Following a report that more than half of Ghanaians are not aware of the upcoming December 17 referendum, Director of Advocacy and Policy Engagement at the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD), Dr Kojo Asante is hopeful that the trend will change in the coming days.
Although he concedes that there has been general apathy towards the referendum, he is of the view that the interest of Ghanaians will increase following the education and sensitization programmes being undertaken by the National Commission on Civic Education (NCCE), Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO) and the Electoral Commission.
“I think you can attest to the fact that basically almost all the information that has gone out started within the latter days in September  and even that was just beginning to trickle down. So, there has not been a lot of education early enough for us to touch base with the system with the kind of information that we get when we are doing parliamentary or presidential elections,” he said on Eyewitness News.
“I expect that, that will change sort of week by week because I know the NCCE is doing some education. CODEO, for instance, has some 260 civic educators on the ground for the next six weeks towards the referendum. They are organizing a mass education as well. The Electoral Commission will launch a month campaign as well. Within the next couple of weeks, we expect to have more. Of course, it started quite late but we are still hopeful that people will become more aware,” he added.
A new Afrobarometer report has indicated that close to 60 percent of Ghanaians say they are not aware of the upcoming referendum in December.
The survey stated that a significant proportion of Ghanaians are either not likely to vote in the referendum or “don't know” whether or not they will vote.
Of the less than 42 percent of Ghanaians who are aware of the referendum, indications are that men, the highly educated, and elderly citizens are more aware of the referendum than women, citizens with less schooling, and young adults.
Two bills are seeking amendments to Articles 243(1) and 55(3) for the election of MMDCEs and introduction of political party participation in the local elections.
At the moment, the law, in Article 243 (1) of the 1992 Constitution, says District Chief Executives for every district are to be appointed by the President with the prior approval of not less than two-thirds majority of members of the assembly present and voting at the meeting.
Article 55 (3) states that “subject to the provisions of this article, a political party is free to participate in shaping the political will of the people, to disseminate information on political ideas, social and economic programmes of a national character and sponsor candidates for elections to any public office other than to District Assemblies or lower local government units.''
The referendum has become necessary because Article 55 is an entrenched provision of the Constitution and therefore can only be amended through a referendum.