16.04.2005 General News

Roots of democracy are still shallow and fragile - NCCE

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Accra, April 16, GNA - Mr. Laary Bimi, Chairman of the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) on Saturday cautioned against the hip up of political, tribal, personality and religious tension in the country as the root of democracy are still very shallow and fragile to withstand undue pressure.

"Even though Ghana have since 1992 laid the foundation of democracy and have begun to appreciate the benefits of democratic governance, there is the strong need for activities designed to consolidate gains," Mr. Bimi told the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in an interview in Accra on preparations towards the Fifth National Constitution Week celebration from April 28 to May 4.

Mr. Bimi mentioned ten potential dangers to democratic governance, and cautioned against it sneaking into the political landscape. The potential dangers include: where citizens deem the performance of elected governments and district assemblies to fall significantly short of their expectations, low frequency and poor quality of formal linkages between citizens and elected representatives.

Lethargic operation of justice, executive dominance at all levels of government, low participation of women in local governance, slow pace of fiscal decentralization or devolution, and the lack of an open and transparent local governance.

The rest were: lack of involvement of citizens in activities and decision-making processes, lack of consistent and persistent flow of information from the government to its citizens and vice-versa and low resource mobilization and over dependence on the District Assembly Common Fund.

Mr. Bimi explained that the Fifth Constitutional Week celebration, scheduled for April 28 to May 4, on the general theme: "Reducing Poverty Through Citizens' Participation in Local Government," was dedicated to broadening the principles of participatory democracy.

The NCCE Chairman said: "The essence of citizen's participation in local governance if to overcome some of these challenges so that policies are developed and carried out jointly in a manner that is as responsive as possible to the needs and desires of citizens."

Mr. Bimi said participatory democracy would ensure collective action between government authorities and citizens and raise awareness on development responsibilities by civil society and its involvement in public policy design.

It will also contribute to a more open, inclusive and transparent society and will strengthen democratic institutions and the culture of democracy, provide and environment under which poverty could be reduced rapidly.

Justifying the celebration of Constitution Week, Mr. Bimi said the week provides the opportunity for the entire population to participate in a series of civic education activities that aimed at increasing their constitutional awareness.

It also ensures increased participation in the democratic process for the achievement of good governance, social and political stability and national integration and development.

Mr. Bimi said the institutionalisation of the Constitution Week has also increased awareness and understanding for specific provisions of the 1992 Constitution, enhanced active participation in the democratisation process.

Through the celebration educational institutions, public and state libraries, civil society groups, media houses, community based groups have all been given copies of the 1992 Constitutions. Statistically, the NCCE Chairman said within the past 12 years of constitutional rule, the country have witness four successful multi-party free and fair elections as well as two and four unit committee and district level elections respectively.

He said the programme would start with media briefing, reading of civic messages in Churches, Mosques, shrines and educational institutions. There would be lectures, adult education in six local languages on television and these would be replicated at the community level.

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