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MPS IN FRENZIED FIGHT OVER MMDCE ELECTIONS

Politics

In the lead-up to the Finance Minister’s delivery of the 2019 mid-year Budget review in Parliament on Monday, there was a heated debate regarding amendment of Article 243 (1) of the 1992 constitution.

In the lead-up to the Finance Minister’s delivery of the 2019 mid-year Budget review in Parliament on Monday, there was a heated debate regarding amendment of Article 243 (1) of the 1992 constitution.

 

The legislative change aims to remove the President’s executive power to appoint metropolitan, municipal and district chief executives (MMDCEs).

Majority position

Article 243 (1) stipulates 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”.

The majority New Patriotic Party called for Article 243 (1) to be amended to give power to Ghanaian citizens to elect their own MMDCEs before a referendum, after which there can be other consequential amendments relating to the election of MMDCEs.

The Majority argued that once the first step of giving voters the power to elect MMDCEs is attained, the people will appreciate the commitment from a political party in government which is fulfilling a promise to give ordinary citizens the power to elect their own local representatives, to ensure better accountability at the local level.

Minority position

However, the Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, argued that the National Democratic Congress is not against the election of MMDCEs in principle, but rather against the amendment of the constitution.

He said the election of MMDCEs must be tied simultaneously to the amendment of Article 243 (3) and Article 248 (1) and (2).

Article 248 (1) says that “a candidate seeking election to a district assembly or any lower local government unit shall present himself to the electorate as an individual, and shall not use any symbol associated with any political party”.

Article 248 (2) says: “A political party shall not endorse, sponsor, offer a platform to or in any way campaign for or against a candidate seeking election to a district assembly or any lower local government.”

The Minority wants these provisions, too, to be amended, to give proper meaning to the amendment of Article 243 (1) that Parliament is seeking to achieve first.

Honourable Iddrisu said he is convinced that all the concerns raised by the Minority must be considered critically, and that the New Patriotic Party does not have the overwhelming majority it would need to get a two-thirds vote in Parliament to push the amendment through.

Double standards

During the debate, O B Amoah, Deputy Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, accused the Minority of “double standards”, saying that after supporting the election of the MMDCEs at various public forums, the NDC is now opposing the idea.

He argued that if all the NDC hierarchy, including the party’s national officers, could attend various stakeholders’ meetings to endorse such a proposal by the government and then turn around to oppose the move, the sincerity of the opposition is clearly in doubt.

Deferment

The Deputy Minister, who is also the MP for Akwapim South, pointed out that if the electorate is not given the power to choose, there will be no reason for them to determine whether the election of MMDCEs should be on a partisan basis or not.

He advised the Minority to reconsider its position and support the government’s intention to allow the election of MMDCEs.

The First Deputy Speaker, Joseph Osei-Owusu, who was presiding over the sitting, decided to defer the vote on the second reading because of the disagreement between the two parties, and urged both sides to seek consensus.