Need for more education on December 17 Referendum Vote

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Accra, Oct. 3, GNA – There is the need for more awareness creation on the proposed amendment of Article 55(3), to pave way for the participation of political parties in district level elections.
This is because it is only when the public fully appreciate the need for the amendment that they would participate and ensure its enactment.
Mr Osei Bonsu Amoah, Deputy Minister for Local Government, said this on Wednesday in Accra, at a program dubbed, “Public Conversation on Reforms, Benefits, Costs and Participation : Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives(MMDCEs) Elections, and the 17th December National Referendum.”
He said while many people believe we should go for a referendum, many still have no idea what the entire referendum was really about.
The Deputy Minister said, “We should not underestimate this work and assume that because some of us have endorsed it, the public appreciate why we are putting in this effort.”
Mr Amoah said Article 243 (1) gave power to the President to appoint all MMDCEs, which meant that if the President had to cede this power, then the clause had to be amended.
He said currently, “we are at the second reading stage in Parliament, and because it is the amendment of a constitutional provision which is non-entrenched, we need two thirds of parliamentary approval at the second and third reading stage before it is passed”.
Hopefully by the second week of October when Parliament resumes, this matter would be addressed, the Deputy Minister said.
“I am happy that all parties are endorsing this new move. We should be able to tell our parliamentarians to remove the power of the President to appoint MMDCEs”, Mr Amoah said.
He said the country needed reforms at the local level, in order to strengthen our democracy adding, “we should all appreciate that this is to adopt the best practice in the democratic parlance. It would afford local people the opportunity to choose their own leaders and make MMDCEs more responsible and directly accountable to the people.”
The Deputy Minister said since the agenda was put on the table, the attitude of MMDCEs has changed.
He said they have become more accessible to the people because they know that once the process was seen through, the people would have to vote for them to be in office.
Mr Roland Affail Monney, President of the Ghana Journalist Association, said the Association which comprises all media bodies in the country is in support of the initiative and has embarked on its project dubbed “Agenda 40/75” to raise awareness for the upcoming referendum.
He urged the media to consciously contribute to the agenda and help educate the public using their various communication mediums to vote yes, come December, 17.
He said the proposed multi party governance system would help with economic development within the country’s local communities.
Madam Josephine Nkrumah, Chairman NCCE and the chair-person for the programme, said the amendment of the entrenched Article 55(3) would correct a lot of anomalies in the country’s rural development, especially in areas which depend on the various assemblies for development.
She urged the public to come out in their numbers to vote ‘yes’ on the set date because a low turnout would defeat the very purpose for the referendum.
Ghana has practiced multiparty democracy for 27 years and decentralized local government in which political parties are prohibited.
The existing local government system centralizes executive power and Article 55(3) institutionalizes the exclusion of the political parties. Thus a multiparty based political system at the national level, is superimposed on a non-party based local government system.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, in his State of the Nation Message to Parliament, delivered on February 8, 2018, called for the amendment of the entrenched Article 55(3) to pave the way for the participation of political parties in district level elections.
“The constitutional impediment to this, in Article 55 of the Constitution, an entrenched clause, must, therefore, be removed to ensure the judicious use of the country’s resources,” the President said.
A national referendum to approve the amendment or otherwise, has thus been scheduled for December 17, 2019.
The program was organized by the Institute for Democratic Governance, in collaboration with the Ghana journalists Association, Civic Forum Initiative, Embassy of Denmark, and Star Ghana Foundation.

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