The Speaker of the Parliament of Ghana, Rt. Hon. Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, has reiterated his personal commitment and the Commitment of the Parliament of Ghana to the Principles of Open Parliament which encourages constant engagement of the institution of Parliament with Civil Society organizations and the public at large.
The Speaker made this known in a remark as he made an unannounced appearance at the virtual launch of the Legislative Engagement and Advocacy Guide titled, “Getting Involved”, put together by the Parliamentary Network Africa (PNAfrica) with funding support from the French Embassy in Ghana.
The Legislative Engagement and Advocacy Guide which was virtually launched by the Board Chairman of the Parliamentary Network Africa (PNAfrica), Dr. Franklin Oduro on Wednesday, October 11, 2023, is a culmination of years of dedicated civil society advocacy and firsthand experiences in engaging with the Parliament of Ghana.
It brings to light the practical wisdom gained from countless dialogues, negotiations, and collaborations aimed at driving positive societal change through legislative avenues. It also delves deeper into the heart of advocacy, unveiling strategies that transcend mere rhetoric to forge meaningful connections between citizens and their elected representatives.
Rt. Hon. Speaker’s Remarks
As the head of the Institution of Ghana’s Parliament, the Rt. Hon. Speaker Bagbin lauded the initiative of the Parliamentary Monitoring Organization and indicated that a Citizens Bureau has been created as part of the structures in Ghana’s Parliament to specifically enhance the collaboration between the institution and CSOs as a sign of commitment to the principles of Parliamentary Openness under the broad terms of the Open Government Partnership framework.
“I once again want to reiterate Parliament’s commitment to fulfill all its obligations under the Open Government Partnership. Ghana’s Parliament is working in partnership with the British Parliament to produce an Open Parliament Action Plan which will work through the Bureau in whatever we do,” he said.
As a further sign of commitment, he openly invited CSOs and the general public to participate in the work of Parliament since the institution is going a step further to ensure that all Committee sittings are open to the public after the resumption of sittings later in the month of October.
“In addition, when the Legislature reconvenes at the end of this month, I will officially inaugurate the Open Government Partnership Caucus in Parliament. And I believe that this will open all the Committee sittings to the media and to the general public.”
In her opening remarks at the launch, the Ghana Country Programme Officer for PNAfrica, Joana Anane indicated the guide, is not only a handbook for the technically inclined but a beacon for all individuals and groups eager to make their voices heard within the hallowed halls of the Ghanaian Parliament.
“At its core, this guide is a treasure trove of knowledge, unraveling the intricate technicalities involved in parliamentary engagement. It offers strategic methodologies to enhance public participation in the essential work carried out within the parliament. Moreover, it provides profound insights into the functioning of the Parliament of Ghana, empowering individuals with the means to effectively engage parliamentarians and drive the changes needed to uplift our society,” she observed.
Goodwill messages from CSOs
In a goodwill message on behalf of CSOs, the Executive Secretary of the Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition, Madam Beauty Emefa Nartey, was full of praise for PNAfrica for finding the need to put this important document together to bridge the knowledge gap in public participation in the workings of Parliament.
She expressed the concern that the appreciation and understanding of how Parliament works has remained the preserve of a few and commended the team highly for the initiative.
“On behalf of my fellow CSOs, I wish to commend the PNAfrica team for making this dream a reality. Congratulations PNAfrica for daring to make history with this simplified practical guide to promote effective Parliamentary advocacy.
“This manual, I am very convinced, will help in our demand for responsive and accountable governance of our elected representatives. I also believe that citizens can no longer feign ignorance about the skill, expertise, and requisite knowledge required in Parliamentary advocacy and demand for accountability.”
Overview of Advocacy Guide
A senior programme officer at PNAfrica, Ben Opoku Aryeh in the presentation of an overview of the guide, touched on its various parts which are divided into six sections including Understanding how Parliament works; Legislative engagement; Open Parliament; 10 Practical lessons from CSO activists on how to advocate for change in policy or law-making; Engaging Parliament – shared experiences from Parliamentary development experts and civil society leaders; and Legislative Communication.
He indicated that the link for a free copy of the Legislative and Advocacy was available on the organization’s website at https://parliamentafrica.com/getting-involved-a-legislative-engagement-and-advocacy-guide-2/
Parliamentary Network Africa (PNAfrica) is a civil society organization with a Vision of Promoting Open Parliaments across Africa and a Mission of working with Parliamentary Institutions and citizens, including CSOs and the media, to promote transparency, accountability, civic participation, inclusion, and responsiveness in the works of African parliaments.
It has evolved from a Parliamentary Newspaper project in 2015 to becoming a globally reputable convener and connector of parliamentary monitoring organizations (PMOs), which has implemented projects within its four thematic areas of operations namely – Parliamentary Institutions Strengthening and Support; Media and Access to Information; Convening PMOs for Knowledge Management; and Bringing Parliaments Closer to Citizens around the themes of accountability, livelihoods and inclusion.
The organization publishes the Africa Open Parliament Index which ranks national Parliaments on the dimensions of openness once every two years and serves as Secretariat to the Africa PMO Network (APMON) – a continental coalition of civil society organizations that monitor and engage with their national and regional parliaments; and also coordinate the Africa Parliamentary Press Network (APPN) which brings together journalists reporting from over 25 African national/subnational parliaments to facilitate peer learning and exchanges.
Source: Clement Akoloh – Communications Officer
Parliamentary Network Africa (PNAfrica)