As part of government’s vision to ensure citizens’ participation in the election of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs), a roadmap has been developed to guide the legislative reviews and stakeholder participation, which will require a referendum in 2019.
The roadmap, designed in three phases and activities are to be implemented on an annual basis running from 2017-2021.
These phases will entail Pre-Referendum, Referendum and Post Referendum Activities.
The current practice is that the president nominates MMDCEs for all 216 district assemblies across the country.
President Nana Akuffo-Addo in his 2018 State of the Nation address sounded the death knell of the appointment of MMDCEs, adding that their election must be on multi-party basis.
In that regard, Hajia Halima Mahama, Minister for Local Government and Rural Development, during a press briefing in Accra. reiterated the need for a change in the mode of appointing MMDCEs at the local level.
“The Constitution Review Commission’s (CRC) report, amongst others, strongly calls for a change in the manner of appointing MMDCEs,” she emphasised
Some key consequential laws, Hajia Mahama observed, ought to be reviewed and amended to allow for an increase of citizens in democratic governance at the district level.
The minister noted that turn out and citizenry participation in district level elections is currently at an average low of between 30 percent and 40 percent, as against 75 to 85 percent at the national level.
Mahama said the institution of the roadmap will reduce exclusion as well as the ‘’winner takes all’’ syndrome, thereby deepening democracy.
She stated the move will also promote democracy by affording local people the opportunity to choose their own leaders, which gives meaning to participation in governance.
‘’Along with making sure the MMDCEs are more accountable to the people, security of tenure will be provided to elected persons, which will also reduce tension between MMDCEs and a member of parliament.’’
To secure an efficient and transparent elections at the district level, the minister said some 10 regional consultations, sensitization, media engagement and a stakeholders’ meeting on MMDCEs elections will be conducted to raise awareness and prepare for the referendum.
‘’A bill will then be drafted for the amendment of Article 55 (3), an entrenched provision of the 1992 constitution,’’ she noted.
A submission of the National Consensus Report on the election of MMDCEs will also be presented to cabinet.
“After all the designated processes, the bill will be sent to parliament for a first reading, which will pave the way for the referendum,’’ Hajia Mahama added.
She said the referendum, which will be conducted in September 2019, along with the district level election, requires that 40 percent of persons entitled to vote, exercise that right at the referendum and that, at least, 75 percent who vote, cast their votes in favour of the bill for it to hold.
Where the bill is approved, Parliament shall pass it and assented to by the President.
Hajia Mahama expressed optimism that Ghanaians would support the idea of electing MMDCEs.
By Mawuli Y. Ahorlumegah