December referendum not to decide whether to elect MMDCEs – IDEG

A Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG), Mr Kwesi Jonah, has said the impending referendum is not to decide whether or not Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) should be elected. Instead, it would be a referendum that would 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 understand the issues to inform how they would vote. It was organized by RISE Ghana, a Civil Society Organization (CSO), in Bolgatanga 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”  which brought together CSOs, state institutions, political parties, persons with disabilities and the media among others. The programme was intended to sensitize the stakeholders to be well informed about the upcoming referendum to enable them 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 would 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 entrench to allow MMDCEs to be elected by the electorates. Currently, the President nominates the various MMDCEs and subsequent approval by their respective Assembly members; however, if this proposal is approved during the referendum, MMDCEs would directly be elected by the electorates on political party basis and not being nominated by the president anymore. For this to happen, the referendum must record at least 40 percent voter turnout of total registered voters in the country and 75 percent 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 want political parties to participate in the election of MMDCEs contrary to people’s perception, that it was to decide whether or not MMDCEs should be elected. 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 electorates 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, thereby, leading to poverty reduction and wellbeing of the people. Madam Hafsatu Sey Sumani, Head of Programme and Policy at the NORSAAC, underscored the need for stakeholders to be interested and concerned about the local governance referendum and urged them to intensify education on the referendum to members 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. GNA]]>

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