The National House of Chiefs has denied suggestions that it failed to extensively discuss the national referendum which will allow political parties to sponsor candidates for district-level elections.
There is a seeming division within the House over the national referendum.
A press statement released on Friday, on the letterhead of the House and under the signatures of the President, Togbe Afede XIV and Vice President Daasebre Nana Kwebu Ewusi VII had said the House was against the government's position on the December 17 referendum.
The statement said the House is concerned about the adverse effects of partisan politics on local level development if this referendum goes through.
“We want the citizenry to know that the referendum is meant to permit unbridled partisan politics into local government, and so the merits of the proposed reform should be assessed on that basis. We strongly recommend its rejection by the citizens”, the House said in the statement.
But, Chairman of the Governance Committee of the House, Ogyeahoho Yaw Gyebi II of Sefwi Anhwiaso in the Western Region subsequently told Citi News the statement does not represent the collective view of the House.
He further indicated that he was not privy to the House’s consultations or meetings held on the upcoming referendum, thus the statement was coming from just two individuals.
“I am not aware of any consultation or meeting. This matter should have been referred to the governance committee of which I am the Chairman but it hasn't been referred to me. If it came to the governing council, it would have been discussed at the planning committee. But this hasn't happened so I don't know who and who came out with this statement on behalf of all the paramount chiefs in the country. Especially when two major political parties have taken a different stance. If we are not careful, we will involve ourselves directly in party politics. So far as I am concerned, this is statement coming from two individuals not the house”, he said on Eyewitness News.
The House, in its latest response to Ogyeahoho Yaw Gyebi’s claims, however, insisted that the proposed referendum was thoroughly discussed at the National House of Chiefs, both by the Standing Committee and the General Meeting.
“Any suggestions that the proposed referendum to allow partisan politics in local elections was not discussed by the House is not only dishonest but wanton mischief.”
Two bills are seeking amendments to Articles 243(1) and 55(3) for the introduction of political party participation in the local level 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.''
Vote NO in December 17 referendum – NDC to Ghanaians
The opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) had earlier called on Ghanaians to vote against the proposal to amend the constitution to allow political parties to participate in the District level elections.
According to the NDC, when District Assembly elections are made partisan, there will be party-motivated projects and programmes such as 'NDC Communal Labour Day' and 'NPP Communal Labour Day', particularly in rural areas.
At a press conference, the NDC Chairman, Samuel Ofosu Ampofo, said a YES vote, will open district assemblies and unit committees to “the needless NDC-NPP polarization.”
“At the meeting held last Thursday, the NEC of the NDC affirmed our long-held position that MMDCEs should be elected. We however took the view that the local government system should remain non-partisan and that individuals contest the District Assembly and Unit Committee elections on their own merit. We therefore decided to campaign for a NO vote at the referendum and to urge all Ghanaians to vote NO at the referendum. It is our well-considered view, and indeed that of well-meaning Ghanaians, that the needless NDC-NPP polarization at the national level should not be extended into the District Assemblies and Unit Committees, which is what will happen if we vote to make the local government system partisan.”