Clerks to Parliaments across Africa asked to remain politically impartial

Mr Emmanuel Anyimadu, the Clerk to Ghana’s Parliament, has urged his colleagues in Africa to contribute towards the strengthening of parliamentary democracy by being politically neutral in the discharge of their duties.

He said: “As Clerks, our acts of commission and omission impact directly and greatly on strengthening parliamentary democracy. There is no way we can achieve our vision of developing strong bureaucracies for our parliaments if the political impartiality of the Clerk is compromised.”

Mr Anyimadu was welcoming delegates to the first Africa Regional Conference of the Society of Clerks-at-the Table, a body attached to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.

The delegates, from countries such as South Africa, Namibia, Ghana, Kenya Lesotho and The Gambia, are made up of Clerks involved in the provision of legislative and administrative services to parliaments in the region.

They are attending a five-day meeting, which is under the theme, “The Role of the Clerks-at-the Table in Strengthening Parliamentary Democracy in the 21 Century.”

Mr Anyimadu noted that parliament is a major condition for good governance because the institution provides avenues for representation by bringing to the fore the grievances and needs of the people.

“As Clerks, we owe it a duty to contribute to the development of this important governance institution because by our vocation we have what it takes to assist the institution in its role of ensuring good governance”

“Let us therefore use the platform provided by this conference to sharpen our competencies and deepen our experiences by comparing notes on challenges that confront us in our various jurisdictions and how to address them….We cannot afford to disappoint our Parliaments, and for that matter our people if we go back un-renewed,” he told his colleagues.

Dr William Shija, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, urged the Clerks to play the role of advisors, teachers and leaders in legislative business.

He also urged developments partners to put parliament at the centre of development instead of focusing on the Executive branch of government.
Justice Joyce Bamford-Addo, Speaker of Ghana’s Parliament, who opened the conference, said the words “Parliament” and “democracy” have appeared and disappeared in the same manner as democratic governments have come and gone.

She said in the last few years, this bleak picture has considerably changed as majority of governments currently in power are elected through the processes of multi-party democracy.

The Speaker urged politicians, bureaucrats, farmers and all to contribute to the sustenance of parliamentary democracy in Africa.

By Eunice Menka

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