Parliament is a representative institution, which reflects dictum – “government of the people, by the people for the people”. It is the hub of democratic governance. It has a responsibility to foster public awareness of the basic tenets of democracy. The Member, as an elected representative of his constituents, is an agent for the realisation of the aspirations of his people and the nation at large.
The Member finds himself in a web of onerous duties:
- first to the nation;
- second to his constituents; and
- third to his Party.
Duties to the Nation
In his duties to the nation, the Member exercises the legislative power of the State in accordance with the Constitution. This is done through the introduction and passage of Bills. He also participates in all deliberations on matters of national and international importance.
Parliament exercises constitutional authority over the use of public funds and the operations of Ministries, Departments and Agencies through inquiries and investigations. It is the duty of a Member to assist the House to execute this mandate through Committees that enable Members to examine in greater detail, legislative and fiscal proposals from the Executive and its agencies. Effective participation in Committee deliberations enables Members to specialize in particular subject areas and this enhances Parliament’s exercise of oversight responsibility of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
Mechanisms, such as Statements and Question Time, present Members with the opportunity to draw attention to issues of public or national importance. These mechanisms also serve as a means of obtaining assurance from Ministers on actions being taken on the issues raised.
Duties to constituents
A Member of Parliament is a representative of all his constituents regardless of their party affiliations. The Member must find time to interact with his constituents at regular intervals.
As a non-voting ex-officio Member of the District Assembly, he is required to monitor programmes and projects that the Assembly initiates in his constituency.
It is the duty of a Member to explain to his constituents the laws passed by Parliament and policies being pursued by the Government. In this regard, a Member is enjoined to advocate both in Parliament and the District Assembly the concerns of his constituents.
With the support of the District Assemblies’ Common Fund and other funding, a Member may intervene directly in solving some of the developmental problems of his constituency.
Duties to the Party
A Member owes allegiance to the political party to which he belongs. His general performance must reflect the trust reposed in him by his party. While the Majority Group endeavours to implement its manifesto, the Minority Group is expected to offer constructive alternative programmes. A Member’s loyalty to his party may be expressed in the following ways: mobilising support for his party’s policies through intelligent contributions to debates both in the House and at Committees; offering constructive criticism to the party’s policies as and when appropriate; enhancing the party’s image at both national and constituency levels.