NEWS COMMENTARY DISCUSSED PRESIDENT AKUFO ADDO’S LONG-AWAITED FRESH APPOINTMENTS TO POSITIONS OF MMDCEs & CITIZENS EXPECTATION OF MORE ACCOUNTABILITY WITHIN GHANA’S LOCAL GOVERNANCE.
BY REBECCA EKPE, A JOURNALIST.
As the clock ticks in the countdown for the announcement of appointment to the position of Metropolitan, Municipal, District Chief Executives, MMDCEs some people have started speculating on some possible names. Also, there have been talks in some circles that the delay in announcing the next batch of MMDCEs is contributing to retrogression in Ghana’s local governance architecture. Government has been openly criticised for the lack of progress in appointing new MMDCEs almost eight months, into a new administration. This has however been rebutted by the Presidency. Director of Communications at the Presidency, Eugene Arhin is quoted to have said that there are no vacuums within the leadership of the Assemblies because the day to day administration of the local governance structure is still in place.
The caveat is that the Assemblies cannot take monumental decisions, with huge financial implications, because they are in transit. District Assemblies are considered an integral part of a governance structure because they represent the grassroots. Governance from the grassroots is very critical to the entire democratic process, because it involves the people.
What this means is that critically any decision that does not have the buy-in of the people is likely not to come to fruition. Ghana’s 1992 Constitution Article 243 (1) gives the President power to appoint MMDCEs. Approval by a two third majority of Assembly Members is, however, needed to keep the President’s nominee as the Metropolitan, Municipal, or District Chief Executive. This is the hurdle that each appointee would have to go through. Already, there are some agitations in some circles where, a vote of no confidence amongst other requests, have been put in motion to push for a change in the hierarchy of the Assembly, due to varied reasons. An example is in the Upper East Region, where Assembly Members have threatened to boycott the confirmation of MMDCEs over poor conditions of service.
The Upper East Regional Chapter of the Ghana Association of Assembly Members say they want the government to pay assembly members across the country a flat rate of gratuities from the Consolidated Fund. They also want the government to set aside 5% from the District Assemblies Common Fund dubbed Electoral Area Development Fund, to initiate development projects in their electoral areas. They also want the government to initiate measures to pay them monthly allowances and assist them to acquire vehicles on a tax-free basis to effectively execute their duties. They are not alone in the demands. The Greater Accra Regional Minister, Henry Quartey, has threatened to cause the dismissal of any Metropolitan, Municipal or District Chief Executives in the region, who do not perform in their roles. According to him, the performance of MMDCEs in Accra will be assessed every six months, after which, recommendations would be made for the dismissal of low-performing officials. He insists that the job of MMDCEs is not limited to the confines of their offices but must include fieldwork. This kind of accountability some say is far lacking in the governance structure especially the local governance structure.
With these, the Assemblies would have been much more progressive than they seem to be now. As the folder containing the list of eligible persons for nomination as Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives has been presented to President Akufo-Addo for action, it is hoped the names would be announced soon, so that they would continue to propel the development and implementation of government policies at the grassroots. It is obvious the appointment process has not been easy for both the appointing authority and even the would-be MMDCEs. All citizens’ demand is a robust, efficient and effective decentralisation and democratic governance of Ghana’s local governance with an empowered citizenry.