A local government analyst, Professor Kwamena Ahwoi has downplayed calls for Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCE) to be elected saying it will further deepen disunity at the grassroots.
Speaking at the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) forum on assessing the effectiveness of the district assembly concept, the former local government and rural development minister believes electing the MMDCEs will be detrimental to the development of the country.
“Since those DCEs would like to unseat the government for their party to come to power, it will be difficult for any partisan government to implement its programs through hostile DCEs,” Prof Ahwoi warned.
Currently, the president nominates a candidate who would have to secure the approval of two thirds of assembly members to be confirmed.
There is, however, a huge clamor from various quarters for these MMDCEs to be elected to make them more responsive to the local people.
Meanwhile, a report released by NCCE has revealed that over 69 percent of Ghanaians want MMDCEs elected.
The report, “Assessing the Effectiveness of District Assemblies in Ghana’s Democracy,” also found that over 60 percent of the respondents think the current district assembly system is partisan,” a situation they believe is contrary to the provisions of the constitution.
The survey which was carried out in September 2014 covered 72 districts with 2,910 respondents.
Other submissions called for the election of MMDCEs by universal adult suffrage.
These were captured in the final report of the Constitutional Review Commission, which said:
a. Article 243(1) of the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana. “It is important that the districts, which are responsible for the development of all our communities, be headed by persons who are legitimate and trusted by the people in those communities. This can only be achieved if the Constitution allows the popular election of MMDCEs.
b. An elected MMDCE will be more responsive and accountable to the people.
c. Popular election of MMDCEs would make for the total democratization of the local government system.
d. The functions of an MMDCE as enshrined in the Constitution make the position critical to local development. This means that the selection of a person to fill such a position should not be left to an electoral college. Although unelected by universal adult suffrage, the MMDCE performs functions, such as presiding at meetings of the Executive Committee of the MMDA, managing the day-to-day performance of the executive and administrative functions of the MMDA, and acting as the chief representative of the central government in the district. Additionally, the MMDCE is the Chairman of the District Security Committee, which makes him responsible to the National Security Coordinator. Only an elected official should perform all of these functions.
e. Elections will create the platform for competent persons to stand for elections as MMDCE.
f. An elected MMDCE would have the confidence and security of tenure necessary to insist on long-term local development when this is sought to be sacrificed by the centre for short-term and parochial interests.
g. Popular elections of MMDCEs would reduce the incidents of having very unpopular candidates selected as MMDCEs by the assemblies and remove, or at least, minimise the alleged corruption that accompanies the approval of nominees by assemblies.