The Minister of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD), Hajia Alima Mahama, has said the proposal to elect Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) is an inevitable intervention critically needed to deepen the democratic process of the nation.
She noted that the move was in line with contemporary global best practice in local governance; and that to allow locals to popularly elect their own leaders was long overdue.
Hajia Mahama, who was addressing a regional sensitisation workshop on the first-time election of MMDCEs on the theme: “Electing MMDCEs for improved Local Democracy and Good Governance” in Ho last Wednesday, said the need for a change in the mode of appointing MMDCEs had been identified as a governance gap.
She indicated that it was designed to fill the democratic deficit, adding that the government of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) had deemed it fit to revise the constitutional, legal, policy and institutional changes to ensure that MMDCEs were elected on partisan lines.
In attendance were municipal and district chief executives, municipal and district coordinating directors, representatives of political parties, chiefs and queens, representatives of civil society organisations and identifiable groups.
She stated that the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, had been emphatic on the proposal and even restated the vision in the State of the Nation Address (SONA 2018), that the constitutional impediment which was an entrenched clause must be removed to pave the way for a referendum for a national consensus on the matter.
Hajia Mahama, therefore, appealed to all participants in the consultative meeting to deliberate on the issue dispassionately irrespective of their alignment with any political party or any other interest group to build a favourable consensus towards the achievement of the desired goal to promote local democracy and to select a leader who would be more responsive and directly accountable to the people.
In his presentation, a Senior Research Fellow of the Institute of Democratic Governance (IDEG), Dr Kwesi Jonah, said it was an important step to bring the nation in line with other democracies, adding that past governments were reluctant to cede power to the local level because they wished to maintain control over the local government system.
Explaining the processes of amendment of entrenched and non-entrenched provisions, he said there was the need to amend Article 55(3) for a public referendum and Article 290(2) of the 1992 Constitution.
Dr Jonah explained that what was crucial to be done was for parliamentarians to treat the agenda as a non-partisan issue and vote dispassionately for a change, adding that there was a timeline for various processes fixed by the Constitution and, therefore, it might be time-consuming.
In a welcome address, the Volta Regional Minister, Dr Archibald Yao Letsa, reiterated that the President was committed to the process and called on all stakeholders to support his cause.
Topics treated at the workshop were: “Introduction to Local Governance and Decentralisation in Ghana: Conceptual Framework and Functions of MMDCEs”, “Election of MMDCEs on Partisan Basis: Rationale, Processes and Expected Roles of Stakeholders” and “Roadmap for the election of MMDCEs”.