Absentee MPs: Minority serving their parochial interest – Ras Mubarak

The former MP for Kumbungu, Ras Mubarak has lashed out at members of his opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) party in Parliament for what he describes as attempt to serve their parochial interest.

His comment comes after the Minority filed a motion to revoke the Speaker’s decision to refer three New Patriotic Party (NPP) MPs to the privileges committee over absenteeism.

Talking to Kwaku Nhyira-Addo on The Asaase Breakfast Show on Wednesday (6 April), Mubarak said the Minority is out of touch with reality.

“What I am unhappy about is the position taken by the Minority leadership, which seems to be crying more than the bereaved and going on a frolic of their own.

“My sources within the Minority indicate that several of them are unhappy about the steps that the leadership has taken. Here is a matter that has been referred to the privileges committee, the members of the privileges committee are expected to do a good job,” he said.

“And then you have a Minority leadership that is completely out of touch of reality, challenging the decision by the Speaker on grounds that are very weak, and I find it very strange whose interest the Minority is serving. If they are serving their personal interest they should let the public know,” Mubarak said.

The three truant MPs

The MPs are Sara Adwoa Safo, MP for Dome/Kwabenya, Henry Quartey, MP for Ayawaso Central and Kennedy Agyapong, MP for Assin Central.

The privileges committee is expected to submit its report to the House in two weeks’ time after the trio were cited for absenting themselves for more than 15 days.

“The evidence provided me by the table office indicates that three honourable members have so far absented themselves in this meeting for more than 15 sitting days without permission as recorded in the votes and proceedings,” the Speaker Bagbin said.

“As is my understanding of the provisions of article 97 (1C) and order 16 (1) of the standing orders of Parliament and the decision of the Court of Appeal in the case of Prof Stephen Kweku Asare and the Attorney General and three others, I hereby refer the said honourable members to the committee of privileges for consideration and report to the House.”

Opposition disagrees

Meanwhile, the Minority has vehemently opposed the directive. The reservations by the Minority resulted in a standoff between the Speaker and the Minority chief whip Muntaka Mubarak.

The Minority insists that it does not lie in the Speaker’s remit to initiate the referral without any request from a Member of Parliament as contained in the standing orders.

“Mr Speaker, with the greatest of respect, we agree you’ve made a statement. But if we allow Speakers to take petitions from outsiders to refer members of parliament to privileges, colleagues will be doing ourselves the greatest disservice. Because we will one day get a dictator Speaker who’ll soon take statements from outsiders and begin to penalise individual members of parliament.

“…It is on this reason that I call all of us [parliamentarians] to resist the attempt by Mr Speaker to refer our colleagues to the privileges and if there’s justification, let us get one of us as Member of Parliament who is convinced that our colleagues need to go to privileges to do that and not allow Speaker to do this,” he said.

Asaase radio