The Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG), a civil society organisation, says as the nation prepares for the December polls, there is the need for political parties to show enough commitment to continue with the constitutional amendment process.
It observed that the current local government system cannot guarantee and sustain the country’s multi-party democracy; therefore any political party that formed the next government must implement the recommendations of the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC).
Addressing a stakeholders’ forum in Takoradi organised by IDEG and the Civic Forum Initiative (CFI), Dr Kwesi Jonah, a Senior Research Fellow at IDEG, said there is an urgent need for local government reforms after practicing the local government system for almost 30 years.
He said the current presidential system where “the winner-takes-all” is problematic hence the need for the direct election of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMCEs) on the ticket of political parties.
This, Dr Jonah said, would improve inclusive representation and enable the country to realise the essentials of good governance and help accelerate national development.
The event was held on the theme: “Democratic Devolution: Strengthening Democratic Development through Multiparty-based Local Government” which brought together traditional rulers, technocrats, civil society organisations, youth groups and Persons with Disability to mobilize public support for local government reforms.
Dr Jonah said since the country started practicing the local government system in 1988, there had been some benefits, however, there is the need to make some reforms to respond to some social facts and realities.
He said a critical examination of the country’s multi-party democracy where the local government system was non-partisan but the election of central government representatives was based on partisan-politics makes the governance very difficult.
He said IDEG and CFI have made some proposals comprising the need for the election of MMCEs on party lines, scraping of the 30 percent appointment of assembly members to the local government level, the introduction of proportional representation to the local government level in order to enhance women’s participation and the overall inclusiveness, as well as increasing the Common Fund allocation from 7.5 percent of the country’s total annual revenues to 15 percent.
“If the political parties are allowed to participate in the district level elections, it would reduce the apathy that is often associated with the local government elections because the parties would mobilize resources for the campaign,” he said.
Dr Peter Atudiwe Atupare, a Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Law at the University of Ghana, said elections in Ghana have been characterised by electoral violence and acrimony because the competing political parties view the election as “do-and-die affair” because of the “winner-takes-all” system.
Therefore, he said, there was a moral and political obligation for any party that takes the reins of government to bring the constitutional amendment process to a closure by implementing the recommendations of the CRC.
Some of the participants suggested that the electoral areas should be merged in order to reduce the number of assembly members and also institute payment structure for them so that more qualified persons could contest the district level elections.