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File image - Upcoming Referendum On Election Of MMDCEs

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The suggestion to elect the MMDCEs if endorsed by the electorate come December 17 will among other benefits enhance participation and all-inclusive governance at the grassroots level, ...
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Written By Dominic Hlordzi - In December this year Ghanaians will go to the polls to elect Assembly and Unit Committee members for the various Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies. Fastened to the election is the opportunity for the electorate to exercise their franchise in a referendum to either endorse or reject the proposal for the election of Chief Executives of the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies, MMDCEs.

Per the dictates of the 1992 Constitution, for the proposal to be successful there must be 40 percent voter turnout and at least 75 percent voting YES! This requirement, analysts believe, is a tall order as participation in the district level elections in the past has not been encouraging. To fully get the proposal anchored in law, Act 55(3) of the Constitution must be amended. If the amendment is carried through, the local elections will become partisan in nature and political parties can sponsor candidates on their tickets alongside Independent candidates to contest. Other legislations that are unentrenched will also be amended after the referendum to reflect the will of the people. Already the lawmakers have started the process. Support for the proposal to elect the MMDCEs in the corridors of power and arena of stakeholders is considered high.

It is really fascinating that all major political parties are in support of the idea. This was heavily buttressed at the National Commission for Civic Education, NCCE’s citizens’ education and awareness campaign launch in Accra. The endorsement is indeed not surprising because leading political parties, NPP, NDC, PPP, and CPP indicated in their 2016 manifestoes to pursue this goal. With this unity of purpose, it is now time for them to rally their followers and sympathizers to come out in their numbers to vote “Yes” at the referendum. Just as was exhibited beautifully during the creation of the new regions, it is the expectation of the proponents of the idea that the same will be done. It is equally refreshing to have commitment from current MMDCEs towards the process. Echoing the positions of the MMDCEs, the Mayor of Accra, Mohammed Nii Adjei Sowah said the Chief Executives are convinced that electing them is the path to traverse and are in full support to ensure that the nation’s democracy is further deepened and accountability strengthened. This is a colossal plus to the campaign.

Yes, even though the elite and bigwigs are demonstrating their support, the votes are on the thumbs of the masses. They must be educated and convinced with tangible reasons for them to buy into the proposal. This is why the NCCE must be commended for taking up the mantle to educate the citizenry. The media is vital in this enterprise. Fortunately, the Ghana Journalists Association under its Star Ghana-Local Governance Project, aimed at enhancing media and Civil Society Organisations, CSOs partnerships for inclusive local governance, is rallying the media to intensify public education on the referendum. It is vital to emphasize that the report of the Constitution Review Commission which was set up to overhaul and grease the 1992 Constitution, recommended the MMDCEs’ election and averred that it is unconstitutional to continue to appoint them. Scanning the socio-political landscape, it is crystal clear that opponents to the proposal are few. Stakeholders including CSOs are in favor and there is a strong indication that former Heads of State have already voted “Yes” with their comments on the proposal.

The suggestion to elect the MMDCEs if endorsed by the electorate come December 17 will among other benefits enhance participation and all-inclusive governance at the grassroots level, end the winner takes all politics at least locally, give power to the people to decide the fate of their Chief Executives and enhance accountability to the people, as the Chief Executives may cease to be puppets of the appointing authority. Also, the rivalry between MMDCEs and Members of Parliament will somewhat be checked as they will all be subjected to the voting powers of the people. Even though electing the MMDCEs may not be a panacea to addressing the woes of the people, it is a step in the right direction. For now, 40/75 is the agenda. Let us all get involved. For democracy according to Abraham Lincoln, former US President is the government of the people, by the people, for the people. Let us go out there on December 17 to demonstrate the truism of the power that we wield as the rightful owners of the democratic space.

 

NEWS COMMENTARY ON THE UPCOMING DISTRICT LEVEL ELECTIONS AND REFERENDUM

BY: DOMINIC HLORDZI, A JOURNALIST.

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