Alhaji Sulemana Alhassan, the Upper West Regional Minister, has urged stakeholders to support President Akufo-Addo’s vision and determination to ensure the election of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) materialises to deepen Ghana’s decentralisation system.
“The President has always reiterated the commitment to honour all his promises. Let us support the vision of the President and make this a reality,” he said on Monday in Wa during an awareness raising workshop on the election of MMDCEs.
Before the 2016 general elections, there were debates as to whether MMDCEs should be continually appointed as pertains in the current local government law or elected.
According to Alhaji Alhassan, a majority opinion including the ruling government was on the election side as this could further deepen decentralisation and make MMDCEs more accountable to the people.
The New Patriotic Party in its 2016 manifesto pledged to effect the election of MMDCEs if it won the general elections, he said, and would, therefore, work assiduously to satisfy all legal and constitutional requirements to make the election come to pass.
He expressed hope that the regional workshop would enrich the discourse and create smooth understanding when the implementation begins for active participation by citizens in the election process.
Since the introduction of Ghana’s decentralisation system in 1988, MMDCEs have been given the role of being the chief representative of the central government at the local level and has been appointed by the President and approved by the general assembly.
But local governance experts have identified the need to change the mode of appointing the chief executives as a governance gap in Ghana’s local governance system which was further amplified by the Constitution Review Commission (CRC) on the 1992 constitution.
“There have been incessant calls for a change in the manner of appointing MMDCEs to accord with the new democratic dispensation. Some have gone as far as to argue for a complete democratisation of the local governance system,” the CRC report said.
It was to meet this democratic deficit, deepen local democracy and bring good governance to the doorsteps of Ghanaians that in 2016 the NPP government then in opposition promised to elect MMDCEs on the partisan basis if elected into office.
Hajia Alima Mahama, the Minister for Local Government and Rural Development, said participation at the district level elections currently has a lower national percentage of 30 to 40 and could go up to match the 75 to 85 percent pertaining in national elections after firming up the election process.
She said because the government was committed to the process, it initiated the process to affect the necessary constitutional, legal, policy and institutional changes to ensure MMDCEs were being voted on the partisan basis.
She added that CRC, Afro Barometer Survey and National Commission for Civic Education, have identified the mode of appointing MMDCEs as a governance gap in Ghana’s local governance structure.
Participants were taken through the introduction to local governance and decentralisation in Ghana: Conceptual framework and functions of MMDCEs and Election of MMDCEs on the partisan basis: rationale, processes and expected roles of stakeholders.
They were also introduced to “Roadmap for the election of MMDCEs”.