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Regional News of Sunday, 10 May 2020

Source: www.ghanaweb.com

Assembly members petition Akufo-Addo to allow District Assemblies convene meetings

Correspondence from the Western Region

Some assembly members in the Ellembelle District of the Western Region have petitioned President Akufo-Addo to allow District Assembly meetings to be reconvened to enable members discuss issues pertaining to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the role assembly members could play to educate their communities to avoid the spread of the virus.

According to the elected assembly members, since the Assembly had not called a meeting upon the outbreak of the Covid-19, one-third of the members numbering 24 wrote to the Assembly to invite them for an emergency meeting.

Spokesperson of the group, Mr. Mac Donald Kwofie who is the assembly member for Sanzule-Bakanta electoral area said the District Chief Executive (DCE), Mr. Kwasi Bonzoh responded to their letter and requested to meet the 24 signatories in the letter.

As expected, Mr. Bonzoh met the members within the premise of the assembly, in addition, to five other officials from the District Assembly's office including the District Coordinating Director, Mr. Atsu.

Before the meeting started, the DCE was categorical on the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic which has suspended all public meetings of not more than 25 people except Parliament.

Mr. Bonzoh told the Assembly Members that "I will be the last person to flout the President's directive on safety protocols".

Upon counting the number at meeting, the said they were 29 and therefore dismissed the meeting.

Speaking to GhanaWeb's Western Regional correspondent, Mr. Mac Donald asked the President to reconsider the directive since it was affecting consensus building at the local government level.

He said since Parliament meets to represent their constituents and explain policies to them, same privilege must be extended to the District Assembly.

According to him, Assembly Members have a crucial role to play in fighting COVID-19 yet no Assembly Members has been invited for a meeting on how to fight the disease.

Mr. Kwofie said Assembly Members have nothing in terms of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) to distribute to their communities.

In a communique issued and signed by the Members and copied to GhanaWeb, they appealed to the President to call the DCE to order to remove all the personal photographs on all COVID-19 items paid by the tax payers and donation from corporate Ghana and emboss the items with Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD) or the District Assembly.

"The DCE must hand over all COVID-19 items for the communities to the unit committees through the elected Assembly Members within five days", the statement emphasized.

The communique also stated that the DCE must stop discrimination in the distribution of COVID-19 funds and donations.

The communique further reminded the DCE not to fight the pandemic with party faithfuls, and tell members of the Assembly the committee managing the Covid-19 fund without Finance and Administration sub-committee decision for general Assembly approval.

Failing to elect Presiding Member

These Assembly Members have bemoaned on how the Ellembelle District Assembly was working without a Presiding Member (PM).

They urged the DCE to invite all the Assembly Members as a matter of urgency to elect a Presiding Member to chair meetings for the smooth running of the Assembly.

"The DCE must invite all members of the Assembly to elect a Presiding Member at the Yinson Hall at NASS where the social distancing protocol could be observed", the statement requested.

The communique also reminded the DCE not to spend the Assembly revenue or Common Fund without approval by a well constituted General Assembly as stated in section 170 of the Local Government Act, 2016 (Act 936).

The Members urged the DCE to account to the Assembly without delay all expenses incurred on Assembly projects without approval from the Assembly and all donations received either in cash or kind to help prevent Covid-19 on or before April 30, 2020.

Galamsey activities in Ellembelle and other concerns

The communique also urged the DCE to arrest illegal miners and those behind it which has destroyed the river bodies, the land of Nkroful Agricultural Senior High School (NASS).

The communique also asked the DCE to dissolve all Community, Water and Sanitation Board inaugurated by the DCE without recourse to the bye-laws for the composition of the Board.