You are here: HomeWallOpinionsArticles2004 04 24Article 56536

Opinions of Saturday, 24 April 2004

Columnist: Abdul-Rahman

Making Democracy Work in Ghana: A Look at the District Concept.

Democracy, according Abraham Lincoln is a Government with the consent of the people. That is why free and fair election is one of the foundamental principle of democracy that brings politicians to electorate at periodically. Bu the most important ingredient of democracy is popular participation and that input people make in the day to day administration of the country. In fact Robert Putnam's study of Italy and subsequent writings about democracy in United States shows the importance of the participation of civil society and the population in general. Putnam argued that a democracy rest on the shoulders of civil society. In deed democracy without popular participation is more likely to turn in to an aristocracy, theocracy or military rule.

It is against this background that empowering the public to participate in Ghana's young democracy is not only important but also necessary. One of the very important areas of empowerment is the district assembly system. The current district system as stands makes room for public participation. First 70%(I stand to be corrected) of the District Assembly members are elected through direct elections to represent their communities. The remaining 30% is appointed by the Government. The goverment also appoints District chief Executives subject to the approval of the District Assemble. The same process exist at Unit Committee level. Although the system as it stance now makes some room for public partication and is better than non at all. It is view my that the powers of decision still rest on the shoulders of the central government. As has been reprorted in our media, governments often abuse the systems for their political gains at the expense of the needs of our poor communities. Sometimes corrupt DEC gets way with their crime. Because they are not responsible to the people but to central which is often far way from them.

It is against this background that District assembly needs to reform to give the public additional powers over their daily lifes. We can do this by making the people directly elect their DCE. This will make the DCE more responsible and accountable to their people. It also allow people chance to question the actions of DCE and hold them reponsible those actions and inactions.

This practice is not new, it is the practice in most democracy. In Canada people elect their city Mayor (Mayors are equivallent to DCEs. In the United States even the County police sherrif is elected by the people. The elective system will make DCE independent.

Not only this but also the 30% "government representation" should to struck off off the District Assembly Law. All members of the Assemble should elected by their respective communities to represent their people. By so doing our Assemble system will be an exellent means through which people will participate directly in their day to day affair. It will also provide a very good avenue for training future national politicians.


Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.