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Opinions of Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Columnist: Thompson, Kofi

Electing DCE's: Good For Ghanaian Democracy's Future

By Kofi Thompson

Knowing the hostility of some Ghanaian politicians (from across the spectrum) to the idea of bringing democracy to the grassroots level, by electing District Chief Executives, President Mahama's National Democratic Congress administration must be commended for helping to bring about a positive new development in Ghanaian politics.

The constitutional amendment that now makes possible the election of Metropolitan, Municipal and District chief executives will deepen Ghanaian democracy - because it will make the concerns of local people the focal point of the work of politicians at the grassroots level.

However, it does not go far enough. To make Ghanaian democracy truly benefit ordinary people, the election of DCE's ought to be on a party basis.

As a leadership training ground, serving ordinary people at the local level will endow our nation with a pool of experienced elected politicians with proven track records - from which some of those who serve at the national level can be selected.

If done on a party basis, it will also end the negativity that the winner-takes-all politics practised here represents - an unsatisfactory state of affairs responsible for the never-ending political tension that has unfortunately ended up polarising Ghanaian society.

And if candidates of opposition parties could be elected as chief executives to run some of the areas administered by Ghana's Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies, those parties would feel that they also had a stake in the running of Ghana.

Above all, there would be competition amongst the political parties at the grassroots level - which would ensure that local leaders respond to the needs of local people.

Local communities would also feel empowered politically - and finally feel able to take their destiny into their own hands every four years: and obtain their share of the democracy-dividend.

And far from sabotaging the government of the day, as critics of the idea of electing DCE's on a party basis maintain, opposition political parties would rather work hard to improve the quality of life of local people in the areas administered by their winning candidates in elections for the position of chief executive of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies.

That would bring about sustainable development in the areas under their jurisdiction - to which they could point to, during campaigns for parliamentary and presidential elections, as examples of what they would achieve at the national level for Ghanaians. That can only be good for the long-term future of Ghanaian democracy.