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Politics of Friday, 4 September 2015

Source: Today Newspaper

Ghana’s local gov’t system is a sham – PPP

Progressive People’s Party (PPP) has described Ghana’s local government system as a “sham” though the party has admitted that decentralisation is key and synonymous with both developed and developing countries.

“There are many who want us to believe that Ghana has a proper decentralisation system that is second to none in the world. One would have wished that this is rightly the case. However, our local government system is a sham! The most powerful and important person at the local level is not elected but appointed,” the PPP in a statement signed by its National Secretary, Kofi Asamoah-Siaw, and issued in Accra yesterday stated.

According to the PPP, the recent district level elections and its attendant low turnout have exposed the “shambolic” nature of “our local government system.”

The statement noted that the zeal for decentralisation had soared up over the years as it was considered by many as the key to effective and efficient public administration.

The party further explained that decentralisation required that political power is transferred or delegated from the central government to regional and local authorities.

The statement attributed the success of many western countries to the fact that they understood democracy and allowed their people to participate in their local governance.

“Democratic processes in these countries are allowed to work to the letter. Mayors and local government authorities are directly elected by the people,” the statement noted.

The PPP therefore supported the above claim by quoting Article 240(2) (e) of the1992 Constitution which clearly states that “to ensure accountability of local government authorities, people in particular local government areas shall, as far as practicable, be afforded the opportunity to participate effectively in their governance.”

“Is this the case with our local government system?” the statement asked.

According to PPP, there was no way any country can have a proper decentralisation when metropolitan, municipal and district chief executives (MMDCEs) are still appointed by the incumbent government.

“…this is an indictment on our democracy,” the statement averred.

Ghanaians, according to the PPP, should be allowed to participate effectively in the local governance.

“We cannot have proper decentralisation where people from the various regions and districts in Ghana travel to Accra to transact government business that could have been done at the local level, if authority had been properly transferred to the local levels,” it indicated.

What amazes the PPP, the statement said, was the assertion by some local government experts that the election of MMDECs would create disunity at the local level, and that the elected MMDCEs would be hostile to the sitting government to the extent that they would even try to unseat government for their party to come to power.

That argument, the PPP stressed, was absurd and for that matter could not be taken seriously.

“Why is it that Ghanaians are allowed to elect their President, Members of Parliament and Assembly Members but are denied the right to elect MMDCEs? Does it augur well for Ghana? Do we call this proper local government or decentralisation,?” the PPP quizzed.

The best way to ensure proper decentralisation, the statement said, was to give power to the people to elect their own MMDCEs.

According to the statement, elected MMDCEs will not lose cognisance of the fact that the people will hold them accountable, and will vote them out of power at the end of their tenure if they refuse to carry out developmental projects.

Against this backdrop, the PPP stressed the need for power to be given to the people.

“We strongly believe that if we do not elect our MMDCEs, there will be the continuous decline of interest in the current decentralisation process and that will be a waste of time and resources. This is because the most important person at the local level, the DCE, is not accountable to the people. Thus the Assemblyman tries in vain to secure development for the electorate,” it added.

In this regard, the PPP called on the ruling government to respect the views of Ghanaians and give them the desired and expected right to elect their MMDCEs.

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