A political science lecturer at the University of Ghana has criticized what he says is the excessive heckling by parliamentarians during state of the nation addresses by a sitting president.
While heckling is allowed in politics around the world and lightens the atmosphere for any presentation, Prof Ransford Gyampo said it must not be abused.
“…It must not be done in a manner that denies the citizenry the opportunity to also listen to what the president says,” he said.
His remarks come shortly after the president’s second state of the nation address to Parliament, Thursday.
Shortly after being ushered into the chamber, the minority members of the house began a crusade of heckling.
They started by singing a portion of the national anthem- “And help us to resist oppressor’s rule,” and followed up with excessive heckling all through his presentation.
The heckling by the Minority was not the first. John Mahama as president suffered some heckling from the then minority NPP and so did John Kufuor.
Prof Gyampo says Ghanaians have a right to listen to the president even if the minority is not interested.
Parliamentary Supremacy cannot be placed over and above the popular sovereignty of constituents who select parliamentarians.
In modern-day democratic practice, not only MPs are expected to be briefed by the President periodically. The ordinary people are also interested in watching and listening to what the President reports as being the State of the Nation.
Many Ghanaians in contemporary times are always glued to their radios, televisions and other online media portals or outlets to listen or watch the President as he briefs the nation.
Heckling is allowed all over the world in parliamentary proceedings. It can be done to lighten the place for instance when there is tension. It must however not be done in a manner that denies the citizenry the opportunity to also listen to what the President says.
If for some reasons, some are not interested in listening, others outside who want to listen to be able to subject whatever they hear to strict proofs, must not be disadvantaged by the kind of heckling that does not allow us to hear the President loud and clear.
Examples in other countries that do not have a sound democratic culture, should not be our yardstick. The fact that others fight and throw chairs doesn't mean we must overly heckle in a manner that obstructs the hearing of the ordinary citizens outside parliament who are actually the repository of the sovereign power exercised by those elected.
I am by this short write-up seeking to respectfully draw the attention of our MPs to the fact that some of us, the ordinary people are also interested in listening to what is reported by the President as the State of the Nation. Excessive heckling sometimes disturb our hearing and undermine the opportunity given us in contemporary times to receive first-hand information from the President.
PAV Ansah Street