Deputy Commissioner of Ghana’s Electoral Commission, Dr Bossman Eric Asare has made a strong case for why Ghanaians should vote YES in the upcoming referendum scheduled for December 17, 2019, ABC News can report.
The referendum is to make way for the amendment of Article 55(3) of the 1992 Constitution to allow political parties to participate in local government elections.
The proposal for the amendment had received enthusiastic support from the public until recently when an immense campaign for a NO vote emerged, particularly on social media.
The opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), who had been in favour of the referendum last week made a sudden U-turn to join the NO campaign, citing among other reasons the possible situation of polarisation at the local level which has characterised Ghana’s national politics.
But Dr Eric Asare who acknowledges that the arguments put forward by such bodies and individuals are reasonable, remains positive in thoughts that a YES vote remains the best way to ensure development at the local level.
According to him, best practices all over the world have proven that local government elections on partisan bases engender development better than the status quo in Ghana, indicating that it increases accountability and responsibility on the side of the elected leaders.
“The NO people are making intelligent argument and the YES also making same and we can’t say these people’s argument is better than the other but when you look at best practices in many parts of the World, they tend to favour the partisan.
“I as an academic, I did some local government work and I remember when I was teaching in the USA I use to teach some local government politics. When you look at literature and the best practice argument, what is very clear is that political parties tend to be more responsible when they are given opportunity and let’s be very clear; we know that in Ghana our local government accountability has been an issue. The best practice argument supports the political parties being engaged at the local level,” he said.
Dr Bossman Asare further argued that having political parties participate in the local level elections will remove several bottlenecks that have bedeviled the country development, particularly at the local level such as the “winner-takes-all” politics.
It was also the case of the Deputy EC Chairman that voting for YES will give opportunity to the smaller parties to have a proper stake in the governance process of the country and ensure healthy competition among the various political parties.
“We shouldn’t also forget that we have always been complaining that the president is given so much powers and we are also complaining about winner-takes-all politics. The President appoints about 260 DCEs. It addresses some of the problems with winner-takes-all because not all assemblies will have their Chief Executives from one party.
“So I get the feeling that if we are able to do this partisan local government election we will get to a point where Ghanaians will be able to compare the performance of an NDC led district assembly and an NPP led District Assembly.
“..And even beyond that we should expect the smaller parties to be able to gain some chances because if I were a smaller party like the LPG, the PNC, I am not going to contest national but rather look at the bigger picture and target a district,” he opined.
He observed that there is the need for education and engagement to allow people to make the right choices which will inure to the benefit of the state.
“Let’s look at those that have local government elections that are partisan and let’s look at their development outcomes. I think these are intellectual engagement that we need to have. Let’s look at the contest and if there are people who we need to engage in our final stretch of the referendum, let’s engage them.
“Just imagine you have engaged the National House of Chiefs and the Political Parties have engaged one another and come up with a monolithic statement that based on certain things,” he added.