Mixed Reaction To Appointment Of MMDCEs
WHETHER to appoint or elect metropolitan, municipal and district chief executives (MMDCEs) dominated a round-table inter-party discussion on local government at Akosombo.
While some of the participants did not see anything wrong with the President appointing MMDCEs since that would enable them to properly execute government programmes as representatives of the President, others were of the view that such political heads should be elected to make them accountable to the people who would either vote for their retention or otherwise.
After deliberating on the matter for more than half an hour, it was agreed that three or more persons should be nominated by the President for the people to decide their fate through the ballot box.
The round-table discussion with the theme “Twenty years of Decentralisation and the Assembly System of Local Governance in Ghana” was organised by the Institute of Local Government with financial support from GTZ of Germany.
It was to get the various political parties, academia and other stakeholders to brainstorm on various aspects of local government with the aim of strengthening it to ensure good governance.
In attendance were representatives of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), the main opposition group, the New Patriotic Party (NPP), the Peoples’ National Convention (PNC), the United Renaissance Party (URP), the Convention People’s Party (CPP) and the Democratic People’s Party (DPP).
Setting the ball rolling, the General Secretary of the PNC, Mr Bernard Monah, said it was wrong for the President to appoint MMDCEs since they would only be accountable to the President.
He argued that in such a situation, the MMDCEs would sing the swan song of the President to maintain their positions and disregard the welfare of the people they were expected to serve through the execution of good programmes and projects.
His argument was supported by the General Secretary of the CPP, Mr Kobina Greenstreet, who said MMDCEs usually became tin gods who sang the praises of the President when they were appointed by him and that if local government should have its real meaning, then such political heads must be elected to be accountable to the people who would either retain or vote them out at the end of their term, based on their performance.
The National Organiser of the NDC, Mr Samuel Ofosu Ampofo, who represented the party, came out strongly in favour of the President appointing MMDCEs with the explanation that such political heads who were not members of the ruling party could decide to either sabotage the government or threaten the security of the President.
“How can you have somebody from the opposing camp of the President to represent him at the metropolitan, municipal and district levels without that person sabotaging the government or engaging in activities that would not be in the interest of the President?” he asked.
A former Minister of State and member of the NDC, Mr Kwamena Ahwoi, who also believed that for now MMDCEs should be appointed, reminded the gathering about the confusion which nearly created a constitutional crisis about 15 years ago when the late Vice-President Arkaah from a different political party could not see eye to eye with the then government headed by President Rawlings.
“Let us ponder over this issue dispassionately so that we do not recommend anything that would be inimical to the state or the communities that would be headed by the MMDCEs”, Mr Ahwoi stated.
Another representative of the NDC, Mr Elvis Afriyie Ankrah, supported the idea of appointing MMDCEs and said although it had been enshrined in the NPP manifesto that such political heads should be elected, that party could not do so during its eight years of administration because that party realised that it was not feasible.
When it came to their turns, both Dr Kwasi Jonah of the Political Science Department of the University of Ghana, Legon and Mr Kwasi Afriyie-Badu of Kab Governance Consult said the ideal thing to do was to elect MMDCEs but judging by the cost involved and other problems inherent in Ghana’s electoral system, adding another group of prospective political heads for 170 metropolises, municipalities and districts to the process now would not be easy.
They, therefore, called for a gradual process during which all the bottlenecks associated with the electoral system in Ghana, especially that of lack of funds would be removed after which MMDCEs should be elected.
A representative of the NPP, Mr Jonathan Hagan, suggested that the regional ministers and MMDCEs should be taken away from the security system if MMDCEs were to be elected so that they would not pose any threat to the government or the President, should they come from different political parties or areas that did not support the ruling party.
After a lengthy debate on the issue, it was agreed that three or more persons should be nominated by the President to be voted for the MMDCE positions.