Dear Dr. Papa Kwesi Nduom,
I have read with great interest the Progressive Peoples Party’s article that appeared on graphiconline.com on 14th June 2016 regarding the election of MMDCEs. I run a nonprofit that advocates for sound public policy and also intervenes in rural Ghana, specifically in education, gender mainstreaming and entrepreneurship capacity-building at the SHS level. Having taken a keen interest in improving primary-level educational outcomes in Gomoa West, part of the feedback we have gotten so far points to weak district-level supervision leading to ineffective performance management at the school level. So obviously, a policy proposal to improve accountability at the district level is right in my domain of interest. First, I wish to congratulate you, Dr, Papa Kwesi Nduom, on the clarity you bring to policy dialogue in this governance space. You lead the pack in this regard. Kindly permit me nonetheless, to bring a challenge that demands greater clarity in respect of this proposal. By the way I am very aware, that the flagbearer of the NPP, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has also affirmed his party’s position on the matter of electing MMDCEs. I write to you primarily because your article claimed originality of thought on this policy proposal. Am not really interested in the politics. I just want answers to some basic questions and so what I inquire of you I do same of Nana Addo as well.
To make it easy, I will enumerate my inquiry in bullet form so as to clearly delineate the issues. Please be mindedsir, that these are genuine inquiries, free of assumptions or the usual cynicism that characterize our politics. My objectives are dual in focus. I want to know for my own persuasion as a voter and also to be satisfied that, within our peculiar developmental context, considerable thought has been invested into your party’s decision to embrace this policy. Policy formulation is serious business and so I expect that empiricism, more than rhetoric, would drive our policy agenda in our run-up to 2016 elections. So here we go:
- You seem to be convinced that electing MMDCEs will lead to more development at the district level. Correct me if you may, but the running theory is that, using elections as a means of selecting chief executives at the periphery, would lead to more accountability, leading to development. Truth is, sir, evidence from scholarly literature is checkered and most studies have sought to pair decentralization with development outcomes. For instance Channa and Faguet (2012), though acknowledging the weak linkage between the two variables after in-depth literature review, proceed to argue that “higher-quality evidence indicates that decentralization increases technical efficiency across a variety of public services.” That’s good for you, sort of, but please permit me to cite a few more authorities. Siato (2009), also cited by Kiwanuka (2012, p.50), argues;
“…even in countries where local government councils are at least partially elected, they may not possess genuine political or bureaucratic independence, and they may be dominated by clientelistic local elites, in which case, local accountabilitymeans little if the center can override the results of local democratic processes, which is frequently the case in African countries.”
It seem to me therefore, that the more urgent imperative is for arigorous institutional reform at the local government level to mitigate against such developmental risks. As we all know, electing MMDCEs is but one cog in a very big wheel that must drive a broader decentralization agenda. What is the view of PPP? In which areas of the district assembly sub-structures would your party target for local government reforms besides electing MMDCEs?
- Without gainsay, it may be foolhardy to completely dismiss the views of those with opposing policy arguments. Some point to the risk of political fracture between the periphery and the centre, and more grievously so looking at Ghana’s polarized political culture. Permit me to rehash a few. In 2005, during a workshop organized by National Commission on Civic Education (NCCE) and Ghana Integrity Initiative (as reported by Ghana News Agency – 18th May 2005), the participants expressed this view on a paper delivered by the Senior Budget Analyst for the Komenda-Edina-Eguafo-Abrem, Mr Bless Kwame Darkey:
“…district chief executives belonging to the opposition parties could sabotage the development objectives of the government in power.”
Question: What checks and balances would PPP (and indeed, NPP as well) employ to address the risk of political sabotage?
- Let us use the analogy of national level electoral politics. In all honesty, can you say, Doc, that the exercise of universal adult suffrage has improved public sector accountability, thereby leading to development at the national level? I would appreciate some examples sir. And whilst at it please feel free to share PPP’s position on how electing MMDCEs would curb the nuisance of vested interest in the procurement and contract administration process at the district level?
With baited breath and patience, I await your response sir. At your convenience.
Exec., Dir., Rural Heights Foundation