The Institute of Local Government Studies (ILGS) has expressed regret over the suspension of the election of Metropolitan Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) and the December 17, 2019 referendum which it describe as a major setback to deepen democracy at the local level.
It said the process was a good opportunity to deepen democracy and good governance which the scheduled election and referendum would have also deepened decentralised level of governance.
“For us, it was a major setback because the referendum and amendment of Article 55(3) and Article 243(1) was going to be a game changer in the centre of local government relations,” the Executive Director of the Institute, Dr Nicholas Awortwi bemoaned.
However, he said the ‘no’ vote campaign ended up evoking fear among the citizenry hence the National Democratic Congress (NDC) plan not to allow MMDCEs to be elected on partisan lines.
“The ‘no’ campaign to some extent put fear in people, how do you say by bringing party politics at local level, vigilantism will increase in the country? The no campaigners peddled falsehood in some of their communications, this devolution we were going to practice, the nation has never had the opportunity to practice, was to change local governance system in three key areas, promote local development, resources, power and functions but unfortunately, we backed status quo.
“Anybody who is not happy with local development, provision of services at local level and lack of accountability and transparency at district and local governance should be disappointed it has happened this way,” Dr Awortwi lamented.
President Nana Akufo-Addo in a televised address called for the withdrawal of the two bills after directed cancellation of December 17, 2019 referendum to amend Article 55(3) which was to allow political parties to file candidates for district level elections and was accordingly withdrawn following approval of Parliament.
The appointment of MMDCEs is done by the president with prior approval of not less than two-thirds majority of members of assembly present and voting at meeting, the scheduled electoral processes was to change the system but hit with a blow when NDC as well as other stakeholders advocated for a ‘no’ vote in the referendum and stated that it was worried amendment to Article 55 (3) will open district assemblies and unit committees to needless NDC-New Patriotic Party (NPP) polarisation.” -citinewsroom.com