The Local Governance Network (LOGNet), a Civil Society Organisation (CSO) working in the local governance landscape in Ghana with over 250 association members has held zonal sensitisation forums on the 2019 District Level Election (DLE) and referendum for its members and other cross-section of stakeholders.
The forums were on the theme “improving stakeholders’ understanding for informed decision making at the forthcoming referendum”
The December 2019 District Level Election (DLE) which is the seventh in the series since the conduct of the first DLE in 1994 under the 4th Republican Constitution will be unique in the sense that it will include a referendum on Article 55(3) which introduces multi-partisan system of electing local leaders.
According to LOGNet, the forums was in line with its mandate, to sensitize the general public on the 2019 DLE and its process thereby increasing awareness of the public to make informed decisions during the polls and its associated processes including the referendum on Article 55(3).
The forums were organised on zonal basis covering all the administrative regions of the country. The zonal centres were Tamale (covering Upper East, North West, Northern, Savanna and Upper West Regions), Accra (covering Greater Accra, Eastern, Volta and Oti Regions), Takoradi (covering Western, North Western and Central Regions) and Kumasi (covering Ashanti, Ahafo, Bono and Bono East Regions). The forums were organised from the 16th to 25th July 2019. In all, 198 participants attended the 4 forums comprising 63 females and 135 males.
The forums were held in four zonal centres. The first forum was held at Tamale on 16th July 2019 and participants were drawn from Upper East, North East, Northern, Savanna and Upper West Regions. The Accra forum was held on the 18th of July 2019 and also covered participants from the Greater Accra, Eastern, Volta and Oti Regions; while the one held at Takoradi on the 23rd July 2019 had participants from the Western, Western North and Central Regions.
The Last of the zonal forums was held at Kumasi on the 25th of July 2019 and had participants from the Ashanti, Ahafo, Bono and Bono East Regions. In all, 198 participants attended the 4 forums comprising 63 females and 135 males.
Participants who attended the various forums were traditional authorities, religious leaders, women’s groups, PWDs, political parties and government functionaries.
Participants at the end of the forums came up with a communiqué to call on government to adequately resource the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), the Electoral Commission (EC), the Information Services Department (ISD), Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and the media, to intensify education of the citizenry by disseminating accurate messages on matters relating to the2019 DLEs and Referendum.
Public sensitisation and proper education, participants believe, will whip up public interest in the process and possibly lead to a higher voter turnout well beyond the 40% threshold and other requirements for a successful Referendum and possible amendment of article 55(3) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana.
The forums were organized in collaboration with the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD) with support from Support for Decentralisation Reforms (SfDR) programme (a joint programme being implemented by GIZ on behalf of the Government of Ghana and the Federal Republic of Germany with additional funding support from Global Affairs, Canada).
Below is unedited communiqué
COMMUNIQUÉ ISSUED AFTER FORUMS ON 2019 DISTRICT LEVEL ELECTIONS AND REFERENDUM BY LOCAL GOVERNANCE NETWORK (LOGNet) SEPTEMBER 25, 2019
This communiqué summarises decisions and conclusions arrived at the end of the forums for the attention of Government and the General Public through the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLRD).
On the District Level Elections;
We call on government to adequately resource the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), The Electoral Commission (EC), the Information Services Department (ISD), Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and the media, to intensify education of the citizenry by disseminating accurate messages on matters relating to the December DLEs and Referendum. This education, participants believe, will whip up public interest in the process and possibly lead to a higher voter turnout well beyond the 40% threshold and other requirements for a successful Referendum and possible amendment of article 55(3) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana. In that regard, we recommend
- That efforts and resources should not be over-concentrated on the referendum to the neglect of the District Level Election of Assembly Members and Unit Committee Members.
- That the Media, especially those operating at the local level and within the districts should be sensitised and properly educated on the matters relating to the DLEs and the Referendum. This will help improve their understanding on the issues and enable them provide accurate information and education to the public.
- That the challenges faced by PWDs should be addressed before and during the election process. This requires stakeholder engagement with the Ghana Federation of Disability Organisations (GFD).
On the Amendment of Article 243(1) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana
In line with object to amend Article 243(1) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana, the Participants fully agree to the direct election of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs).
Participants call on Members of Parliament (MPs) to overwhelmingly support, and amend Article 243(1) to allow popular election of MMDCEs, bearing in mind that about 70% of Ghanaians want their MMDCEs elected (NCCE 2014; Afrobarometer 2017). We recommend accordingly;
- That beyond electing MMDCEs, complementary reforms are critical and as such efforts should be made to deepen Fiscal and Administrative Decentralisation. Resources and capacity required at the district level should therefore be provided to support the equitable and sustainable development of the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs).
- That a roadmap to all necessary complementary reforms and consequential amendments be developed and discussed with all major stakeholders immediately after the December 2019 DLEs and the Referendum.
- That the 30% appointees in the MMDAs should be maintained (as stated in the Local Governance Act, 2016 (Act 936)) for Women, PWD, the Youth, Professionals and others to provide technical expertise and as well promote equity, inclusion and fairness. However, guidelines to the appointment of the 30% Assembly Members should be clearly stated, and the modalities clearly defined.
- Those efforts should be made to strengthen the Sub-District structures. Revenue assignment (ceded revenue) and other resources should be clearly defined in law to guide a coordinated approach to developing our Small Towns and Villages.
- That government should consider further discussions and consultations on the remuneration of Assembly members and Unit Committee members. This we believe will energise them to work more effectively for the development of their respective electoral areas and communities. However, we highly recommend clear Policy guidelines and procedure to MMDAs on these covering targets, processes and systems for revenue mobilisation, utilisation and management.
On the Referendum on Article 55(3), we agree to the aim of the referendum
However, there was no consensus among participants of the Zonal Sensitisation Forums on political parties’ involvement in District Level Elections. We, therefore defer the decision to citizens to decide whether political parties should be allowed to support and sponsor candidates in District Level Elections in Ghana through the upcoming Referendum. Participants recommended;
- That the education on the Referendum should make a clear distinction between [the Election of MMDCEs, that is, Article 243(1) and its mandate on the Parliament of Ghana] on the one hand and [the involvement of Political Parties in District Level Elections (DLE), that is, Article 55(3) which Citizens must decide, hence the Referendum] on the other hand.
- That irrespective of the outcome of the referendum there is the need to enforce existing legislations and introduce additional ones (as the need arises) seeking to deepen democratic, fiscal and administrative decentralisation in Ghana.
- That in the event that political parties are allowed to support and sponsor candidates in the DLE, a legislation would be introduced to fund candidates for DLE in order to reduce monetisation and the high cost of campaigning which creates allegiance to Financiers and Political Party Executives and Members.
- That, in order to avoid political parties hijacking the development of the MMDAs and Communities, with the possible introduction of party politics in Local governance, leading to the deepening of winner takes all syndrome with its consequential issues, there is the need to strengthen the NDPC Laws (Act 479,480, and LI 2232) and national development planning processes to tighten linkages between national and district development plans for harmonious development.
Generally, the Zonal Forum Participants urge the Government of Ghana to show more commitment in developing legislations and amendments that will empower and build capacity of MMDAs (including Sub-district structures) to deliver on their mandate and become more responsive to the needs and aspirations of the citizens, as enshrined in Article 35(6d) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana.
The Local Governance Network (LOGNet) as an umbrella network of non-state actors in Local and Development Governance, and the Lead Facilitator of these Zonal Forums, stands for improving efficiency and effectiveness of Local Governments to deliver the required Public Services to the citizenry. Over the last decade, LOGNet and its member Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) are complementing Local Governance and Development process by building capacities of citizens’ groups, raising awareness on development issues, sharing knowledge and helping to facilitate dialogue between citizens and policy-makers across the Country.
As Partners in Development we call on well-meaning Ghanaians, Media, Public and Private Corporate Institutions to support this noble cause of improving the democratisation of our Local Government System.
We would like to express our appreciation to the Minister and Leadership of the Local Government Ministry for their Technical support, Guidance and Presence before and during the Zonal Sensitization forums. Similarly, we sincerely acknowledge the leadership of GIZ / SfDR programme for their Technical and Financial support to LOGNet in organising the Zonal Sensitisation Forums. We again express our deepest appreciation to all Forum Participants and Discussants for your wonderful contributions and recommendations.
We entreat other development partners to also offer support to the on-going process to elect our local leaders and deepen democracy in Ghana.
Mr. Christopher Dapaah – Ag National Coordinator, (LOGNet), 0244547417
Mr. Louis Acheampong – Social Support Foundation, 0244605165
Mr Farouq Braima – Peoples Dialogue, 0244668855
Mr. Maxwell Banu – TEERE, 0244876415