The Director of the Institute of Local Government Studies, Dr Nicholas Awotwi, has backed the call for the election of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs), indicating that the amendment of Article 53 ( 3) of the Constitution will be a game changer for Ghana’s democracy.
He said Ghana would chart a new path in deepening its democratic credentials and at the same time, speed its development and progress at the local level once the needed amendment was done to allow for the election of MMDCEs.
Addressing participants in a roundtable discussion on the topic “multi-party decentralised local governance system in Ghana: what would it look like?,” Dr Awotwi said there would be a new path of accountability at the local level once the election of MMMDCEs began.
“Ghana will begin to see a new phase of development and accountability where our leaders elected at the local level cannot take us for a ride,” he said.
The event was organised by the Institute of Democratic Governance (IDEG) as part of its efforts to sensitise the public regarding the upcoming national referendum.
Ghana will on December 17, this year, head to the polls to vote at a referendum to amend Article 55 (3) of the Constitution to allow for the election of MMDCEs.
Article 55 (3) of the 1992 Constitution, which is an entrenched provision, states that “Subject to the provisions of this Article, a political party is free to participate in shaping the political will of the people, to disseminate information on political ideas, social and economic programmes of a national character; and sponsor candidates for election to any public office other than the district assemblies or lower local government units”.
On the same day of the referendum, there will be the election of members of the district assemblies and unit committees.
Dr Awotwi said electing MMDCEs had the potential to advance development projects at the community level and at the same time, deepen Ghana’s democratic credentials.
He said once the electorate voted ‘Yes’ at the referendum for the election of MMDCES, the government would be in the position to institutionalise its various development programmes, particularly the One district ,One factory.
Additionally, Dr Awotwi said social protection programmes such as Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) would become effective and spread to every part of the country.
He also mentioned that there would be a competition to attract investment in all districts because MMDCEs would have to justify their election by the people.
Support the MMDCES
A senior lecturer at the school of Public Service and Governance of the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), Dr Augustina Akonnor, said the election of MMDCEs would promote participatory democracy by bringing governance closer to the people.
She said service delivery at the local level would also improve, adding that people’s needs would be responded to quickly.
Dr Akonnor said a recent research revealed that more than 60 per cent of people believed that the election of MMDCEs would transform Ghana’s democracy and help boost development.
She said the current system where the government appointed MMDCEs “defeats the fundamental principles of democracy” and urged all to throw their weight behind the ‘Yes’ vote.
For his part, the Executive Director of IDEG, Dr Emmanuel Akwetey, said IDEG was determined to help educate the public to vote ‘Yes’ in the December 17 referendum. – GraphicOnline