The Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Hajia Alima Mahama, has bemoaned the criticisms targeted at the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government over suggestions that the election of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) might be delayed until 2021.
Speaking on Eyewitness News on Wednesday, Alima Mahama insisted that the government deserved to be commended instead for initiating the processes for the election of MMDCEs.
President Akufo-Addo, then a candidate in 2016, promised that MMDCEs will be elected.
Although timelines were not very specific, he said the current group of MMDCEs would be the last to be elected; thus before 2020.
However, the Minister stated that since assuming office, President Akufo-Addo has amended the promise, stating that the elections will be held on a partisan basis.
This, the Minister said meant that a referendum would be needed to amend certain parts of the constitution covering the appointment of MMDCEs.
According to Hajia Mahama, it would be considered “an achievement” for the government if the referendum is held before the end of its first term in office.
“In the manifesto of the NPP, we indicated that we would elect MMDCEs. Having won the election, the president had further directed that it should be on partisan basis. These two things mean different things, If we were just electing, we would just amend the Article 242 and 243 that affects the nomination and approval of MMDCEs. Doing it on partisan basis now takes us back to Article 63 (3) that must be amended and it’s an entrenched clause which has to go through a referendum. We are looking at having this amendment done within 2020, and if they are done four months to the elections, we can’t hold the elections for the MMDCEs and the National elections at the same time. Our constitution says they must be set apart.”
“So we are putting it at 2021. For me, if we are able to do the referendum, that is a key delivery, that is a key point and it’s an achievement. That alone sends out a message that the president knows what he’s saying,” she said.
The Minister stated that the fact that the government had even started the processes for the amendment of the clause that would see the MMDCEs elected should be lauded, and be seen as an indication of government’s commitment to following through on its promises.
“This is a government that said we would do a number of things and we’re delivering on them. It’s not a government that said we’d do something and then we would run away from our promises. It’s wrong to say that we’re running away from our promise. We’ve started the processes and you should be applauding us for starting the processes.”
‘Nduom is not in government’
The Founder and leader of the Progressive People’s Party (PPP), Dr. Papa Kwesi Ndoum, recently lashed out at the Akufo-Addo government for postponing the implementation of a manifesto promise to ensure that MMDCEs are elected.
Addressing the press on the matter, Dr. Ndoum said government’s U-turn is a dent on its credibility.
However, Alima Mahama believes that while he reserves his right to comment on the development, the former Energy Minister under the Kufuor administration has not run a government before, suggesting that he might not fully understand the process.
She added a lot of work needed to be done behind the scenes before an election could take place.
“Dr. Nduom has the comfort of sitting in his house or his luxurious office and say whatever he wants to say, but we are in government, he has not run a government. We are pursuing things in due process. We can’t just drop everything and say we are electing MMDCEs.”
“First of all, we need buy-in, we are talking to people and getting their views. I’ve been travelling the length and breadth of the country and engaging people. That alone shows that we are working.”