A comprehensive road map for the implementation of the election of metropolitan, municipal and district chief executives (MMDCEs) in 2021 has been outlined, beginning with pre-referendum activities ahead of a major referendum in September 2019.
The road map, which comes in three phases, comprises pre-referendum activities, referendum activities and post-referendum activities geared towards the successful implementation of the new order.
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.
Briefing journalists on the road map in Accra yesterday, the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Hajia Alima Mahama, said there would be an amendment to Article 55(3) of the 1992 Constitution, which is an entrenched provision.
The article states: “Subject to the provisions of this article, a political party is free to participate in shaping the political will of the people, to disseminate information on political ideas, social and political programmes of a national character, and sponsor candidates for the election to any public office other than to the District Assemblies or lower local government units.”
As part of the preparations for this year, she said, 10 regional consultations and sensitisation to raise awareness of and prepare for the referendum would be conducted, alongside undertaking media engagements on the election.
Additionally, meetings with special groups in Accra would be held, while a final stakeholders’ consultation on the election of MMDCEs would also be conducted, she added.
Hajia Alima said a national consensus report and a proposed bill amending Article 55 (3) of the 1992 Constitution on the election of MMDCEs would be submitted to the Cabinet before the submission of the proposed bill to the Speaker of Parliament.
She explained that the Speaker would then submit the bill to the Council of State for advice, in line with Article 290 (2&3) of the 1992 Constitution, before submitting advice on the bill within 30 days on receipt from the Speaker for the bill to be published and gazetted for six months.
Activities for 2019
Delving into the activities for 2019, the minister said the bill would be sent to Parliament for first reading to pave way for the referendum in September next year, alongside the district level elections.
Article 290 (4) 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”.
According to her, anything short of the number would render the entire process null and void and would amount to a rejection of the idea of making the election of MMDCEs partisan.
The Local Government Minister, however, indicated that in the event that the bill was approved, Parliament would pass it before it would be assented to by the President.
On post-referendum activities in 2020, Hajia Mahama said, among others, that articles 242, 243 and 248 of the 1992 Constitution were the key consequential laws that were to be amended, the same with the Local Governance Act 2016 (Act 936) and the Constitutional Instruments on district assembly elections.
She alluded to the organisation of a national sensitisation, educational and awareness programme on the new arrangement for the election of MMDCEs on a partisan basis this year.
She gave the tentative period for the election as between June and July 2021, with the swearing in of new MMDCEs in August the same year.
The New Patriotic Party (NPP), during the 2016 electioneering, promised to make the position of MMDCEs an elective one if voted into power to make the officers more accountable to the people.
But many expected the party, now in government, to fulfil its campaign promise in its first term ahead of Election 2020, but it rather set a new date for 2021, which attracted some political parties, especially the 2016 flag bearer of the Progressive People’s Party, Dr Papa Kwesi Nduom, to, at a news conference last week, demand the immediate implementation of the election of MMDCEs.