Mr Kwasi Adjei-Boateng, a Deputy Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, has lauded STAR Ghana Foundation for its commitment and tenacity in building a niche and respected brand within the governance landscape of Ghana.
“With almost a decade of working in Ghana, you have focused among other things on service delivery, popular participation, promotion of gender equity and inclusion of the vulnerable in the local governance discourse,” Mr Adjei-Boateng at STAR Ghana Local Governance Grant Partners’ Learning Event in Accra.
“You have truly worked to contribute to empowering good governance in transforming lives by providing a platform and vehicle for stakeholders to get involved in governance,” he said.
He commended Star Ghana for the support to local partners implementing projects in thematic areas on accountable local governance and citizens’ engagement.
STAR Ghana Foundation is a civil society strengthening mechanism focusing ultimately on empowering citizens to engage with the state to ensure accountable, transparent and responsive governance at local and national level.
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.
Mr Adjei-Boateng said the local governance system in Ghana was designed to promote people centred development and governance; and “this is the foundation for social inclusion of the people for whom we initiate interventions to improve their lives.”
He said it was important to recall that since the inception of the current decentralisation and local government process, various efforts had been made to devolved functions, powers, competences, skills and resources to district assemblies.
He noted that in spite of the successes chalked by the decentralisation process, there existed a number of challenges in promoting greater citizen participation in local governance processes.
He said these challenges include apathy from citizens on local governance issues, lack of basic understanding of the roles and responsibilities of key stakeholders, as well as lack of innovative strategies for a meaningful engagement of metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs).
“For instance, metropolitan, municipal and district chief executives (MMDCEs) have remained nominated by the President, approved by two-thirds majority votes of the assembly and subsequently appointed by the President.”
He said certainly, the need for a change in the mode of appointing MMDCEs had been identified as a governance gap in Ghana’s local governance system.
He said allowing citizens to popularly elect their own leaders in Ghana was long overdue, as the current mode of appointing MMDCEs had not provided the accountability that the people yearned for.
He said in order to deepen accountability and bring governance to the people; the government was taking steps to have MMDCEs elected; strengthen the sub-structures of the assemblies and the role of traditional authorities in local governance.
With regard to electing MMDCEs on partisan basis, Mr Adjei-Boateng said it would among others promote local democracy by affording local people the opportunity to choose their own leaders.
He said it would make the MMDCES be more responsive and directly accountable to their people.
He noted that empowering good governance and transforming lives through popular participation in local governance was key for inclusive development.
Dr Esther Ofei-Aboagye, Governing Council Chair, STAR Ghana Foundation, said these 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.
“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.