Referendum on election of MMDCEs expected in September 2019 says Dr Osae

BY: Michael Quaye
 Dr Eric Oduro Osae
Dr Eric Oduro Osae

A referendum intended to amend an entrenched constitutional provision to allow for the election of metropolitan, municipal and district chief executives (MMDCEs) is expected to be held in September 2019.

The referendum will, however, be preceded by sensitisation efforts to ensure the exercise achieves the minimum 75 per cent voter endorsement.

The proposed amendment to the relevant constitutional provision also seeks to allow political parties to field and support candidates in district-level elections as opposed to the prevailing case.

A Technical Advisor to the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, Dr Eric Oduro Osae, who disclosed this at a sensitisation forum in Wa, said the benefits of amending the provision to enable the election of MMDCEs outweighed any other considerations.

He noted that the intended election of MMDCEs had also been slated for June 2021 only because of intervening factors relating to other major elections in the country.

He mentioned next year's district-level elections and the 2020 general election as major electoral processes that could not be mixed with the election of MMDCEs.

Forum

The forum – the eighth in the series of regional engagements by the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development with various stakeholders in the local governance structure – was to whip up the support of relevant stakeholders for a successful referendum on the subject.

Advancing arguments in support of the need to elect MMDCEs, Dr Osae said the current governance arrangement had concentrated power in the hands of the President and that the election of MMDCEs — rather than the current appointing system — would properly decentralise the governance process and hand some amount of power to the people.

Yesterday's event was attended by traditional rulers, assembly members, DCEs, coordinating directors within the district assembly structure, civil society organisations and a section of the public.

Manifesto promise

The Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Hajia Alima Mahama, said although the election of MMDCEs was a manifesto promise by the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP), the referendum hurdle had become a necessity because of the constitutional prohibition.

“The need for a change in the mode of appointing MMDCEs has been identified as a governance gap in our local governance system,” she stated.

She added that various researches and surveys, including the final document of the Constitutional Review Commission and another survey by the National Commission on Civic Education (NCCE), had suggested the public's preference for the election of MMDCEs to the current appointment arrangement.

She said electing MMDCEs on a partisan basis would promote local democracy, ensure security of tenure for the MMDCEs, reduce the winner-takes-all jigsaw in Ghanaian politics among others.

In a presentation in support of the proposal, a representative of the Centre for Local Governance Advocacy, Gabriel Dari, said given the overwhelming support for the proposal from all political parties, there was the need for the public to come on board to vote in favour to effect the necessary amendment.