The National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) is upbeat that Ghana would achieve more than the mandatory 40 per cent voter turn-out in the upcoming December 17 District Level Elections (DLES) and referendum.
A constitutional requirement of 40 per cent votes from qualified voters out of which 75 per cent must vote “yes” in favour of the referendum, is critical to make the amendment of Article 55 (3) of the 1992 Constitution, a possibility.
Ms Josephine Nkrumah, the Chairperson for the Commission, said Article 55(3), an entrenched part of the Ghanaian Constitution, which hitherto barred political parties from participating in district assembly elections, is needed to be amended in a referendum, to pave way for a multi-partisan local government system in the country.
Speaking at the Ashanti Regional launch of citizens’ education and awareness raising campaign on the 2019 DLES and referendum in Kumasi, she said, the District Level Elections is one of the most important polls for participatory democracy in the country adding that efforts are being made by the NCCE to ensure massive participation and success.
These steps in the form of massive public sensitization, include regional launches, community durbars, stakeholder meetings, focus group discussion, film shows, dawn and dusk broadcast, field visits to identifiable groups, interpersonal engagements and awareness raising event at schools.
The Commission, she said, is partnering with the Information Services Department (ISD), the Electoral Commission (EC) and the Ministry for Local Government and Rural Development to ensure that the awareness creation effort reached the doorstep of every Ghanaian.
The Chairperson said it is refreshing that all the major political parties have also indicated their support for this paradigm shift which meant they will be galvanizing supporters to come out and vote, describing the situation as “an all-hands on deck approach”.
She urged registered voters, especially first timers to come to vote for its success and called on the media to support the sensitization effort.
Madam Elizabeth Agyemang, the Deputy Ashanti Regional Minister, commended the NCCE, ISD, EC and the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development for collectively organizing this educational platform.
She said as a nation with a growing democracy, the move would give the general public a broad understanding to “enable us in the regions appreciate the need for the referendum and constitutional amendments on local elections”.
She expressed worry over the low voter turn-out in past years at district level elections, saying it has been quite disturbing for the democratic growth process.
Madam Agyemang called for the need for sustained engagements by all stakeholders to whip up public interest and further mobilize the citizenry towards attaining higher voter turn-out.
The Ashanti Regional NCCE educational launch is the first national event and it brought together local government actors, Muslim and Christian clerics, opposition political party representatives, corporate heads and students.