Parliament has clarified its #LetsTalkMore campaign is not aimed at resurrecting the suspended new 450-seater capacity chamber. The Public Affairs Directorate is embarking on the campaign to engage the public more on the activities of the legislative arm of government.
Coming on the back of halting of the new chamber project by the Parliamentary Service after public outrage, many have interpreted the campaign as an attempt to resurrect the project. Social media, where a massive campaign against the new chamber expected to cost not more than $200 million was mounted is once again awash with questions as to whether the project has really been abandoned in the wake of this latest campaign.
However, speaking to Starr News Acting Director of Public Affairs Kate Addo said the new campaign has nothing to do with the construction of a new chamber.
“#LetsTalkMore campaign is not specific to any one issue in parliament. What it is is that parliament as I have been saying for the past few days is the house of representation, it belongs to the people. It is our duty to engage with the people. It is also the duty of people to engage with us so that we will understand each other and be on the same page. The campaign is generally to get people to engage with parliament and in the process use language that’s temperate that will yield to the benefit of all of us citizens and the country as a whole,” Madam Kate said.
Parliament came under a storm of fire from individuals and civil society organizations after the Parliamentary Service Board received the architectural model for the new chamber from renowned Ghanaian architect David Frank Adjaye, the same designer of the National Cathedral.
The 450-seater chamber was to come with a chapel, mosque, restaurant, and a museum. The current chamber houses 275 seats for MPs.
Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) and pressure group OccupyGhana condemned the idea, describing it as a “misplaced priority.”
The CDD said Parliament as it stands now is “relatively well resourced.”
On Friday, three members of the Economic Fighters League were arrested for protesting against the new 450-seat chamber. The leader of the group and his accomplices were granted GHC2, 000 bail with one surety.
The League led by its leader Ernesto Yeboah was protesting in the public gallery during proceedings.
OccupyGhana, described the project “inconsiderate” looking at the level of hardship in the country.
“The very fact that in light of all the problems Ghana faces, our parliamentarians think a new chamber is of utmost importance shows a significant disconnection from a lot of the people they are supposed to represent.
“We cannot believe that Parliament and its leadership would even contemplate something so inconsiderate at a time when so many Ghanaians still struggle in these difficult and trying times. Even sadder is the fact that it eats away at the confidence people have in the democratic process,” the group said.
Organizers of social media campaign #DropThatChamber who had earlier threaten to embark on a demonstration against the project on July 13 have since suspended the intended protest.
The organisers of the march, The 2 Million March, said in a statement the march had been halted because of Parliament’s decision to suspend the $200 million new Parliamentary enclave project.
“We welcome the suspension with caution and remain vigilant and steadfast in our commitment to demand accountability from our government and leaders. Should Parliament make any attempt to implement this project in the future, at a time citizens deem inappropriate, we shall once again, come together and make a stand against it.” the statement said.
Kate Addo insists the project has been taken off the agenda of parliament as announced in a statement following a meeting by the Parliamentary Service Board.