RE: Press Statement On The Referendum On Local Elections

On November 14, 2019, we issued a press statement to express the views of the National House of Chiefs (the House) on the forthcoming referendum to allow partisan politics in our local elections. 

Our attention has been drawn to statements allegedly made by a colleague member of the House, The Ogyeahoho, Yaw Gyebi II, Sefwi Anhwiasohene, denying the fact that the House and its Standing Committeediscussed the referen dum, expressed their concerns, and adopted a position on the matter.

To set the records straight we present below the background to the above-referenced press statement.

1. Visit to the House by the Deputy Minister of Local Government 
 
The Deputy Minister for Local Government and Rural Development, Hon. Kwasi Boateng Adjei and his team were in the House on December, 19, 2018 at the invitation of the House, to discuss the subject matter of the election of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCE’s). 

He stated that, government had decided that MMDCE’s should be elected on partisan basis and as a result, the Ministry had developed a road map to ensure the realization of the policy.  

The main presentation was delivered by Dr. Oduro Osae, Technical Director of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development.

In response to some issues and questions raised by Nananom after his presentation, Dr. Oduro Osae stated that, “the consensus among stakeholders was that election of MMDCE should be done on partisan basis.  He stated that, he had no answer at the moment for the role that Traditional Authorities would play in the election of MMDCE’s. 

Dr. Osae also said after amending Article 55 (3), another consequential Article that would be amended was Article 243 (1) so that MMDCE’s would not be appointed, but elected.”

“Togbe President directed the Governance and Development and the Legal Affairs Committees of the House to meet and prepare a position paper on the election of MMDCE’s for the consideration of the House, and subsequent presentation to government.”

(Minutes of meeting of the National House of Chiefs, Wednesday, 19th December 2018)

2. Report of Nana S. Krobea Asante 
Asokorehene and Chairman of the Committee onLegal Affairs

Nana Asante, Chairman of the Committee on Legal Affairs, prepared and submitted to the House a report dated 22nd January 2019. Here are excerpts from Nana’s report:

“The National House of Chiefs supports the current policy of Government to effect constitutional amendments to ensure that chief executives of District, Municipal and Metropolitan Assemblies would be elected, not appointed officials.

However, the current focus is on holding a referendum to amend Article 55(3) of the Constitution to permit the introduction of partisan politics into local government.”

“The House should strongly object to the notion that membership of local assemblies should exclusively comprise representatives of political parties, as in Parliament.”

“It has to be pointed out incidentally, that the introduction of partisan policies into local government should not be accompanied by the unwholesome political culture associated with partisan politics.

The incidence of exclusiveness, the unhealthy polarization of all issues, the marginalization of citizens who do not belong to the ruling party, and the exclusion of skilled manpower on partisan grounds would be detrimental to development and good governance at the local level. Currently the appointment of 30% Government nominees to local assemblies has been totally vitiated by partisan politics, with the result that appointments are determined by party membership to the virtual exclusion of traditional authorities which are usually allocated a minimal representation by the executive of the ruling party – a total travesty of principles of good governance.

It has been argued that the proposed local government reforms would ultimately lead to inclusive government in the country. This is only marginally valid in the sense that the election of chief executives of districts etc. could result in the coexistence of central government and local government controlled by different political parties. However, at the local level experience clearly demonstrates that the culture of “winner takes all” would prevail to the detriment of united development endeavours.

It should also be pointed out that effective decentralization would be adversely affected by the control of local parties by the headquarters of national political parties.”

“It is manifestly inaccurate to declare to the general public that the amendment of Article 55(3) would automatically result in the introduction of the system of electing chief executives of Local Assemblies.”

3. Standing Committee Meeting of 26th February, 2019:
Adoption of Nana Asante’s Report

The Standing Committee, at its meeting on 26th February, 2019, discussed and adopted Nana Asante’s report “as the position of the House”, as captured as follows in the minutes of that meeting:

“The election of MMDCE’s on partisan basis was discussed by the Committee……

The committee also adopted a memorandum on the election of MMDCE’s submitted by Nana Susubribi Krobea Asante, Asokorehene as the position of the House. The Acting Registrar was directed to write to the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development on the matter.”

 

Present at that meeting were fourteen (14) members (including The Ogyeahoho, Yaw Gyebi II, Sefwi Anhwiasohene) of the eighteen (18) member Standing Committee.

4. General Meeting of 27th February, 2019

The House at its meeting on 27th February, 2019, had a final discussion on the election of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCE’s) through partisan elections. Togbe President asked for further comments, if any, on the Chairman of the Committee on Legal Affairs,Nana Susubribi Krobea Asante, Asokorehene’smemorandum, and further directed the Governance and Development Committee to discuss the matter and submit their comments.

The Ogyeahoho, Yaw Gyebi II, Sefwi Anhwiasohene, was at the meeting.

5. Standing Committee Meeting of 12th June, 2019:
Submission to the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development.

The Acting Registrar informed the Standing Committee, at its 12th June, 2019 meeting, that he had submitted the comments of the House on the election of Metropolitan, Municipal, District Chief Executives to the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development. The House is yet to receive a response from the Ministry.

The Ogyeahoho, Yaw Gyebi II, Sefwi Anhwiasohene, was at the meeting.

6. Multi-Stakeholder Conference on the Upcoming Referendum
 
The position of the House as captured in Nana Asante’s report was also presented to the Multi-Stakeholder Conference held at the Bank of Ghana Auditorium, Legon, on 7th June, 2019. 

 7. As shown by the above summary:
 

i) The proposed referendum to allow partisan politics in our local elections was thoroughly discussed at the National House of Chiefs, both by the Standing Committee and the General Meeting.
ii) The report presented by the Chairman of the Committee on Legal Affairs, Nana Krobea Asante, which formed the basis of the recent press statement, was adopted “as the position of the House”, and it included the recommendation that,
“The House should strongly object to the notion that membership of local assemblies should exclusively comprise representatives of political parties, as in Parliament.”

iii) Any suggestions that the proposed referendum to allow partisan politics in our local elections was not discussed by the House is not only dishonest, butwanton mischief.
 

 

Togbe Afede XIV, President                                        
Daasebre Nana Kwebu Ewusi VII, Vice President

November 16, 2019

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