In modern democratic society, parliament is a group of peoples' representatives who are elected to make a country's laws and discuss overall national affairs. Similarly, in modern politics and history, it is a legislative body of government that plays an important role in the general life of a nation.
Scholars categorize the functions of modern parliament into three main parts: a) making new laws, changing existing laws and repealing laws which are no longer needed, b) representing and articulating the views and wishes of the citizens in decision making processes c) overseeing the activities of the executive bodies via hearings and inquiries (scrutiny).
According to a study conducted by United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), achieving good governance requires the existence of a strong, effective and efficient parliament. This is because parliament plays a crucial role in evaluating, collating and presenting the views and needs of the people, articulating their expectations and aspirations in determining the national development agenda.
Parliament also helps to identify problems and policy challenges that require attention and assist in overcoming bureaucratic inertia.
The Ethiopian parliament comprises 547 members, elected for five-year term. When the House takes a three-month long recess, July, August and February of course, MPs engage in important activities that benefit the society in their respective constituents. For parliamentarians recess does not mean sitting idle, it has become a time to collect information from the grassroots firsthand.
In her previous exclusive interview with The Ethiopian Herald, Almaz Mesele, an MP, said that being a representative of the electorates is a great responsibility that needs greater commitment and determination to well identify the problems and strong sides of the society to take appropriate measures at a wider level. The society represented is also duty bound to speak out the activities that need to be corrected. MPs should get in touch with the electorate to get actual information on issues regarding governance and other social, political and other related aspects.
They also pay visits to government projects, she said, adding that visiting government projects is the main goal of MPs. In so doing, they also entertain public demands in relation to peace and security, good governance, and issues related to infrastructural development.
In addition, government officials, community representatives - youths, women, farmers, pastoralists, urban dwellers, and operators of small and micro enterprises can participate in the discussion to come up with a difference, she noted.
According to her, in addition to the discussions with lower government structure, discussions also take place at zonal and regional levels.
Abebe Godebo, an MP, on his part told The Ethiopian Herald that MP of each woreda (district) hold discussions with their electorate and executive bodies at all levels to understand how the government institutions are serving the public and in what way corrective measures can be taken.
He also said that the main targets of MPs are examining the progresses of government projects and bringing together peoples' requests to urge the concerning executive bodies to reexamine the way they did their jobs and the way forward, too.
According to him, in each region, peoples' requests that can be resolved by woreda (district), zonal, and regional level are sent to the concerning government structures of the region.
He also reiterated that MPs submit all the issues that are raised by the people from different parts of the country that cannot be resolved at woreda, zonal, and regional level to the House of Peoples' Representatives. Then, the house compiles those requests and sends them to the concerned federal government body.
In addition to overseeing the activities of executive bodies of all levels, MPs focus on creating public awareness about COVID-19 pandemic to help protect themselves from the virus this year, and mobilizing the public to participate in planting of seedlings better than what they did last years, he noted.