play in the political dispensation of the country's democracy since as watchdogs, they check the activities of the executive and the other two arms of government. He, therefore, advised journalists to stop associating themselves with political parties without thinking about the consequences of such decision on the public.

The Majority Leader of Parliament, Hon. Cletus Avorka, on his part said the media should respect press freedom by being responsibly and work within the ethics of the profession, and should refrain from misinforming the public on national issues but rather concentrate on developmental issues.

Mr. Avorka urged the media to articulate the ideals of parliament to the electorate, and that anything short of this would amount to misinformation. He further urged the media to be circumspect in reporting parliamentary proceedings so as to provide accurate information to the public.

He noted that Parliament acknowledged the importance of journalists and was committed to partnering them to work more effectively by educating the electorate on parliamentary activities as well as inform parliament about the public perceptions and concerns by the public, regarding parliamentary work.

Mr. Avorka advised media houses to make available special pages for parliamentary issues and other areas of development to deepen the democratic development of the country.

The Volta Regional Chairman of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), Mr. Victor Kwawukume said even though the media plays an important role in governance, they are not given the necessary support to deliver, noting that press freedom alone would not help the media.

The Volta Regional Minister, Mr. Joseph Amenowode, commended the media in the region for their cooperation and support, noting that the media in the region had exhibited high level of professionalism and urged them to keep it up for the accelerated development of the region and the country in general.

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