‘Local Government system cause of winner-takes-all’

A Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG), Mr. Kwesi Jonah, has said Ghana’s local governance structure is the reason for the winner-takes-all syndrome the country is practising, especially at the local level.

Mr. Jonah noted that the local governance structure, as stipulated under Article 240 of the constitution, should be blamed for the “restrictive and exclusionary” type of governance the country was practising.

Speaking at a day’s forum on the theme, ‘Strengthening democratic development through multi-party based local government; South Africa, Kenya and Ghana in focus,” the political scientist said that aspects of the constitution had outlived its usefulness and not meant for a democratic society.

“It has become patently clear that the system as it exists now was carefully crafted to serve the purpose of the military regime that brought it into existence,” he said, adding that under the existing system, “accountability mechanisms are weak, restrictive and exclusionary politics have all been entrenched.”

He continued: “The framers of the constitution picked a local government system designed for a military regime and incorporated it wholesale into a multiparty democratic political system without change or modification.

“What we have as a nation therefore is a political superstructure which is multiparty-democratic in character superimposed on a non-party substructure in which elements of democracy such as accountability, participation and inclusiveness are plainly missing or weak.”

Under the current system, the President appoints the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) and appoints a 30 per cent of assembly members, a situation Mr. Jonah said renders the citizens unengaged in the governance process.

This system, he stressed, weakens accountability to the people because the MMDCEs have come to believe that they were primarily accountable to the President and not the people.

To this end Dr. Kwesi Jonah said it was important that the work of the Constitutional Review Commission and its Implementation Committee were taken on board and ensure elections at the local level were allowed to be political.

He said if this was done, Ghana’s democratic credentials would be deepened to guarantee higher accountability and inclusiveness in governance.

The South African representative at the forum, Dr. Matlotleng Matlou, Executive Director, Exselsior Afrika Consulting, said allowing for elections at the local level was yielding results in his country.

To buttress his point, Mr. Matlou cited the recent election in South Africa where the incumbent Africa National Congress (ANC) lost seats in black dominated areas, which have always voted for the ANC to the opposition Democratic Alliance because of non performance.

Mr. Donald Mogeni, a Public Policy Analyst and Social Accountability Advisor at World Vision, on his part said service delivery was getting closer to the people after they were allowed to elect their own leaders at the local level.

The Executive Director of the IDEG, Dr. Emmanuel Oblitey Akwetey, on his part said local government reforms were crucial to give a choice to the citizens in choosing their MMDCEs.

By Julius Yao Petetsi                                                                           


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