Connecting Citizens to Parliament – Penplusbytes, Civil Societies, Media, Citizens and other Stakeholders Issue Tamale Forum Communiqué
Having rolled out the Connecting citizens to Parliament project which aims at enhancing governance by deepening citizen’s participation through ICTs enabled platforms that establishes effective working relationships between Parliament’s Committee on Government Assurance (CGA), non-profit organisations and citizens in the monitoring and delivery of essential services;
Citizens, CSOs, the media and other stakeholders, having successfully participate in the 2nd Connecting Citizens to Parliament Forum held by Penplusbytes, with support from the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), at the conference hall of the University of Development Studies (UDS), hereby adopt and approve as “Citizens Input,” the following Communiqué on the effective monitoring of assurances and key developmental activities:
i. The importance and relevance of citizens inputs in national discourse.
ii. The need for effective monitoring of promises and assurance as means to effective implementation and delivery of such assurances as made before Parliament.
iii. The need enhance collaboration and relationship between the CGA, Parliament and the government at large towards tracking of assurances and promises made on the floor of Parliament of Ghana thereby supporting oversight role of the legislature.
ii. Close feedback loop by providing platforms that allow citizens and the CGA to exchange vital, on-the-ground information on the selected assurances and promises being monitored.
iii. Develop ICT tools and strategies to widen participation for citizens and CSOs in monitoring assurances
- That current citizen engagement process being used by Penplusbytes. However reiterates a need to involve the rural people; therefore stressing the importance of a continuous use of local radio stations and in Local languages.
- District Assembly Town hall meetings must include Members of Parliament (MPs) to give the assembly members more access and to boost knowledge and information sharing.
- On importance of making available, through the use of technology, coding means that allow for citizens to directly get in touch with members of parliament. Such coding will also help to easily segregate comments that come in.
- There is the opportunity to Involve UDS students through their semester community work.
- That Senior High School and Tertiary students should be educated on the roles, relevance of Parliamentarians
- There is a need to create avenues to foster greater partnership between citizens and duty bearers by Liaising with traditional leaders.
- The use of community radio to engage with citizens get MPS into these radio programs to give feedback
- The adoption of a communal durbar (including Seasonal community durbars) which brings together MPs, Chiefs, District Assembly members and citizens
Under Development, MPs and MMDAs, we agreed:
- MPs are at fault for miscommunicating their roles and duties to citizens who are left with a lasting impression that they (MPs) are in charge of development projects in the communities; a situation that needs correcting.
- MPs should be educated on the need to tell the truth to their constituents instead of committing to promises the delivery of which lies outside of their abilities.
- Situations where MPs and District authorities (DCEs/MCEs) battle for supremacy over the usage of common funds sometimes stifles development unduly.
- The need for massive education of citizens to know who is in charge of development projects and programmes in the districts
- That the selection of DCEs must come through the ballots (elections) in order to cede some power to citizens (electorates) in holding them to account.
- Bringing the MP closer to the people by setting up a constituency based office with regular visits and scheduled meetings with the people.
- Collaboration with UDS SRC to get more interactive with MPs.
- Use tertiary institutions/ teachers to help students know and understand the various responsibilities of MPs, Assemblies and other key governance actors in order to inform their communities of the proper channels of tracking work delivery.
- Penplusbytes should consistently hold forums with DCEs/MPs in attendance.
The following Recommendations are made:
- Apathy should be out of our system as citizen journalism has proven to be an effective tool in ensuring accountability in the delivery of development projects.
- Citizens’ role in development must not be underrated and their involvement should indeed be acknowledged.
- Citizens must uphold a supreme sense of responsibility as the youth must be encouraged to defend the good name of Ghana; knowing the development of their community/country is priority.
- Parliament must show more commitment in the Fight against corruption as that will lead on a path to the full fulfillment of projects to ensure quality service delivery
- Change starts from within. Individuals should be made to imbibe a culture of zero tolerance for corruption
- There is a need for a functioning system that does not acknowledge nepotism
- We must as a country strike a fair and firm balance between partisan politics, political ideologies and development for the greater good of the people
ADOPTED THIS 9TH DAY OF SEPTEMBER, 2015, UDS CONFERENCE HALL, TAMALE