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General News Fri, 29 May 2009

Conflicts stagnating Ghana's decentralization process

Accra, May 29, GNA - Ghana's local governance system has been stagnated by conflicts, acrimony and partisan considerations among District, Municipal and Metropolitan Chief Executives (DMMCEs), and Assembly Members and Members of Parliament (MPs).

Professor Emmanuel Gyimah-Boadi, Executive Director of Ghana Centre for Democratic Governance (CDD-Ghana), who made the observation, said "Partisan politics has intruded and disintegrated the decentralisation process at the local level, making consensus building very difficult". He was speaking at a symposium, jointly organised by the CDD-Ghana and the Canadian High Commission on the topic: "Reflection on Ghana's Decentralisation Programme: Progress, Stagnation or Retrogression", in Accra on Thursday.

Prof. Gyimah-Boadi said the performance of local government in the early days of Ghana's independence made monumental gains than the present system that feigned non-partisan political system but burbled with party politics.

He cited that the 30 percent government appointees to the District Assembly, according to the Local Government Act, should be technocrats and expects but surveys conducted by CDD-Ghana in 2005 and 2007, revealed that most of the appointees were political activists. Prof. Gyimah-Boadi said even though local government units were given some autonomy over finance, control from the central government had taken away that power from the local people.

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"They do not have the capacity to manage their finance, even the District Assembly Common Fund is controlled by the central government". Prof. Gyimah-Boadi said local government policy in Ghana had brought developments since its inception in 1988 but the situation was aggravated by the total hegemony exercised by central government.

He said according to Model Standing Order 16 of the District Assembly, an assembly could either choose to vet a candidate nominated by the President for the position of DCE or the assembly could constitute ad hoc vetting committee to vet the candidate.

Prof. Gyimah-Boadi said that this rule had not been followed over the years adding that district assemblies were expected to approve or disapprove the President's nominee depending on what the local people needed. He said if a first and second balloting failed to gain two thirds votes of the members of the assembly, the candidate must be withdrawn for a new nomination to be made but over the years this rule had been compromised.

Source: GNA
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