The Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD) has engaged the National Commission for Civic Education ( NCCE) on the implementation of the road map for the election of metropolitan, municipal and district chief executives (MMDCEs) in 2021.
The MLGRD and NCCE engagement last Tuesday forms part of government’s stakeholder engagement for the delivery of the democratic process which is being implemented in phases and on an annual basis running from 2017 to 2021.
Leading discussions at the engagement, the Minister of MLGRD, Hajia Halima Mahama, indicated that the implementation phases were the pre-referendum, referendum and post-referendum during which a number of constitutional activities would be carried out.
As part of the pre-referendum activities that were undertaken in 2017, an election committee of MMDCEs was established with a review of legislation and preparation of background documents.
She said the most critical part of the road map was the referendum to amend Article 22(3) of the 1992 Constitution because it sought to, among others, prevent political parties from participating in the election of local leaders.
“Other enshrined provisions in the constitution that hindered the implementation of the policy will also be amended,” she said.
She indicated that the referendum would also be used to decide if the election should be political, partisan or not.
“The referendum is expected to be held in September 2019 jointly with the district assembly elections,” she stated.
Hajia Mahama mentioned the NCCE and the media in particular as a key stakeholder in the process, especially with regard to public sensitisation and education aimed at ensuring that all stakeholders understood and participated in the process.
She stated that the initiative was a campaign promise President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo was committed to, particularly, because of its potential to deepen democracy and ensure better accountability.
Throwing more light on the activities for 2019, the minister said the draft bill would be sent to Parliament for first reading to pave the way for the referendum in September next year, along side the district level elections.
Article 290 (4) of the 1992 Constitution requires that “at least 40 per cent of the persons entitled to vote, voted in a referendum and at least 75 per cent who voted cast their votes in favour of the bill”.
Hajia Mahama underscored the need for the elections of MMDCEs, explaining that because they were directly responsible for development at the grass roots, the people they served had the right to partake in the decisions as to who occupied those positions for enhanced accountability.
She mentioned other benefits of electing MMDCEs to include security of tenure of office, reduction of tension and acrimony between MMDCEs and Members of Parliament (MPs), help to break the winner-takes-all syndrome and reduce the incidence of unpopular people occupying those positions.
The minister added that the election of MMDCEs would also facilitate development at the grass roots through the implementation of key medium-term development plans of MMDAs because elected MMDCEs would want to show evidence of their work for re-election, among other benefits.
The chairperson of the NCCE appealed to the sector ministry for the necessary financial support to enable the commission to carry out its activities.
She said the appeal was premised on the fact that funds had been major constraints in previous similar national assignments.
However, she indicated that prior to the official implementation year, which is 2019 when a referendum was expected to be carried out, the commission would take advantage of their platforms to begin the public sensitisation and education.
She applauded the government for delivering on its promise because a research conducted by the commission with sponsorship from the European Union recently established that majority of Ghanaians preferred to elect their MMDCEs.