By Bala Ali
With the intention of promoting popular participation at the grassroot level, His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwah Akufo-Addo’s administration has proposed the election of MMDCEs through national referendum.
Until his government’s decision, the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives were appointed by the president. To realise this, his government must initiate the amendment of Articles 243 (1) and 55 (3) which empower the President to appoint the MMDCEs and bans partisan politics in the election of District Assembly Members respectively. Since these provisions are enshrined in the entrenched clauses, the President cannot do otherwise but refer his decision to the Ghanaian citizens to decide through referendum.
It is against this backdrop that the cabinet of Ghana prepared a bill of amendment which has already gone through Parliament for deliberations. The next level is for Ghanaians to support the decision of Parliament by voting, “Yes” on this constitutional matter so that we can go ahead and implement that decision of electing our MMDCEs. Per the dictates of the 1992 Constitution, we need 40 per cent turnout, out of which over 75 per cent must vote in approval. It is not for any other reason that I am calling on Ghanaians to vote “Yes.” I am convicted and convinced that it will promote popular participation at the grassroot level and also promote accountability at that level.
Participation and Accountable Governance
Apart from periodic elections, popular participation and accountable governance are equally important principles of democracy. It is for this reason that I believe the MMDCEs should be elected by the people since they, the DCEs, are constitutionally mandated to manage our resources at that level of government. As the managers and distributors of resources at that level of government with the power to generate revenue, it is just fair that they are elected by the people, from whom they raise taxes.
The election of MMDCEs with the power to generate revenue from the people will automatically create a good platform for the people to hold these agents of development at the grassroot level accountable through various mechanisms including periodic elections. This will push the MMDCEs to do their best for the people.
In line with accountable governance and popular participation, the election of MMDCE’s will also create a good platform for people with the potential and expertise of generating revenue and effectively running the districts to compete for such viable positions. This will also help to define clearly, the mandate of the MPs and the MMDCE. I hope Ghanaians know the point I want to drive home.
Nevertheless, I have noted with interest, a section of Ghanaians who think that when this happens, sitting presidents can be sabotaged in opposition stronghold districts. I hold a diametrically opposed view. If the constitution is clear on the kind of development the MMDCEs are responsible for, their failure to champion development will lead to their rejection. Notwithstanding, we can deal with this fear by appealing to the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) and other bodies that are interested in the strengthening of our local government system to organise debates for the candidates for the public to assess their competence.
For this and many other good reasons, I want to charge every Ghanaian, especially the youths, to join in the education of the Ghanaian public to vote yes on this issue on 17th December, 2019.