CSOs call for reforms in Ghana’s local governance system

Pro-Governance Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have called for urgent reforms in Ghana’s local governance structure to be in line with modern democratic and good governance principles.

They said with the changing dynamics of governance and the growing demand for improved democracy, local government reforms would help to well-position Ghana’s electoral system as well as serve the local people better.

Dr. Esther Ofei-Aboagye, Member of the Technical Advisory Committee of the Coalition of CSOs on Local Government, who made the call in Accra at a day’s media consultation forum, noted that in 2019, the New Patriotic Party Government offered Ghanaians the opportunity to discuss and vote in a referendum to amend the necessary constitutional provisions that would pave the way for major reforms in Ghana’s local governance.

“However, the proposal was withdrawn and all preparations towards the referendum were cancelled due to lack of consensus among the major political parties.

“The agenda that sought to amend Article 243 (1) of Ghana’s constitution to allow for the election of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) and Article 55 (3) to allow for the introduction of multi-party competition in local government elections has been touted as the panacea to reduce major local government challenges as advocated by local government champions.”

“It is for this reason that the Coalition of CSOs on Local Government reforms led by CDD-Ghana and the Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG) are undertaking a number of activities to reset the agenda for election of MMDCEs and to advocate for comprehensive local government reforms.

“The partners are emboldened in their resolve to ignite this conversation also because, despite the lack of consensus that led to the withdrawal of the referendum question, all political parties in Ghana have still shown interest to change the mode of selecting MMDCEs for Ghana,” she said.

Mr. Paul Osei-Kuffour, Programmes Manager, CDD-Ghana, said CDD-Ghana in October 20, 2020, reintroduced a conversation intended to feed into the national discourse and policy decisions on the renewed agenda for local government reforms.

He said the one-day workshop with like-minded Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), leaders and individuals, including local government experts had a consensus on a common position and associated areas of reforms that could make local governance system responsive to development outcomes.

“Again, CDD-Ghana agreed to mobilise CSOs to form a Coalition to advocate for local government reforms from a common position, an opportunity that was missed prior to the truncated 2019 referendum.

“CDD-Ghanasalong with its partners sought to conduct nationwide regional level consultation in all 16 regions with identifiable key stakeholders such as traditional leaders, political parties, the media and Community Based Organizations (CBos) to gain additional insight from the various groups about their perspective, interests and position and also derive possible proposals for policy consideration that can feed into the ongoing discourse on local government reforms,” he said.

Mr. Osei-Kuffour said the collated views would be carefully documented and used for advocacy, and to prepare a policy advice to government, through the Minister of Decentralisation, Local Government and Rural Development to inform policy decisions on the subject.

He noted that at the various regional level consultations, CDD-Ghana would present the findings of its local government survey to open discussions with participants and interrogate the reasons underpinning the preferences of citizens.

“This is an attempt to steer the conversation beyond the election of MMDCEs into the realm of finding workable reforms that have the potential of turning around Ghana’s local government system around to be able to deliver development outcomes,” he said.

Mr. Kwesi Jonah, a Senior Research Fellow, IDEG, said local government was important to the people than to the central government and that the exercise was designed to help reform Ghana’s local government system to serve better.

“We have listened very carefully to you and your suggestions will be taken into consideration… we have peaked your knowledge on local government, go on a crusade to project the assembly level and improve your journalistic understanding,” he said.

In all, about 30 media practitioners were engaged in the forum, which discussions centred on checks and balance, monetisation of politics, administration of towns, cities, counties and districts, women participation in governance, town meeting and common funds.

Ghana has practised local governance since the colonial era. The country’s local government administration has gone through several modifications across various regimes, including military governments.

Source: GNA

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