Hajia Alima Mahama, the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, says the election of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) on partisan basis would be a key solution to the ‘winner takes all’ syndrome plaguing Ghana’s democratic environment.
She stated that the practice where ruling party had the privilege to nominate MMDCEs would end; making way for inclusive governance with all political parties enjoying a level playing field to present a candidate for election on a universal adult suffrage basis.
Hajia Mahama said this at a meeting to sensitise and create a better understanding on the election processes among the representatives of the various political parties, on Monday in Accra.
The forum on the theme, “Electing MMDCEs for Improved Local Decentralisation and Good Governance”, was also used to discuss the proposed national road roadmap for the elections, expected to take off on 2021.
The Minister, however, explained: “Although this is not the only solution to completely solve ‘winner takes-all’ syndrome; with this system, when a Party wins an election, the President will not have to appoint the MMDCEs.
“Definitely, some MMDCEs seat will be occupied by the opposition parties and this will deepen the democracy and bring inclusiveness”.
Hajia Mahama said the Ministry had consulted all key stakeholders on the best possible ways of having local leaders elected on partisan basis.
The only obstacle, she said, was working with the key institutions to work on the amendment of article 55(3) of the 1992 constitution.
The article, which is an entrenched article, states that, “Subject to the provisions of this article, a political party is free to participate in shaping the political will of the people, to disseminate information on political ideas, social and economic programmes of a national character; and sponsor candidates for election to any public office other than to the District Assemblies or lower local government units.”
Hajia Mahama said an amendment to this article was critical if MMDCEs would be elected on partisan basis through a universal adult suffrage system.
“As an entrenched Article, a national Referendum is required for it to be amended,” she explained.
“A draft Bill for amendment of the article has been approved by Cabinet and sent to the Speaker of Parliament who has sent it to the Council of State for advice. The Council of State has given its advice and the Attorney General has since gazetted the Bill”.
She said that the Ministry was collaborating with key institutions including the Electoral Commission and the National Commission for Civic Education to ensure that the public was adequately sensitised to ensure a successful referendum in September 2019, alongside the District Assemblies election.
The other institutions include the Parliamentary Select Committee on Local Government, Information Services Department as well as Civil Society Organisations.
Hajia Mahama mentioned that another area of institutional strengthening aimed at consolidating democratic governance was the implementation of the National Public Sector Reform Strategy (NPSRS 2018 – 2023).
Dr Eric Oduro Osae, Dean of Studies and Research at the Institute of Local Government Studies, also said the election of MMDCEs on partisan basis would help reduce the winner-takes all situation because no Political Party could win all the seats.
“The opposition will use the Local Government as a training ground to inform people what they would have done if they won elections,” he said.
“It would also provide the Government with alternatives ideas to reshape their policies because democracy thrives on opposition”
If the Government was able to implement the intended policy, he said, it would stop acrimonies in elections because political parties would have another opportunity in that of the MMDCEs to be in government.