By Kodjo Adams, GNA
Accra, Nov. 18, GNA - The Institute of Democratic Governance (IDEG) has called on the public to vote "Yes" in the upcoming referendum for the proposed amendment of Article 55 (3) of the 1992 Constitution which will make local government elections partisan.
Article 55 (3) states that “subject to the provisions of this article, a political party is free to participate in shaping the political will of the people, to disseminate information on political ideas, social and economic programmes of a national character and sponsor candidates for elections to any public office other than to District Assemblies or lower local government units.’’
The referendum has become necessary because Article 55 is an entrenched provision in the Constitution.
In an interview with the Ghana News Agency in Accra, Dr Kwesi Jonah, a Senior Research Fellow, IDEG, said the election of MMDCEs would mark a major development in the country's democratic governance.
He said some aspects of the country's political system needed reforms to give room to Ghanaians to elect their District Chief Executives.
Prior to 2016, majority of the political parties proposed working on the weaknesses in the local government system to ensure the election of Municipal and Metropolitan District Chief Executives (MMDCES).
Dr Jonah said the amendment of Article 55(3) would extend the total participation in district election and bring democracy closer to the public.
"It will also change the rule where appointments of MMDCES resides in the hands of the President to the sovereign will of the people," he said.
However, the Chamber of Local Governance, has called on Ghanaians to vote 'No' in the upcoming Referendum to ensure that the local government system remained non-partisan.
Responding to the assertion, Dr Jonah said over the years, the system has been secretly partisan and it would be better to legalize it and be regulated in an open and transparent manner.
Ghana ranked sixth in democratic governance in Africa, according to the Ibrahim Index of Good Governance.
Reacting to a school of thought that voting 'Yes' to the referendum would breed corruption, Dr Jonah disagreed, saying there was still corruption when the system was non-partisan.
"It is a fact that there is so much monetization in the Ghanaian politics and as such we need to collectively find lasting solutions to the issue".
He debunked the notion that voting 'Yes' in the referendum would lead to politicization of development projects, stressing that the system would give ultimate power in the hands of the people irrespective of one's political affiliation.
This, he explained, would enable anybody to be elected as the Municipal Chief Executive to be accountable to the people and not the President.
The two main political parties, the New Patriotic Party and the National Democratic Congress are divided on the issue, where the NPP have encouraged Ghanaians to vote 'Yes' the NDC say 'No'.
The NPP believes that the voting 'Yes' would help enhance and strengthen the decentralization process of governance in the country.
On the other hand, the NDC said the introduction of partisanship in local level elections would polarize the District Assemblies.
On December 17, 2019, the Electoral Commission will conduct the district level elections and this would require citizens to vote for their Unit Committee Chairs, and their Assembly members.
Citizens will also be required to vote either "Yes" to support the participation of political parties in the election of MMDCEs or "No" to retain the existing system.
The referendum requires that 40 per cent out of the total registered voters turn out to vote out of which 75 per cent must vote in favour of the amendment to allow political parties to participate in the District Level Elections.