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Election of DCEs: PPP opposes govt’s procedure

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong

Akwasi Opong-FosuThe Progressive People’s Party is against the position adopted by the National Democratic Congress government with respect to the election of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs).

The PPP has, therefore, reminded the Minister of Local Government & Rural Development that the recommendation of the Constitution Review Commission (CRC) was for direct and popular election of MMDCEs to which recommendation the PPP strongly subscribe.

According to the minister, the President, in line with the recommendations of the CRC, would nominate five candidates for the position of MMDCEs.

He said the names would then be forwarded to the Public Services Commission. The Commission would then do due diligence on their capabilities through thorough interviewing sessions. The Commission would shortlist three candidates who would be presented to the electorate for campaigning and election.

The minister said the election would be non-partisan as each candidate would be expected to contest on their own merit.

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However, the PPP rejected the government’s proposed guidelines, stating that “nominating five candidates to go through the proposed process is an insult to the intelligence of the people of Ghana. What is the point of a rigged election? Every Ghanaian with a desire to change his or her local community must be allowed to nominate himself/herself for the office of chief executive. This constitutional change is critical to the progress of our nation.”

According to the Chairman of the CRC, Justice Albert Kodzo Fiadjoe, the CRC made recommendations “for deeper decentralisation through the transfer of more funds from the centre to the districts; moving more power to the units by providing for the direct and popular election of Metropolitan and Municipal Chief Executives”.

In the view of the PPP, the NDC and NPP had resisted pursuing this constitutional change because they want to preserve control over local budgets.  They want to ensure that they can reward their foot soldiers with treats from the state coffers.

The PPP is the only party with the courage to tell the truth about the necessity for this reform for the benefit of all Ghanaians, the statement added.

According to the PPP, the proposal by the government was not different from the current practice as the government was disingenuously trying to sell to us under the cloak of a CRC recommendation.

What is the difference between the nomination of five candidates and the current practice of nominating a candidate with the prior approval of the respective district assemblies, the PPP asked.

It said the people’s desire to have DCE’s elected was to ensure that their Chief Executive was directly accountable to them and not the appointing authority at the Flagstaff House.

The government’s proposal is a smokescreen to maintain the status quo and continue to avoid accountability, the PPP statement pointed out and said the President would still have the opportunity to extend the strong arm of executive influence on the proposed guidelines/processes.

In the PPP’s view, “that it is evident that appointed DCEs have been doing the bidding of the central authority and have not vigorously delivered on the social and economic issues confronting the people in their respective jurisdictional enclaves.”

According to the PPP,  the involvement of the Public Services Commission (PSC) in this process was absurd and untenable, saying the role of the PSC under the 1992 Constitution was to assist the President and the governing councils of such public services in the appointment of the heads of those organisations.

The position of the MMDCEs does not come under the public services as provided under chapter 14 of the Constitution. If the involvement of the PSC is relevant in the appointment of political heads, then why don’t we have the PSC shortlist Presidential and Parliamentary Candidates before any general elections, the PPP asked?

In the view of the PPP, the PSC’s involvement will be cumbersome, bureaucratic and counter-productive.

We believe there is a pool of talent from which we can have competent, capable, experienced and willing men and women who would seek the mandate of the people at the district level and contribute meaningfully to the development process. Why do we want to limit the people’s choices to five people who will be in the good books of the President? The people should be free to elect whoever they want to govern them at the district level. There should be free, fair and competitive elections at the district level, the PPP concluded in the statement.