The People’s National Convention (PNC) has declared it is backing the ‘NO’ campaign in the upcoming December 17, Referendum.
The party is one of the country’s smaller opposition parties.
The National Chairman of the party, Bernard Mornah says among other things, introducing partisan politics at the district assemblies and lower government units would make Ghana’s democracy more expensive than it already is.
He explained currently, elections are held for constituency executives and later primaries are also held for parliamentary aspirants.
When partisan politics is introduced to the district assemblies, Mornah explained that political parties must now hold elections for even unit committee executives.
Primaries would have to be held to select candidates who would stand on the parties’ ticket in the Unit Committee elections and the Assembly elections as well.
Then primaries would also have to be held to select a candidate for the party for the MMDCE elections.
This, Mr Mornah said is too much of a financial burden on the party and the individual.
The election of MMDCEs
Parliament is currently in the process of amending Article 243/1 of the Constitution to make the position of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) elected, taking away the appointing power of the President.
The government is fiercely campaigning for Article 55/3 of the Constitution to be amended to allow political parties to participate in local assembly elections.
When that happens, political parties can field candidates for the MMDCE elections, a system the ‘YES’ campaigners say would give the smaller parties — who are almost extinct at the national level — some control.
But Bernard Mornah, who speaks for one of such parties said such arguments are based on ignorance about how the local government system works.
He insists elections to the office of MMDCEs must happen but it must be based on a non-partisan basis.
The biggest opposition party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) who is leading the charge for the ‘NO’ campaign say there is too much polarity along with partisan basis at the national level and that must not be transferred to the local government level.
Experts who back the ‘NO’ campaign say, like, MPs, MMDCEs elected along party lines would simply tow party lines instead of focussing on what the community needs.
The ‘YES’ campaigners insist partisan politics must be introduced to all sectors of the country’s body politic.
To amend Article 55/3, at least 40 per cent of voters must vote in the referendum and 75 per cent must back the amendment for it to pass.
This, some experts fear may not be achieved if the NDC does not change its stance against the amendment.
For the amendment of Article 243/1 to get MMDCEs elected, Parliament needs a two-thirds majority of all members to pass it.
Since the governing NPP is 14 votes short of that threshold, they need the NDC to pass the amendment bill.
However, the NDC says it cannot support the government because the bill is not complete.
The bill does not include amendment of other Articles and clauses which gives the President the power to fire an MMDCE.
This, the NDC says doesn’t make sense since the President can still fire an MMDCE who has been elected through Universal Adults Suffrage.