Ghanaians have been urged to see the upcoming referendum on the election of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) as a window of opportunity to democratise the local governance system.
Dr Eric Osae, the Technical Adviser, Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development said the election of MMDCEs would go a long way to deepen local governance system in Ghana.
“The election of MMDCEs has been overshadowed by the referendum. The referendum is to ensure that we fully democratise the local governance system.
“So, the agenda is to fully democratise the local governance system,” Dr Osae remarked on Tuesday at the STAR Ghana Local Governance Grant Partners’ Learning Event in Accra.
The two-day Learning Event was formally opened by Mr Kwasi Adjei-Boateng, a Deputy Minister of Local Government and Rural Development.
The overall objective of the Learning Event was to create a platform for learning and sharing among stakeholders in the local governance space to the effectiveness of stakeholders’ actions.
Dr Osae said the process for the election of the MMDCEs would start with the amendment of article 55 (3) of the constitution, after which the rest could follow.
“The election of MMDCEs is to ensure that you hold them accountable, create a space for citizens to hold those who manage their resources directly accountable; rather than holding the centre accountable,” Dr Osae said.
“This is not to say that the Chief Executives will be the only people to bring development to you, but the Chief Executive in addition to others will bring more development to you. And you will have a lot more people to hold accountable,” he said.
He said there were a lot of things changing in the local governance sector with speed; stating that at the moment, there were enough changes or reforms ongoing in the physical decentralisation sector.
He said the inter-governmental physical framework, which regulated the relationship between and among the various functionaries within the physical decentralisation space was being reviewed.
He noted that the current national decentralisation policy and action plan was expiring this year; and that a reviewed had been undertaken.
He said findings of the review report would inform the development of a new decentralisation policy that would run from 2020 to 2024.
The Technical Adviser noted that there were enough changes also on-going in the planning sector.
Mr Adjei-Boateng lauded STAR Ghana Foundation for its commitment and tenacity in building a niche and respected brand within the governance landscape of Ghana.
Dr Abdulai Dramani, the Director, Institute of Local Government Service in his presentation “State of Local Governance and Active Citizenship in Ghana”, noted that the said theme recognised local governance as an end in itself and as a means towards citizenship culture.
“As an end, local governance gives citizens many civic rights; it gives also many obligations, responsibilities and privileges. If you have a district capital located in your village, it is a privilege,” he said.
“But local governance is seen as a means, in the sense that it is a channel for the transmission of effective and efficient services and forms of development which is sustainable and serves the needs of the local people,” he said.
Dr Esther Ofei-Aboagye, Governing Council Chair, STAR Ghana Foundation said the Learning Events were intended to provide civil society organisations and their partners the space and the opportunity to share their learning, achievements, hopes and fears.
She said; “They are intended to help us identify commonality in practice, gather issues for our collective advocacy and research and our communications agendas”.
Madam Teiko Sabah, Head of Programmes, STAR Ghana Foundation, said the Learning Event brings together all of STAR Ghana’s local governance grant partners to harness lessons learnt and share their wealth of experience after almost one year of implementation.