Forum on election of MMDCEs ends in Sunyani
The sixth in the series of regional consultative workshops on the proposed election of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) organized by the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development has taken place in Sunyani.
Representatives of various political parties, Municipal and District Chief Executives, Members of Parliament, Co-ordinating Directors, Traditional leaders and the media as well as a cross-section of Civil Society Organizations deliberated on the proposal, which would replace the current arrangement where MMDCEs are nominated by the President and approved by their Assemblies.
The aim of the programme was to provide information as well as sensitize stakeholders on the functions and roles of the MMDCEs, the importance of electing them on partisan basis and what would be expected of all stakeholders in the up-coming referendum to give the process a legal backing.
It would be re-called that ahead of the 2016 elections, President Akufo-Addo promised to ensure the election of MMDCEs when given the nod.
Upon assumption of Office last year, President Akufo-Addo pointed out to the current MMDCEs in July 2017 that they would be the last to be appointed and subsequently approved by their respective Assemblies.
Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Hajia Alima Mahama, addressing the workshop, said her ministry had developed a road-map designed in phases to be implemented to guide the process of realising the President’s vision, which started last year and is expected to end in 2021.
“It is worth stressing that the election of political leaders at the local government level is considered an international best practice adopted by many countries. It is aimed at deepening local democracy through popular participation in governance”, she observed.
She mentioned Uganda, Kenya, Namibia, South Africa and The Gambia as some African countries where MMDCEs are elected, adding that several other countries around the world are implementing this arrangement.
Hajia Alima Mahama said the election of MMDCEs would further entrench Ghana’s democratic credentials as it would make MMDCEs more responsive and directly accountable to the people and guarantee security of tenure of the MMDCEs.
For his part, a Deputy Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, O.B Amoah, stated that the entire process leading to the election of MMDCEs had been categorized into three phases namely; Pre-referendum, Referendum and Post-referendum activities.
He said Article 55(3) of the 1992 Constitution would have to be amended through a referendum to pave the way for political parties to participate in the election of MMDCEs.
In addition to that, he said, some other laws and Acts of Parliament would have to be amended to provide a comprehensive legal basis for the intended changes to the local governance process.
Mr. OB Amoah said 40% turn-out would be required during the referendum while 75% of the voters would have to vote YES to enable the MMDCEs to be elected on partisan basis and called on the various stakeholders to join in educating the public on the process.
Governance expert, Dr Eric Oduro Osae and Gabriel Daare of the Centre for Local Governance Advocacy took turns to make presentations on the issue.
Welcoming the participants earlier, the Brong Ahafo Regional Minister, Kwaku Asomah-Cheremeh said the vision of President Akufo-Addo was to enhance local governance and decentralization by seeing to the election of MMDCEs, “which is emphatically stipulated in the 2016 Manifesto of the New Patriotic Party…”
He was happy about the high level of co-operation and commitment shown so far by most Ghanaians on the issue and hoped that the election of MMDCEs would surely become a reality.
During the Open Forum, participants overwhelmingly endorsed the proposal, saying, it would go a long way to deepen the country’s democracy, especially at the grassroots.