The President of National Association of Local Authorities of Ghana (NALAG), Bismark Baise Nkum, has stated emphatically that the December 17 Referendum is not going to pave way for the election of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives contrary to widely held public perception.
“Let me use this opportunity to clear a certain misconception that the referendum is meant to open the way for the election of MMDCEs. This is far from the truth.”
He said “if we get a Yes vote on Article 55 (3) and Parliament fails to amend 243 (1), it means that District Chief Executives will still be appointed by the President. If we get No vote at the Referendum and Parliament amends Article 243(1), it means that MMDCEs will be elected through universal adult suffrage but not on partisan bases”.
He cautioned that it will be chaotic if ‘No’ vote wins but Parliament amends 243(1) “we are likely to have multiple candidates on the ballot which will add up to already escalating cost of our public election”.
According to him, Article 243(1) of the 1992 Constitution empowers the President to appoint District Chief Executives and before the appointed person qualifies to work as DCE, his/her appointment must receive prior approval of not less than two-thirds majority of members of the Assembly present and voting.
Adding that, the December 17, referendum questions are not on article 243(1) but rather on 55(3) .
“I acknowledge and I am happy that the President wishes to relinquish his power under Article 243(1) but that is for Parliament to decide not at the referendum. Article 243(1) is not an entrenched provision and it is only Parliament that has the power to amend by way of two-third decision”
This was contained in a speech read on his behalf by the Second Vice-Chairperson of NALAG, Evelyn Dansoa Boateng, in Koforidua during a sensitization and stakeholder Engagement jointly organized by the National Association of Local Government (NALAG) and Inter-Ministerial coordinating Committee on Decentralization (IMCC).
He said the two dominant parties in Ghana – NDC and NPP have always politicized District Assembly elections at the blind side of Ghanaians, therefore” the referendum is only meant to give validity to the illegality perpetuated all these while”.
A Local government expert, George Kyei Barfuor has blamed the Metropolitan, Municipal, and District Chief Executives as well as the Electoral Commission and Parliament for the low awareness on the December 17 Referendum.
He said some MMDCEs are apathetic about the process hence reluctant to support the campaign with seriousness.
The Electoral Commission and National Commission on Civic Education, he said, are also not living up to expectations in terms of sensitization and providing clarity on the referendum.
With barely a month left for the December 17 referendum, education and awareness seem to be low as only 42% of the Ghanaian electorate are aware of the exercise
The findings were contained in the latest Afrobarometer Round 8 report released by the Centre for Democratic Governance on Tuesday.
Mr. Kyei Barfuor who is a former President of NALAG agrees to the report also blamed the delay by Parliament in reviewing Article 243(1 ) of the 1992 constitution as a contributory factor to the lethargic view of the electorates fearing it may affect the turnout of the election which he described as crucial to enhancement participatory governance and envisage to also bring to an end agitations surrounding nominations of MMDCEs.
Meanwhile, some chiefs and Assembly Members who participated in the stakeholders’ engagement lamented the confusion surrounding the Referendum with a clarion call on stakeholders to intensify public education.