The Coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSO) for Local Government Reforms, Ghana, is advocating the elections of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) to spur national development.
According to it, the debate on whether to vote for MMDCEs along partisan or non-partisan lines was immaterial to halt the entire election process.
“We have bipartisan consensus on this matter and an overwhelming public endorsement to elect MMDCEs. The partisan bit of it was an end-note proposal which was elevated to the fore and not necessary that until it is resolved, we shelve the entire process,” Vice President of IMANI Ghana, Kofi Bentil, said.
Speaking at an outdooring of the Coalition in Accra yesterday, he challenged Parliament to consider amending Article 243 (1) of the Constitution which was not entrenched to allow citizens to elect their MMDCEs.
“Parliament must do what does not require a referendum which is the substantive issue we all agree on and that can be done today or tomorrow. Once we hold the elections and people are elected into office by their constituents we can then later on, if we so want, include the part of making the elections partisan,” he said.
This, Mr Bentil, a member of the steering committee of the Coalition, argued, would ensure more responsive governance at the local level and put an end to the usual chaos and incompetencies surrounding the appointment of MMDCEs.
The Director of Advocacy and Policy Engagement at the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD) Ghana, DrKojo Pumpuni Asante, delivering the Coalition’s maiden statement said given the varied political interest on the matter, the Alliance was going to embark on a nationwide “evidence-driven” advocacy to ensure the re-introduction and passage of appropriate local governance reforms.
“We will be undertaking several interventions to reset the agenda for the election of MMDCEs and advocate for comprehensive local government reforms,” he stated.
Dr Asante indicated that next year would mark 34 years since Ghana introduced the local government system and 30 years since the 1992 Constitution was promulgated and was high time the local level structure was strengthened to better serve the interest of the ‘ordinary’ Ghanaian.
He said aside from pushing for the election of MMDCEs, the Coalition would also focus attention on issues of gender disparities at the local level, financial inflows and other developmental arrangements within the local level structure.
The Coalition consists of about 30 CSOs with interest in democracy and governance issues as well as some individuals with diverse expertise.
The government in December 2019 withdrew a bill laid in Parliament to amend articles 55(3), an entrenched provision in the 1992 constitution and 243(1) to allow for the election of MMDCEs in the country.
The President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, cited the lack of broad national consensus on the matter, as reason for the withdrawal of the bills.
Had it been approved, the bills, would have allowed political parties to sponsor candidates in local level elections, thereby making the process more competitive to hold duty bearers more accountable and take away the powers of the President to appoint MMDCEs.
BY ABIGAIL ANNOH