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Politics of Thursday, 21 March 2013

Source: citifmonline

Let's be clear on MMDCEs

The Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development has debunked statements made in some quarters suggesting that Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives should be elected.

According to Hon. Akwesi Opong-Fosu, though the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) had outlined three different approaches to be used in selecting Chief Executives for the three categories of Assemblies which include; Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies, government was seeking to amend these approaches to make them less confusing to the public.

He noted in a statement however that until amendments were effected, the CRC’s approach will remain the status quo.

Below is the full statement

Constitutional Amendments to the Procedure for the emergence of the District Chief Executives

The attention of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural development has been drawn to some degree of public confusion regarding the proposed amendments to the procedure for the emergence of Metropolitan, Municipal and District chief executives.

The Progressive People’s Party for example is reported to have inaccurately concluded that “the recommendation of the Constitutional Review Commission was for direct and popular election of MMDCEs.” The ministry considers it a public duty to help the public to understand the matter.

Ghana currently has three categories of Assemblies. These are the Metropolitan, Municipal and District assemblies. There are six Metropolitan Assemblies, 48 Municipal Assemblies and 162 District Assemblies.

The constitutional review commission recommended a different approach for each category of Assembly. This meant that there would be three different approaches for the emergence of chief executives for the three categories of Assemblies. In other words, there would be one approach for the emergence of chief executives for the six metropolitan assemblies, a different methodology for the 48 Municipal Assemblies and yet a different method for the 162 district assemblies.

For the six metropolitan assemblies, the CRC recommended that “the Metropolitan Chief Executive should be properly elected.” This meant for example that for the whole of Accra, covering the entire jurisdiction of the AMA, there would be election open to every eligible contestant to stand as Metropolitan Chief Executive and all eligible voters would have the opportunity to vote and elect one candidate. In short, this recommendation was for a pure political process.

In the case of the 48 Municipal Assemblies, it was the recommendation of the CRC that “the president should nominate persons who would be vetted by the Public Services Commission (PSC) for competence, after which three nominees would contest in a public election...” This proposal combines the legitimacy of a political process with an administrative/bureaucratic system.

The CRC’s recommendation for the 162 District Assemblies was that “the President should nominate a candidate for the approval by a simple majority of the Assembly as District Chief Executive.” This recommendation was very close to the system which pertains today. The key difference between the CRC proposal and the current situation is that at present, the approval of a DCE requires two thirds majority of the assembly.

Critically examined, the three proposals above meant that the emergence of Chief Executives was going to flow from an amalgam of processes. From the governance perspective, that looked confusing.

Government therefore sought to bring clarity to the process. As a result, the Government decided to adopt a uniform and pragmatic method for the emergence of Chief Executives for all categories of assemblies. It was the view of Government that in “decentralizing in a unitary state, a delicate balance ought to be struck between central control and local autonomy”.

The final decision was that “Article 243(1) of the constitution should be amended for the president to nominate a minimum of five (5) persons who would be vetted by the Public Services Commission (PSC) for competence after which three (3) nominees would contest in a public election”. This proposal will apply to all categories of assemblies.

The next step in the process is for Parliament to go through proper procedures to carry out the amendment. Until then, the status quo remains.

It is the hope of the ministry that this statement brings some clarity to the issue of selecting DCEs.