MLGRD defends govt’s choice of ‘Yes Vote’ in upcoming referendum

The Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD) has defended government’s choice of a ‘Yes Vote’ in the upcoming referendum, arguing that it is the best means of promoting accountability in the country.

According to the Sector Minister, Hajia Alima Mahama, in a statement signed and issued in Accra on Monday, the presence of an opposition at the sub-national level was necessary to hold elected Chief Executives of the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs).

“The accountability structures we have at the sub-national level can better hold them in check, if they are partisan because we will have some opposition people in there to prevent elected officials from having their way.

“At the moment, it is virtually a one party assembly dominated by the ruling party, so it makes checks and balances as well as accountability a bit difficult. If elected on multi partisan basis, accountability will improve,” it added.

The statement was in response to concerns by the Chamber for Local Governance (ChLoG) on the upcoming referendum, which seeks the consent of Ghanaians on whether or not political parties could participate in local government elections.

It said a ‘Yes Vote’ would allow opposition and smaller political parties to have a stake in local governance, adding that the opposition party members at the local government level would put a better check on the ruling government.

The statement indicated that, although local people could choose their leaders even if multi partisan system was not introduced, a ‘Yes Vote’ would ensure consistency between local and national level governance leaders were elected on the same multi-party lines.

A partisan basis would secure some level of citizens participation in local governance, stating that non-partisan local government election, had not seen more that 45 per cent turnout, whereas turnout for national level partisan election has hit close to 80 per cent in recent times.

Currently, amendment to Article 243(1) was underway with the amendment bill going through all the required processes and only required a vote by Members of Parliament (MPs) for approval.

The statement said development plan of the various MMDAs would be aligned with the national development plan and rejected concerns that opposition elected MMDCEs would not support the national government in the implementation of the country’s overall development agenda.

As key partners in local level development, it said chiefs were critical to the success of the local governance structure, adding that guidelines to regulate the relationship between MMDAs and chiefs had been developed and was being reviewed to properly create the appropriate space for traditional authorities in local governance without undermining their non-partisan status.

BY TIMES REPORTER

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