Dennis Peprah, GNA
Techiman, (B/A), Feb. 28, GNA – Assembly Members (AMs) in Sunyani and Techiman Municipalities have lauded the proposed Election of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) in the country and called on Parliament to speed up its legislative processes.
Government has laid a Bill before the House for consideration and possibly, amendment of Article 243 (1) on the appointment of MMDCEs by the President and Article 55 (3), which prohibits the involvement of political parties in district-level elections.
The move by the government is in fulfilment of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Election 2016 manifesto to oversee the direct election of MMDCEs in the country.
In an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) on the sidelines of a Ghana Journalists Association (GJA)-STAR Ghana local governance project, the members said the election of the MMDCEs would deepen accountability, strengthen local governance and reduce corruption.
Under the project titled “enhanced media-CSO partnerships for Inclusive local governance”, the GJA in partnership with civil society actors would carry out integrated set of media interventions in order to foster and strengthen the collaboration between the two institutions.
The GJA anticipates that the project would contribute to improving citizens’ access to information on public policy-making and implementation, and add value to the livelihoods of citizens, especially the vulnerable, marginalised and socially-excluded persons in the communities under the 18-month project.
Mr Daniel Kofi Debrah, the Assemblyman for Hansua Electoral Area in the Techiman Municipality noted that the constitutional provision that gave the President the power to nominate MMDCEs for Assemblies to approve them were not the best.
“We have practised this for a long time but you can see the Assemblies are not doing anything new or making any significant achievement. I agree with the government and Parliament must agree as well and amend the constitution to allow the election of MMDCEs”, he stated.
Mr Debrah observed that because they were appointed by the President, many of the MMDCEs had the view they were only accountable to the ruling government, a situation which discouraged citizens’ active participation in local government.
But he added that Parliament must be diligent in the constitutional amendment processes to provide the best remedy for the nation.
Mr Evans Kyere, the Assemblyman for Aheneboboano Electoral Area in the Sunyani Municipality said possible election of the MMDCEs would push a sense and idea of ownership into the minds of the people and contribute their quota towards decision making processes and enhance the decentralisation concept.
He said with the election of the MMDCEs the nation could tackle her development shortfalls in a more proactive manner as the elected MMDCEs and the Assembly would not over-rely on the central government in addressing the developmental needs of the people.
“I believe with the elections, the MMDCEs would protect their interest and work hard to gain the confidence of the people and maintain his or her seat in subsequent elections”, he added.
Mr Kyere expressed concern about inaccessible roads, poor sanitation and drainage systems in his electoral area, and appealed to the city authorities to address the problem.
Another Assemblyman Yaw Osei at the Akoraa-Kwadjo Electoral Area in the Sunyani Municipality noted with regret that because the MMDCEs were not elected by the people many of them did not have time to listen to the concerns and address the priority needs of the people.
“The MMDCEs must understand that they are serving the people and not the President, and this could happen if citizens were allowed to elect them, and I believe that is the best alternative for Ghana now”, he said.
Mr Osei said due to the importance and workload of the AMs, government must consider setting apart a percentage of the District Assembly Common Fund (DACF) for them to embark on development projects in their localities.
This would enable communities to address their developmental challenges in a prioritised way and whip up their interest in decision-making processes at the local and national levels.