On 17th December 2019, Ghanaians will go to the polls to vote on a referendum question that seeks from citizens whether or not multi-partisan election system must be introduced at the local government level in Ghana. Ahead of the referendum, ChLoG in a press statement has requested Government to answer some twenty-two questions which they say “are begging for answers”.
The questions bothered on why the government is not prioritizing the amendment of Article 243 (1) which takes the powers of appointing MMDCEs from the hands of the President by Parliament first before pushing ‘very hard’ for Article 55 (3) which will talk about political parties involvement. It also had questions on why the government is waiting for the outcome of the referendum before it deals with the consequential amendments on the election of MMDCEs. Other questions focused on the relevance of the involvement of political parties in local level elections, the autonomy of the MMDAS after the election of MMDCEs on partisan basis, among others.
The Ministry while expressing its appreciation for the contribution of the Chamber to local governance development also expressed hopes that the responses to the issues, would bring clarity to bear on the entire process and to encourage citizens to go out in their numbers to vote YES in the upcoming referendum.
The Ministry’s release responded to each of the questions raised by the Chamber.
On the issue of not prioritizing the amendment of Article 243 (1), the Ministry said that is exactly what is happening. “Amendment to Article 243(1) has been prioritized, the amendment bill was the first to be processed. It is presently in Parliament and has gone through all the required processes. It is at the last stage which requires a vote by Members of Parliament (MPs) to approve the Bill. If we work hard it may be approved before 17th December 2019,” the statement said.
The Ministry added that it could not have amended the other consequential laws as is been demanded since the outcome of the referendum is what will clearly determine the direction the country should go and the required additional laws to be amended. “At the moment what ‘if’ scenario analysis has been provided for in the roadmap for consequential amendments depending on whether or not the referendum returns a YES or NO vote. Without knowing the outcome of the referendum, identifying the exact consequential amendments to make to move the process forward will be difficult,” the statement said.
The Ministry further stated that the upcoming referendum is not solely about the election of MMDCEs adding that but if it goes through, the first area of application shall be to elect MMDCEs in 2021 since the tenure of the current MMDCEs ends in that year.
The responses also addressed the issue of winner takes all, the need to have partisan participation at the local level among others.