General News of Wednesday, 15 March 2017
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu has objected to the idea that Members of Parliament (MPs) be allowed to speak local dialects during Parliamentary proceedings.
The Majority leader said confusion will erupt in Parliament if MPs are allowed to speak their own local dialects such as Twi, Nzema, Wassa, Kusaase, fante, Dagaati, Ga, Bono etc which are alien to the ears of other MPs.
This he called for a debate as to whether or not the Ghanaian local dialects should be used by MPs when making submissions on the floor of Parliament.
He suggested that the local languages be communicated in various homes to train children in order for them to be abreast with Ghana’s culture and history.
Parliament has come under heavy criticisms as some MPs who are supposed to make laws for the country cannot express themselves fluently in the official language of the country.
According to him, though parliamentary rules allow MPs who are not fluent in the English language to make submissions in their local dialects the house lacks the devices for proper interpretation.
The MP for Suame constituency said until the Constitution is reviewed, Ghanaians who have issues with MPs who are not fluent in the English language would have to deal with the consequences.
Speaking on Abusua FM’s Abusua Nkommo hosted by Kwame Adinkra, he said MPs cannot completely ignore the use of English language in their discourses saying it has brought a sense of belongingness among them and Ghanaians as a whole.
The Majority Leader observed that few MPs understand and speak more than one local language saying Ghana does not have the capacity to employ hundreds of interpreters hence resort to the English language.
He said some people would agitate that they have been side-lined if the country attempts to use one local language in Parliament.
Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu stated that people will have no basis to insult Constitution drafters and mock MPs who cannot speak good English.
‘It will be difficult to translate laws, conventions, protocols and treaties in our local dialects when rectifying. Some of the words cannot be interpreted in our local languages. The independence Constitution as well as the Republic Constitution state that one has to be proficient in English Language before going to Parliament. But the referendum on the 1992 Constitution amended it and allowed people to contest for parliamentary positions even if they can’t fluently speak the English language. So there is no point mocking MPs who cannot speak good English after amending the constitution. I don’t subscribe to the use of local language in Parliament, but we can call for a debate,’ he explained.
He suggested the Constitution be amended to allow MPs express themselves in their local dialects in the house with employment of interpreters and purchasing of machines.