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IDEG advocates reforms to make local governance inclusive

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Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG)
Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG)

The Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG) has proposed wide-ranging reforms to help to address “exclusion” in the local governance system.

The Institute said the local governance system “is not working” and marginalises the youth, women, persons with disabilities (PWDs), and political parties.

To address the situation, it advocated what it termed as the ‘Mixed Member Proportional Representation’ system that would set aside an agreed percentage of seats at the local government level for specifically the youth, women, and PWDs.

At a workshop on the Strategic Role of the Youth in Constitutional Amendment on Tuesday, IDEG supported the proposal for the involvement of political parties in local level elections, saying the move would deepen accountability and enhance development at the local government level.

With the Constitution barring chiefs from participating in political activities, IDEG also proposed the establishment of a Council on Local Development and Governance, where all chiefs would be represented and would work with local assemblies to champion development in their jurisdictions.

Professor Kwesi Jonah, a Senior Research Fellow at IDEG, said the marginalisation of the youth in local governance “is more serious” and added that the work of the Assemblies “will be richer if the ideas of the youth are taken on board”.

He said out of 100 elected Assembly Members, only six of them were women, a situation he described as worrying for a democratic society.

Prof. Jonah said the ‘Mixed Member Proportional Representation’ system, if approved by Parliament, would help ensure fair representation of marginalised groups in leadership and decision making at the local level.

“The proportion should be fixed even before the elections…a good local government system provides for a proportion of the seats for PWDs, youth, women and all those that have been excluded to be brought back,” he said.

Dr Emmanuel O. Akwetey, the Executive Director, IDEG, said it was essential for the people to be given the power to elect their own MMDCEs, adding that political parties should be allowed to participate in elections at the local level.

He said the amendment of Article 243 (1) and 55(3) of the 1992 Constitution should be treated together and emphasised the need for consensus on the latter provision to trigger the required constitutional reforms.

“The participation of the political parties in elections at the local level will help to strengthen our institutions and deepen accountability,” Dr Akwetey said.
Article 55(3) of the 1992 Constitution, which is an entrenched clause, prohibits the inclusion of party politics in local governance.

A planned referendum to amend that portion of the Constitution was aborted in 2019 due to the lack of consensus among key stakeholders on the involvement of political parties in elections at the local level.

The Ministry of Local Government, Decentralisation, and Rural Development, has commenced engagements with key stakeholders in a bid to build consensus on the matter.
During an interactive session, some of the youth participants called for a review of the 40 years age limit criteria for one to be qualified to contest as President of the country.

They also appealed to political parties and the Electoral Commission to reduce the filing fees for young people who intend to participate in elections.

“The advocacy should be stronger so that more youth will take part in local level elections” Mr. Peter Mensah, the President of the Graduate Students Association, University of Ghana, said.

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