On Monday, 14th October 2019, the Progressive People’s Party held a Press Conference to reiterate the position of the party, as regards election of MMDCEs and the procedures that had been put in place by the current administration for the realisation of this key reform in our local government system towards national development.
As an important pillar clearly spelt out in our ten point agenda for change and development, which has featured prominently in our election manifestos of 2012 and 2016; which we have undertaken extensive advocacy and won the arguments for it, we called for support from government, and all other groups, to come alive to the task and intensify the campaign in full support of a YES vote in the referendum to meet the 40% voter turnout rate and the 75% YES vote required.
Today, we are extremely disappointed and frustrated by the decision of President Akufo-Addo to “abort the process and seek the withdrawal of the Bills for the amendment of the constitution both in respect of Article 243(1) and Article 55(3)”. Why has the NPP chosen not to follow through on their campaign promise of bringing governance to the doorsteps of the people by “overseeing the direct election of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) within 24 months of election into office, to coincide with the next District Assembly elections in 2019” as promised in their 2016 manifesto?
Why should the President truncate a constitutional process by denying the masses the opportunity to determine how local administration should be established? If a few people decide to vote NO, should that be misconstrued as “disrespecting the President”, as suggested by Mr Dan Botwe, Minister for Regional Reorganization and Development? Which referendum in the world has recorded a 100% YES endorsement?
We believe that if the NPP had paid serious attention to the seven questions and issues the PPP presented during our 14th October 2019 Press Conference, the referendum would have been on course to a successful conclusion. We have reproduced the questions here for the benefit of all Ghanaians:
1. Since our position is to have all members of the MMDAs elected, we want to know what would become of Article 242 (d) which deals with composition of the MMDAs. Would the President continue to appoint 30% of members of the Assembly? How would the new membership look like?
2. What would remain of Article 243(3)(b) which deals with the appointment and removal of MMDCEs when the appointment part is settled with review of Articles 55(3) and 243 (1)? Would the President’s power to remove MMDCEs remain?
3. Would an elected MMDCE remain the head of the District Security Council? What about their roles as Chairs of the Tender Entity Committees and Principal Account Holders etc?
4. What would be the new formula for the distribution of the District Assemblies Common Fund? What percentage in GDP terms would be devoted to the Common Fund for the Assemblies as the basic units of development?
5. Would MPs still have a share of the Common Fund?
6. We envisage amendments to the Local Governance Act 2016, (Act 936), the District Assembly Elections Act 1994, (Act 473) and the District Elections Regulations 2015 C.I 89 among others as a consequence of amending Article 55(3), what are the proposals on the table?
7. Overall, how would the new MMDAs look like in terms of leadership, management and administration?
If these questions had been clarified during the series of regional engagements by the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development with various stakeholders in the local governance structure, which sought to whip up the support of relevant stakeholders for a successful referendum on the subject, we would not have reached this embarrassing end. As a matter fact, the President himself should have led the campaign to get Ghanaians to vote for the change sought by the referendum.
We propose that, parliament should still make change happen by focusing on amending Articles 243(1), 243(3), 248(1)(2) and 242(d) to establish the basis for the election of our MMDCEs.
If we are interested in holding our leaders accountable in the generation and judicious use of our resources for rapid development at the local level, then we must all support the call by the PPP to change the Constitution to enable the election of all MMDCEs.
The ability of our citizens to exercise basic political rights in electing their own MMDCEs is the sine qua non for local government decentralization which cannot wait any longer. Our Party is resolute and firm in our minds that the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpiller, and the palmerworm at the Metropolitan, Municipal, and District Assemblies must come to an end!
Paa Kow Ackon