If all goes as planned, the next batch of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) will be popularly elected on multi-partisan basis in June/July 2021 when the term of office of the current MMDCEs expires.
Hajia Alima Mahama, the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, announced this on Thursday in Accra at the launch of the 70th Annual New Year School and Conference (ANYSC).
“It is my expectation that the New Year School will spend some time on this to seek a ‘Yes’ vote for this significant decentralisation milestone to consolidate our democratic governance.”
The election of MMDCEs was one of the promises in the New Patriotic Party’s (NPP) 2016 manifesto.
The 2019 edition of the ANYSC is slated for January 14th to 17th.
It is being organised by the School of Continuing and Distance Education, College of Education, University of Ghana, under the theme: “Building Strong Institutions for Democratic Consolidation in Ghana”.
The ANYSC was introduced in 1948, and brings together people from all walks of life to deliberate on topical issues of national and international interest.
Hajia Mahama said the Government through her Ministry was rolling out a programme to have MMDCEs elected on a universal adult suffrage basis.
To this end, the Ministry has developed a national roadmap which is under implementation to have MMDCEs elected in 2021.
She said the Ministry has consulted all key stakeholders in the country on the best possible ways of having local leaders elected on partisan basis.
The Minister said the only obstacle which the roadmap was working with key institutions to clear is 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 is 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. As 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 gazzetted the Bill,” she stated.
She said the Constitution requires six months to elapse after the gazetting process before the Referendum.
She said that the Ministry was collaborating with key institutions including the Electoral Commission, National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) and the Parliamentary Select Committee on Local Government, Information Services Department and Civil Society Organisations to ensure that the public was adequately sensitised to have a successful referendum in September 2019 alongside the District Assemblies election.
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).
The NPSRS centres on three principles: A new direction of the purpose, building the capacity of personnel who drive the public service and streamlining processes.
Professor Olivia Kwapong, Acting Dean, School of Distance and Continuing Education, University of Ghana, gave a historical perspective of the ANYSC.
She said the New Year School has been one of the most regular and popular annual educational programmes in Ghana.
She said the School has served as a national forum for dispassionate discussion of issues by citizenry and resolutions from the School were presented in a communique for implementation.
Dr Evans Aggrey-Darkoh, the Acting Chief Director, Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, said the theme for the 2019 ANYSC was not only appropriate but timely as Ghana continues to nurture enduring institutions that would make democracy the only game in town.
He said the theme was also consistent with Goal 16 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions.
Dr Aggrey-Darkoh said: “Political institutions determine both the constraints and incentives faced by key players in a given society”.
“Appropriately chosen and designed institutions can help the development of credible mechanisms capable of reducing the risks of opportunistic behaviour of political and economic players.”
Prof Jonathan Fletcher, Acting Provost, College of Humanities, University of Ghana, who chaired the launch, said the theme for the 2019 was apt and timely, particularly at a time when the country needs to build strong institutions to consolidate its democratic credentials and good governance.
He said the University of Ghana has positioned itself in educating the youth, training new entrants into the world of work, and continuously educating and retraining those already in the work force for the acquisition of new knowledge and appropriate skills.