Ms Josephine Nkrumah, the Chairperson of the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), has said the amendment of article 55 (3) of the 1992 Constitution will allow political parties to participate in district level elections and promote true participatory democracy.
She said the process would empower the citizens to directly elect competent leaders who would work for the development of communities, leading to the provision of quality of services and the promotion of good inclusive local governance.
The Chairperson urged the citizenry to fully participate in the upcoming district level elections as well as the referendum on December 17, to amend the entrenched provision that bans political parties from taking part in district-level elections.
Ms Nkrumah made the appeal in Bolgatanga during the regional launch of a public sensitization and awareness-raising campaign on the district level elections and referendum for the amendment of Article 55 (3) of the Constitution.
Currently, the Constitution has vested only the president with the authority to nominate and subsequently appoint various Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) and has further banned political parties from sponsoring candidates in the district level elections.
This has created lack of accountability, corruption and underdevelopment, Ms Nkrumah said.
The referendum, which is scheduled to take place alongside the district level elections, seeks to amend Article 55(3) of the 1992 Constitution, which is an entrenched provision, to allow political parties to participate in local governance elections including the election of MMDCEs and assembly members along party lines.
Parliament has already begun the process to amend Article 243(1) to allow MMDCEs to be elected directly by the electorates and when the proposal is approved during the referendum, MMDCEs and assembly members would be elected directly by the electorates and on political party lines.
For this to happen, Ms Nkrumah said “the referendum must garner at least 40 per cent voter turnout of the total registered voters in the country and at least 75 per cent of that number must vote yes to the proposal”.
She said over the years, district-level elections have recorded low patronage with 35 per cent being the highest turn out to have ever been recorded.
Ms Nkrumah said civic education is a shared responsibility and called on all key stakeholders including MMDCEs, religious and traditional leaders among others, to assist the Commission to intensify the sensitization drive to make the citizenry appreciate the significance of the December 17 referendum.
Mr Pontius Pilate Baba Apaabey, the Regional Director of the NCCE, said the Commission is undertaking the nationwide exercise in collaboration with the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, the Electoral Commission and the Information Services Department and called on the youth to fully participate in the referendum and the district level elections.
Mr Frank Adongo Fuseini, the Deputy Regional Minister, said the election of MMDCEs by the electorates would eliminate the winner takes all syndrome and improve the quality of governance at the local level.