The Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Hajia Alima Mahama, has called on the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), the Information Services Department, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), the media and other stakeholders to educate the public on the need to participate in the upcoming District Level Elections (DLEs) and referendum.
The District Level Elections and referendum, which is slated for December 17, 2019, affords Ghanaians the opportunity to elect their Municipal, Metropolitan, and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) and also decide whether or not to introduce multi-partisan elections at the
local level through the amendment of article 55(3) of the 1992 Constitution which states that “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 elections to any public office other than to District Assemblies or lower local government units”.
In an interview with the Daily Graphic after the “Launch of Citizen’s Education and Awareness Raising Campaign on the Upcoming District
Level Elections and Referendum” in Accra last Wednesday, the Minister, said she expected “75 per cent of Ghanaians to vote ‘Yes’ to the referendum to introduce a multi-party system of elections at the local level.”
Hajia Mahama said the decision to democratise the election of MMDCEs was informed by the popular opinion of Ghanaians.
“There has been research that proves that, 70 per cent of Ghanaians want their MMDCEs elected.
The Constitutional Review Commission noted that since the introduction of the 1992 Constitution, there had been incessant calls for a change in the manner of appointing MMDCEs in accordance with the new democratic dispensation.
Some have gone as far as to argue for a complete democratisation of the local governance system,” she stated.
The Director of Electoral Services at the Electoral Commission, Dr Serebour Quarcoo, lamented about the low turnout of voters during DLEs.
He noted that “since Ghana recorded the highest turnout of 59 per cent during the 1988/1989 DLEs, there has been apathy towards District Level Elections most of the time where citizens are not enthused to actively participate.”
Mr Quarcoo also mentioned the low level of women and Persons with Disabilities’ (PWDs) representation as a challenge facing DLEs.
“Past District Level Elections have shown that only a handful of women and PWDs are either selected or appointed to District Assemblies” he said
“One should know that it is imperative for any nation that wants to develop meaningfully to give more opportunities to women to help bring a balance and equity in their development, as well as the democratisation process” he added.
Call on Political Parties
Dr Serebour called on all political parties to ensure that “they abide by the rules of the game by not supporting, sponsoring or campaigning for any candidate.
Until there has been an amendment to article 55(3) of the Constitution”.
“Candidates must also be cautious not to infringe on the rules of the game by using party slogans, colours and symbols in their campaigns since they could have their nomination cancelled by the Electoral Commission” he added.
For their part, representatives of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), the Convention People’s Party (CPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) embraced the idea of citizens electing their MMDCEs.
They called on their members to actively participate in the upcoming referendum and DLEs.