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15.11.2019 Feature Article

Let Us Opt For Grassroots-Level Democracy Too - To Further Deepen The Roots Of Ghanaian Democracy

Let Us Opt For Grassroots-Level Democracy Too - To Further Deepen The Roots Of Ghanaian Democracy

When it comes to genuine grassroots-level democracy, perhaps the question we ought to ponder over as a people is: Does the yearning for freedom not beat in the hearts of bush-village-people (like myself, the very cantankerous old fogey, 66-year old Kofi Thompson!), just as passionately as it beats in the hearts of well-educated Americans, Australians and British citizens, who happen to have first class degrees, from Oxbridge and Ivy League universities in the UK and U.S.?

How insulting can people get, I ask? Haaba. It really is outrageous that our smug, educated urban elites can be so patronising, as to suggest that allowing competition at the grassroots level, for leadership positions in the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies, will somehow be detrimental to Ghanaian democracy. What nonsense. It won't. On the contrary, it will rather deepen the roots of Ghanaian democracy, further.

Like the redoubtable Opanin Kwadwo Ahodo, I too cannot, for the life of me, fathom why some Ghanaians are so dead set against the idea of the needs of local people at the grassroots level, finally being allowed to dominate local politics - by changing statute book laws to make it possible for voters to cast votes to select those they want to become the chief executives of their Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs).

Why do some highly-intelligent Ghanaians still want our nation to hold on to the present unsatisfactory system (in which MMDA chief executives are ultimately accountable to the President who appoints them, instead of being directly accountable to local people), which empowers governments of the day to exploit MMDAs for their secret-pork-barrel-politricks-agendas? Ebeeii, Ghanafuo, paaaa di3. Haaba.

Competition at the grassroots level, be it between political parties or between sundry well-off, popular independent-local-achievers with solid on-the-ground track-records of successful common-good endeavours, for leadership positions in the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies, will rather ensure that the needs of grassroots people will always be the ends for which power at that level, is sought and exercised, by both politicians and apolitical independent candidates. Full stop.

That is why one makes bold to predict that should the needed changes by Parliament in our laws be accepted by ordinary people, in the December 17 referendum on on the matter, on the contrary, what we will all see happening across Ghana, swiftly, will rather be an end to the litany of never-ending complaints about appalling living conditions, across vast swathes of the Ghanaian countryside, which one hears and sees daily, in news reports in the more responsible sections of the Ghanaian media.

Real grassroots-level-change will occur throughout our homeland Ghana, if Ghanaians vote yes in the December 17, 2019, referendum. The resultant changed system, will mean, for example, an end to present-day vociferous grassroots-level complaints such as: communities protesting publicly against terrible local pothole-riddled-roads; dangerous bridges (some built even as far back as the colonial era), which never see any maintenance carried out on them by well-paid public-sector engineers, who are a law onto themselves, incidentally.

Ditto complaints about dilapidated school buildings in villages and small towns, which, alas, are structurally too dangerous for teaching and learning to take place in; lack of accessible community healthcare facilities for rural populations; local communities having to contend with mountains of disease-causing-and-foul-smelling household waste that no one cares to collect on a regular basis; being at the mercy of drug-crazed armed robbers because there are no police stations in their communities; etc., etc.

If we rid ourselves of the present unsatisfactory local government system that is clearly not very useful for local people across Ghana, all the abovementioned challenges will become things of the past - simply because those elected to run the MMDAs, when the needed new laws are passed by Parliament, after the referendum, will make ending those complaints by local people a governance priority of their tenures in office, so as to gain re-election again. Simple commonsense.

Rather than waste precious time indulging in divisive party politics, elected chief executives, assembly women and assemblymen from different political parties will, out of necessity , rather opt for collaboration and cooperation with each other, to enable them work hard to satisfy the needs of grassroots-level communities across Ghana, in fulfillment of the sundry campaign promises that got them elected in the first place. Full stop.

Let us therefore rid our nation of the present corruption-riddled local government system, and opt for one in which to ensure their own re-election, chief executives, assembly women and assemblymen, will always strive to govern well, and manage locally-generated revenues in transparent fashion - so as to meet the needs of local communities in the areas under their jurisdictions. What could possibly be wrong with such a positive development in our democracy, I ask? Zilch.

Finally, electing chief executives, assembly women and assemblymen of the MMDAs, will help create a pool of young and experienced Ghanaian political leaders at the local level: who can be tapped to help run the nation at the national level, because they all proved their mettle as results-driven-leaders at the grassroots level. What could possibly be wrong with such a blessing for Mother Ghana, I ask? Let us opt for grassroots-level democracy too - to deepen further the roots of Ghanaian democracy. Case closed. Haaba.

Kofi Thompson
Kofi Thompson, © 2019

The author has 468 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: KofiThompson

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