The Kwesimintsim MP is hopeful Parliament will see a lot more cooperation and consensus among members than the chaos the year before.
Dr Prince Hamid Armah said there has to be more “contestation of ideas and cross-fertilisation of issues” rather than the show of physical power.
Speaking in an interview shortly after a Parliamentary sitting, he called for dialogue that follows a somewhat chaotic era of Parliamentary business.
He wants debates instead of where physical power and strength of the arm had taken precedence over the power of wits and oratory.
After a closely fought December 2020 elections, which produced a hung Parliament, peace and harmony have become a rare commodity in the House.
The election of the current Speaker Alban Bagbin on January 7, 2020, was not without violence and controversy.
A New Patriotic Party MP, Majority Carlos Ahinkora, snatched ballot papers during counting whilst those in the Minority kicked ballot boxes to have their preferred Speaker’s elected.
In the end, the Minority won, and Alban Bagbin was elected Speaker. But unfortunately, that did not stop the violence.
The MPs ended the Parliamentary business in 2021, the same way they began it- violence.
In discussing the budget and approval of the controversial e-levy, the House was turned into a battlefield with the MPs exchanging fisticuffs at some point. No decision was taken on the approval of the levy before Parliament went on recess.
This week, the MPs have returned to work with a pending e-levy controversy to solve, hopefully in an atmosphere of peace.
Responding to the attitude of the Minority in Parliament, Dr Parince Armah, who is also the Deputy Chair of the Education Committee in Parliament, said the attitude of the Minority was to “frustrate government business.”
“During the inauguration, I said the composition was a tool for cohesion or a mechanism frustrate the government business. But, unfortunately, it does appear that last year we could not achieve cohesion… Essentially, it was several issues of disagreement.
“I sincerely think the NDC frustrated government business last year. They were emboldened by the numbers they have in the House, and they think they can use the numbers to frustrate and stampede government. That’s my personal belief,” he said.
He added, “all through the processes, they have demonstrated their true intention.”
According to him, there has been widespread consultation on this e-levy, adding at every point in the budget process of 2021, which has since been approved, the e-levy has always been part of it.
He did not understand why the Minority, having debated and approved the budget which had policy intention to widen the tax net, would now turn around to object to the vehicle used to deliver the policy intention.
“You cannot approbate and reprobate. You cannot seek to disapprove what you have approved. Clearly, it is agenda to satisfy the emotions of their supporters on the ground and to frustrate government business,” he stated.
Dr Prince Armah believes the numbers in the House is rather an opportunity to build consensus.