Mr Kwesi Jonah, a Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Democratic Governance has called for a broader national dialogue on the election of Metropolitan, Municipal, and District Chief Executives (MMDCES) on party bases.
He said the referendum to amend Article 55(3) suffered a setback because of lack of consensus from the political parties.
President Akufo-Addo on October 25, 2021, pledged to revisit the referendum to amend Article 55 (3) of the constitution to pave the way for the direct election of MMDCEs.
The referendum was expected to take place in 2019 but was suspended due to lack of consensus between the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP).
The NPP wanted political party-sponsored candidates to contest the election while the NDC wanted the election to be held without partisan politics.
Reacting to the President’s promise, the Governance Expert said ” it is a good idea for the President to reintroduce the issue especially with a focus on the election of MMDCES on party lines.”
“I personally supported the election on party basis because even though district elections are supposed to be conducted without politics, it was characterized by political activities”, he said.
He said the amendment of Article 55(3) of the Constitution would consolidate the country’s democratic credentials to experience something new and make amends if there were pitfalls.
Given a historical perspective, Mr Jonah said the provision in the 1992 Constitution excluded the election of MMDCE because the country was transitioning from a military regime to a multi-party government.
“We have tried this system for almost 30 years and it is necessary to make a paradigm shift and try something new for our local system of governance”.
Some argue that, paving the way for the election of MMDCES on political lines would monetise the system like the Presidential and Parliamentary elections.
Speaking to that assertion, Mr Jonah called for a regulatory body to moderate the behaviour of politicians as far as the financing of election campaigns was concerned to bring sanity into the system.
He stated that it was imperative for authorities to enforce the country’s laws on monetization during political elections to serve as lessons to potential offenders.
Mr Jonah proposed a public funding mechanism to strengthen the activities of political parties before and during elections.
He expressed worry about the country’s political governance system, where more emphasis was focused on strategizing to win elections than development.
A survey conducted by the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development from May 23 to June 3, 2021, revealed that more than seven in 10 Ghanaians, representing 76 per cent were in favour of the election of MMDCEs, while 20 per cent wanted them to be appointed by the President.
While over two-thirds of the respondents, representing 71 per cent, said they preferred MMDCEs elected on non-partisan election format similar to that used in local government councillors’ election, only 20 per cent opted for a partisan election format.
Reasons given for the preference for non-partisan election format for MMDCEs included, ensuring competent persons get elected, promotion of inclusivity or forestalling “winner takes all” challenges, prevention of partisan influences or conflicts and promotion of transparency and accountability.
Among those calling for a partisan election of MMDCEs, the majority believe the current format for local government election has been tainted by partisan influences and must be opened up to promote public interest in local elections.