A pressure and advocacy group, We The People Matter Movement (WTPM) has commended President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, for heeding to their calls to have Metropolitan, Municipal Chief Executives (MMDCs) elected in the country.
The convener of the group, Dr. Sa-ad Iddrisu, in a statement stated “We are grateful to President Nana Addo for listening and for considering the proposal for the elections of District Assemblies and Municipal Chief Executives in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) 2019 speech.”
“We are hopeful the decentralization process would be taken in accordance with the “African Charter on the Value and principles of Decentralization, Local Governance and Development. In the month of February, We The People Matter Movement added our voice to the calls for the elections of MMCEs at the District Assemblies’ level.
Our press release titled “Decentralization of Parliament and Elections of MCEs/DCEs in Ghana: Can we have another referendum?” was captured by many newspapers and online news portals,” the statement said.
The statement expressed the gratitude to President Nana Addo for listening and for considering the proposal for the elections of District Assemblies, Metropolitan and Municipal Chief Executives in his SONA 2019 speech.
“We are hopeful the decentralization would be taken in accordance with the “AFRICAN CHARTER ON THE VALUES AND PRINCIPLES OF DECENTRALISATION, LOCAL GOVERNANCE AND LOCAL DEVELOPMENT” that was signed by Member States of African Union (AU) in Equatorial Guinea.
As we look forward to a peaceful referendum to be conducted by the Electoral Commission (EC) on December 10, we would like to add some few suggestions to make the decentralization process a success and not a white elephant.
1. There should be clearly stated qualification criteria for MMCEs like we have for Members of Parliament in the 1992 Constitution.
2. There should be a District Development Authority (DDA) set up in each district. This should compose of the elected Chief Executive, MPs within the district, Chiefs, Institutional heads (e.g. District director of education etc) and Opinion leaders. The DDA should be the body to spearhead the affairs and development of the districts.
3. The term limit of the elected Chief Executives should not run concurrently to that of the general presidential and parliamentary elections. A separate election period should be held for the MMCEs elections and their term limit should either be 5 or 7 years. This may cost the tax payers in terms of organizing separate elections; however, the long run benefits of not turning the MMCEs elections into another political jamboree every four years like the presidential and parliamentary elections, are far greater.
4. We must give importance to the assemblymen at the local level. They are the direct representatives of the people and through them the Chief Executive will have first-hand information on the developmental needs of every locality under his/her district. This could then be tabled out to the DDA meeting by the Chief Executive.
5. There should be a law that gives power to the DDA to sue Central government when the District Assemblies Common Fund are not release on time to any of the districts.
6. The DDA should also not rely solely on the Common Fund. They should be able to generate local taxes such as property tax. Our tax laws should also be reviewed to allow a less than 1% taxes from workers’ salaries under every district. These taxes should go directly to the districts.
7. All State agencies and departments should be effectively decentralized as well. For instance, a teacher in Koforidua should not have to travel to Accra to get his/her salaries issues resolved by Controller. The district level office of Controller and Accountant General should be able to resolve the pay issue amicably. Likewise a person in Savelugu district should not have to travel to Accra to get a passport. Those services should be provided at the district level, Dr. Sa-ad Iddrisu stated.