In May 2019, the Government laid a bill in Parliament to allow political parties to sponsor candidates for district assembly elections. The Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2018 was to amend Article 55 (3) of the 1992 Constitution on the sponsorship of candidates for public office.
Come December 17th 2019, Ghanaians will be asked a specific question; “Are you in favour of the Bill to amend Clause 3 of Article 55 of the 1992 Constitution to allow Political Parties to sponsor Candidates for election to District Assemblies or Lower Local Government Units? “YES or NO”. This question is being put to a referendum because article 55 is an entrenched clause.
In the streets of Accra, most Ghanaians feel that MMDCEs and public office holders at the District Assemblies should be elected but not through the involvement or sponsorship of political parties. They argue that political parties such as the NPP and NDC have engulfed national space with corruption, unfairness and violence. Any legislation that restrains them from participating in the Distrcit Assembly and lower local Government elections will be better in consolidating our democracy.
According to Kosi Dedey, an astute Nkrumahist who has written an opinion on this subject, this referendum does not address the fundamental desire of many Ghanaians to elect their Metropolitan/Municipal or District Chief Executives (MMDCEs). The referendum is therefore secondary to the desires of many Ghanaians. The political parties and politicians have cleverly placed their interest above those of many Ghanaians.
In the view of people like Kosi Dedey, the fundamental desire of Ghanaians to elect their MMDCEs can only be addressed through an amendment of Article 243 of the 1992 Constitution in Parliament since this is not an entrenched clause. ” This process is cheaper, faster and should be the first logical step taken before seeking the interest of the political parties through a referendum if necessary at all”, he added.
However, it would be recalled that on February 20, 2019, the Government laid a bill in Parliament to allow for the election of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) in the country. That bill was to amend Article 243 (1) of the Constitution to provide for a District Chief Executive to be elected by universal adult suffrage within a district.
The Constitution says in Article 243 (1) that “there shall be a District Chief Executive for every district who shall be appointed by the President with the prior approval of not less than two-thirds majority of members of the Assembly present and voting at the meeting.” This law by indication has become secondary to the political class, according to Kosi Dedey, in the effort at empowering local Assemblies through a referendum to determine a limitation of political parties or ruling-elites in influencing choices of MMDCEs.
On the contrary, some Ghanaians state that the ruling-political class would want to let Ghanaians decide on amending Article 55 (3), as a priority, to allow political party involvement in election of public officers in District Assemblies or Lower Local Government units so that an official green light is given to something which already exists in the shadows.
Ghanaians would have to decide on the fate of this law in the upcoming referendum.