Six political parties at the end of a Multi-Stakeholder Conference organized by the Ghana Catholic Bishops' Conference have agreed in principle the election of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs).
The representatives of the six political parties who made the disclosure in their submissions on Friday in Accra were Mr Freddie Blay, Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP); Mr Johnson Asiedu Nketia, General Secretary of the National Democratic Congress (NDC); and Mr James Kwabena Bomfeh Jr, Acting General Secretary of the Convention People's Party (CPP).
The rest were Alhaji Mohammed Frimpong, General Secretary, National Democratic Party (NDP); Mr Allotey Brew Hammond, Progressive People's Party (PPP); and Mr Bernard Mornah, National Chairman, People's National Convention (PNC).
However, Mr Mornah was of the view that there was the need to tread cautiously on the issue of the election of MMDCEs because at the local level, monetization would equally affect the chances of the smaller parties.
The workshop, which was organised by the Ghana Catholic Bishops' Conference with funding from the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung sought to promote effective representation and accountable local governance and in particular the direct participation of political parties in local government elections and the election by the people of their MMDCEs instead of appointment by the President.
It would be recalled that the NPP government in its campaign prior to the 2016 elections, proposed direct election of the MMDCEs on the basis of political party representation rather than appointment by the President.
This, it is reasoned, would not only deepen democracy at the local level, but also make the MMDCEs more accountable to the people of the district.
However, as Article 55 (3) of the 1992 Constitution prohibits political party sponsorship of candidates for elections to district assemblies or local government units, the government proposes a referendum to amend the Constitution to allow for the election of members of district assembly and MMDCEs based on political party representation.
Mr Nketia said having operated the 1992 Constitution for more than a quarter of a century, it had become very clear that provisions that bar partisan politics at the district level had become obsolete, hence the need to take a second look at it.
Mr Blay said the government of the NPP was committed to ensuring that MMDCEs were elected.
Mr Bomfeh said, “The Constitution which is the legal architecture of our governance system generally is a problem. If we amend Article 243 that will take away the power to appoint MMDCEs from the President; and we fail to amend Article 55 (3), which stops political parties from participating, it would come to naught.”
“I believe that we need a complete overhaul of the 1992 Constitution. Why we say so is that the power structure and its aggregation, mobilization and allocation of resources if they remain the same as they are, we will be electing MMDCEs but we will be giving them no power,” he added.
He said the CPP was of the view that no change could come about in this country if the generality of the citizenry do not change their minds and their attitudes.
Mr Hammond said the PPP since its formation had shown commitment towards ensuring that MMDCEs were elected. He stated that when it happens, it would guarantee accountability at the local government level.
Alhaji Frimpong described the purpose of the referendum that could lead to the election of MMDCEs as a floating light ball that could not be submerged by anybody.
In a speech read on his behalf, Bishop Philip Naameh, Chairman of the Ghana Catholic Bishops' Conference, said when success is chalked up at the constitutional amendment, the election of the MMDCEs would mark a turning point in local governance and development in the country.