Sierra Leone’s parliamentarians to make best use of question time

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 3 August 2020:

The role of MPs in Sierra Leone’s parliament is about to be strengthened, should plans for the introduction of a ‘Question Time’ style procedure be accepted and formalised.

The idea of parliamentary Question Time is not new. In many countries including Britain, MPs are given the opportunity to put questions to the prime minister and his ministers on the behalf of their constituents.

In Sierra Leone, MPs can raise questions during scheduled legislative debates using Parliamentary Procedure Standing Order 23.

But all is about to change, following a two-day workshop, organised and supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for parliamentary officials in the Department of Legislative Services which ended last Wednesday, 29th July 2020, at the Hill Valley Hotel in Freetown

The workshop is in line with UNDP’s effort to help build the capacity of Sierra Leone’s Parliament,  and is aimed at “inculcating and strengthening the use and practice of Question Time as an effective tool to hold the executive to account,” according to a statement from the Department of Legislative Services.

Speaking about the workshop and the importance of Question Time, the Director of the Department of Legislative Services – Mr.  Karmoh K. Conteh recalled the Speaker of Parliament’s ruling on the use of Question Time instead of Standing Order 23 which he said is being used inappropriately by MPs.

He said that Question Time would provide constituents the opportunity to put questions to Ministers through their Members of Parliament.

He also said that following the workshop, a Guide will be produced for MPs to enhance Question Time as an effective tool in holding the executive to account in parliament.

Speaking on behalf of UNDP’s Country Representative, UNDP Technical Adviser to Parliament, Hon. Rosaline J. Smith registered UNDP’s continued support for the country’s Parliament; and spoke about administrative reforms geared towards the smooth running of the Parliament.

She said that the UK Parliament is effectively using question time to hold the executive to account.

Adding question time to Sierra Leone parliamentary proceedings would help ministers acquire greater insight into the affairs and working of departments and agencies under their control, she said.

She said there were only two occurrences of question time in the last Parliament, which were about Ebola and education. The workshop would enable MPs to frame and ask questions to ministers on matters of the state, she asserted.

4 Comments

  1. I think its good news, if the idea of question time is adopted. It will bring more accountability, and the electorate will get a bird’s eye view of how parliamentary democracy works. I will suggest they televise the question time sessions, so it brings our MPs closer to the people that they claim to represent. It is doable, you just have to cast your mind back on how the Big Brother, Big Sister television series captured the heart and minds of the Sierra Leonean Public. I wonder if the Sierra-leonean public will extend the same generosity to some of our corrupt politicians. For far too long we elect this people, on the things that they promised us but suffice to say never deliver.

    Once they get elected, they become like aliens from outer space. Suddenly we withness their transformation from humble backgrounds to supper stars from central casting. I wonder how it will work. Are we going to adopt the South African way of doing things, where their president as head of the executive branch is the one that takes questions from MPs, or the chief minister taking the questions on behalf of president Bio? On that point I don’t want us to import the thuggish behaviour from the South African parliament, which we witnessed now and again. I know some of our MPs are capable of the same deplorable acts that some of the thuggish elements of the EFF under Julius Mamlema are capable off. Maybe its something to do with the initials. “JM”.

    Yes its good MPs that are the sole representative of the people will have the opportunity to question ministers on various development projects for their constituent. The problem then becomes, we all know there is too much power concentrated in the hands of the president. His ministers are just there sounding out his thinking, and implementing his thoughts. I think the president should appear in front of MPs on a monthly bases to answer to MPs concerns. It will reduce tension in the country and people will feel they have been listened to. May God bless Sierra Leone.

  2. It never ends – another well-meaning initiative no doubt by the UNDP that vividly highlights and emphasizes how uncreative and unimaginative our leaders truly can be.Totally disgraceful is it not,that outsiders have to keep on coming and going to and from our profitless shores,routinely like paid professional nannies and welfare workers caring for the disadvantaged? Goodness gracious! Caretakers everywhere it seems tirelessly wiping our dripping noses like fragile helpless suckling infants that always need their soak,wet and sometimes completely drenched diapers changed over and over again – ad infinitum.

    Ask me not why our little bread and butter country or any sovereign nation will allow itself to be discredited and belittled like itsy-bitsy children that still don’t know what it means to solve the simplest problems in today’s ever progressive world,or why we still don’t understand the great honor and pride that comes with the ability to solve and measure up to challenges and admirably fix things thereby proving ourselves to meritorious and responsible people in the eyes of a world tightly in the grips of a ravaging pandemic.

    It is only a nation that can boast of having only third-rated defeated leaders,losers they are called,that strangely still don’t know the clear difference between their knees and elbows that will allow its leaders totally lacking in integrity to be willingly schooled and publicly humiliated in a needless two day workshop even a few brilliant class five students could have decisively organised and easily brought to a laudable successful completion all by themselves.(lol)A damn shame a ruthless heartless nation of prowling howling wolves by night,frightful also in broad daylight,that tramples on our peoples basic civil rights is now somehow weirdly cowardly acting as if they were harmless clueless lambs and rams longing and waiting anxiously for any shepherd that comes in the darkness of night,so that they could be tamed in complete disgrace and shame.(lol)

  3. “Adding question time to Sierra Leone parliamentary proceedings would help ministers acquire greater insight into the affairs and working of departments and agencies under their control.” That is a very good idea, now we can tell members who are interested and dedicated to the state of affairs.

  4. It’s vile that we always only act or react when outsiders are pulling the strings, be it the United Nations or some foreign government. We lack the ability to craft anything that is uniquely our own. Whatever is wrong with us I don’t know, but something is wrong somewhere.

    The article only talks about parliamentarians putting questions to ministers which have been forwarded to them by their constituents. Is this in addition to questions parliamentarians themselves may have? There is another ambiguity: Is the President, as head of the Executive, exempt from facing parliament directly?

    If indeed parliamentary question time gets off the ground it will help to make the Executive more cautious and accountable, and will gain the country international respectability. Incompetent members of the Executive will be exposed for all to see. They will also find out for the first time that we the voters and constituents are not stupid.

    My suggestion is that members of the Executive should be allowed to use the language in which they feel most comfortable when answering questions. This is a recognition of the fact that for most of us English is not our language and even educated people have trouble with it when it comes to verbal expression – there’s little time to think coherently as opposed to when one is writing.

Tell us about your views

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.