A Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG), Mr Kwesi Jonah, has said the impending referendum is not intended to decide whether or not metropolitan, municipal and district chief executives (MMDCEs) should be elected.
Instead, it will be a referendum that will ensure the amendment of Article 55(3) of the 1992 Constitution to allow political parties to participate in local governance elections in the country.
Mr Jonah clarified this during a multi-stakeholders forum to clarify misconceptions surrounding the impending referendum on political parties’ participation in local governance elections to ensure that members of the public understood the issues and were well informed about the voting process.
It was organised by RISE Ghana, a civil society organisation (CSO) in Bolgatanga and was facilitated by NORSAAC, an advocacy CSO in collaboration with IDEG.
The project, which had funding support from STAR-Ghana Foundation, formed part of NORSAAC’s project, titled: “The Referendum we want project”, and brought together CSOs, state institutions, political parties, persons with disabilities and the media among others.
The programme was intended to sensitise the stakeholders to be well informed about the upcoming referendum to enable them to replicate the knowledge and understanding to the public through their respective endeavours to ensure they turn out to vote.
It was held on the theme: “The Review of Article 55: A Panacea or A Burden on the Winner-takes-all Practice in Ghana”.
On December 10, 2019, Ghanaians will vote in a referendum to decide on a proposal to amend Article 55(3) of the 1992 Constitution, which is an entrenched provision, to allow political parties to participate in local governance elections in the country while Parliament amends Article 243(1), which is not entrenched to allow MMDCEs to be elected by the electorate.
Currently, the President nominates the various MMDCEs with subsequent approval by their respective assembly members; however, if this proposal is approved during the referendum, MMDCEs will directly be elected by the electorate on political party basis and will no longer be nominated by the President.
For this to happen, the referendum must record at least a 40 per cent voter turnout of total registered voters in the country and 75 per cent voting to affirm the proposal.
Mr Jonah observed that most Ghanaians were not well informed on the right issues surrounding the impending referendum, adding that the upcoming referendum was to allow the citizenry to decide whether or not they wanted political parties to participate in the election of MMDCEs contrary to people’s perception that it was to decide on whether or not MMDCEs should be elected.
Development at local level
The senior research fellow explained that election of MMDCEs on the basis of political parties contest would propel development at the local level as political parties would be compelled to present most qualified candidates and try to perform well to ensure that the electorate retained them in power.
He said it would further cement the democratic credentials of the country as many political parties would be allowed to contest elections at the local level and promote transparency, accountability, inclusive governance and improve service delivery to reduce poverty and ensure the wellbeing of the people.
The Head of Programmes and Policy at the NORSAAC, Madam Hafsatu Sey Sumani, underscored the need for stakeholders to intensify education on the referendum to members of the public through their respective programming to make them vote wisely.
The stakeholders commended NORSAAC and its advocacy partners for clarifying issues on the referendum but raised concerns that there may be stifling and sabotaging between the President and the MMDCEs particularly where the President and the chief executive belong to different political parties.