The Institute of Democratic Governance (IDEG) has called on the citizenry to vote ‘yes’ in the upcoming referendum on December 17, for the proposed amendment of Article 55 (3) of the 1992 Constitution which will make local government elections partisan.
The referendum has become necessary because Article 55 is an entrenched provision in the Constitution, some aspects of the political system need reforms to give room to the citizenry to elect their Metropolitan Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs).
Prior to 2016, majority of political parties proposed working on the weaknesses in local government system to ensure election of MMDCES.
Dr Kwesi Jonah, a Senior Research Fellow of IDEG, said the election of MMDCEs would mark a major development in democratic governance, amendment of Article 55(3) would extend the total participation in district level elections and bring democracy closer to the citizenry.
“It will also change the rule where appointments of MMDCES resides in the hands of the president to sovereign will of the people,” he said.
However, the Chamber of Local Governance has urged the citizenry to vote ‘no’ in the upcoming referendum to ensure local government system remained non-partisan.
Responding to the assertion, Dr Jonah observed that over the years, the system had been secretly partisan. It would be better to legalise it, be regulated in an open and transparent manner and the nation ranked sixth in democratic governance in Africa, according to Ibrahim Index of Good Governance.
Reacting to a school of thought that voting ‘yes’ to the referendum would breed corruption, he disagreed, saying “there is still corruption when the system is non-partisan, it is fact there is monetisation in our politics and we need to collectively find lasting solutions to the issue.”
He debunked the notion that “voting ‘yes’ in referendum will lead to politicisation of development projects and that the system will give ultimate power to the citizenry irrespective of one’s political affiliation, will enable anybody to be elected as the MMDCEs to be accountable and transparent to the citizenry and not the president.
The two main political parties, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) are divided on the issue, where the NPP have encouraged the citizenry to vote ‘yes’ and the NDC say ‘no’. -GNA