The National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) will today launch an education and awareness-raising campaign on the upcoming district level election and referendum aimed at electing assembly members on a partisan basis.
The Chairperson of the NCCE, Ms Josephine Nkrumah, who disclosed this to the Daily Graphic in an interview, said it had become necessary for the NCCE to roll out the important programme to enable it to correct the perception in the media that Ghanaians were going to a referendum to elect Metropolitan Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs).
‘‘That is not what we are going to do. We are going to the referendum to determine whether to amend article 55 clause (3) which is an entrenched provision in the 1992 Constitution which bars political parties from participating in district level elections,” she added.
Making a determination
‘‘Currently, article 55 clause (3) of the 1992 Constitution does not permit multi-partisan politics at the district level but we are going to the ballot in November to determine whether we as a people want to see partisan politics taking place in district level elections or not. So it is up to us Ghanaians to determine that,” she explained.
She said the educational campaign, which was to whip up interest in the participation and more importantly for the citizenry to turn out massively to vote for assembly members, unit committee members, and the referendum, was in collaboration with the Electoral Commission (EC), Information Services Department (ISD), and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), and was being funded by the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development.
Ms Nkrumah explained that to be able to amend article 55 clause (3), 40 per cent of eligible voters should turn out, and out of the 40 per cent votes, 75 per cent of the votes must be in favour.
She added; ‘‘So if Ghanaians vote in favour, it means in the next elections, we will vote for MMDCEs. That is to say, the people of Ghana have agreed to bring multi-party politics to the district level.”
She said there was a history to the perception of Ghanaians leaning more in favour of the election of MMDCEs.
That, according to her, was because in 2015, the NCCE conducted a research on the effectiveness of district assemblies and it turned out that 69.4 per cent of Ghanaians said they would prefer the election of MMDCEs while 90.3 per cent of Ghanaians said they were aware that the MMDCEs were appointed by the President of Ghana.
Again, based on the report of the Constitution Review Commission, it was established on pages 480 and 481 of submissions received that; ‘‘The Commission received a decent number of submissions that called for the retention of the current state of the law on the appointment of MMDCEs. Proponents of the view argued that the
President should continue to nominate MMDCEs for confirmation by the assembly, by a two-thirds majority vote.’’
That argument, according to her, is supported by other reasons such as MMDCEs are required to be accountable and responsible to both the local electorate and the central government, sometimes leading to a situation of divided loyalties.
‘‘But other submissions called for the election of MMDCEs by universal adult suffrage and some of the reasons were that an elected MMDCE would be more responsive and accountable to the people and that popular election of MMDCEs would make for the total democratisation of the local government system,” Miss Nkrumah said.
‘‘In addition to this, the election would also create the platform for competent persons to stand for elections as MMDCE,’’ she explained.
Ms Nkrumah remarked; ‘‘So the commission has a big task ahead to let Ghanaians understand the issue at stake and to decide on which path to take as citizens.