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Opinions Thu, 29 Aug 2013

Electing DCEs will help lessen tensions in Ghana

By Kofi Thompson

The winner-takes-all nature of our system, is a source of tension in Ghanaian society.

Luckily, it appears that many members of our political class have now come to the realisation that it is not in the national interest that the political party whose presidential candidate emerges victorious in presidential elections, hogs all the benefits of being in power in Ghana.

Clearly, a majority of ordinary Ghanaians have also come to the conclusion that as things currently stand, it is the nation's educated urban elites, who invariably benefit from every expansion of the national economy.

If ordinary people, especially those living in rural Ghana, are to feel that the system benefits them too, then a coinciding of interests could help create a fairer political system, were District Chief Executives (DCE) to be elected on a party political basis.

For, if District Chief Executives were elected, the needs of ordinary people, not what benefits those at the centre of power in Accra, would always be taken into account by the elected District Chief Executives in charge of districts across the country.

There would be many other benefits to our nation and its people too, were grassroots-level democracy to finally emerge in Ghana.

For a start, there would eventually emerge a large pool of experienced elected politicians, with proven track records of visible achievements on the ground, from which ministerial appointments at the national level, could be made by serving Presidents.

District Chief Executives elected by local people in districts nationwide, would focus exclusively on improving the quality of life of the people who live in those districts - who in turn would finally have the opportunity to influence those who control their districts' affairs.

Competition amongst District Chief Executives, from different political parties, will help quicken the pace of development at the local level, throughout rural Ghana.

Above all, it would enable political parties in the opposition to show Ghanaians what they are capable of achieving for the nation, if they were given the mandate to rule Ghana at the national level.

The argument that from a security standpoint, it would not be prudent to share intelligence and security briefings with a District Chief Executive belonging to the opposition, is a curious one.

The question we must ask those who make that argument is: Are District Chief Executives not Ghanaians too - and are they not capable of being as patriotic as any of their fellow citizens? Love of country does not cease because the political party one supports is not in power.

Belonging to a political party in opposition to the ruling party, does not make one an enemy of the Republic of Ghana. And we must never infer that that is the case.

And, surely, the security agencies exist solely to protect the national interest - not to help hide dirty secrets that ruling regimes want hidden from those who elect them to power?

Electing District Chief Executives will help deepen Ghanaian democracy - and make the opposition parties feel that they also have a stake in Ghana. That would definitely help lessen tensions considerably in our country.

Columnist: Kofi Thompson