RETHINKING DECENTRALIZATION AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT IN GHANA PROPOSALS FOR AMENDMENT
Kwamena Ahwoi's paper, which is a distillation of two separate papers that he presented to the Constitutional Review Commission and The Institute of Economic Affair's 'Ghana Political Parties Programme respectively, identifies twelve areas of Ghana's local government and decentralization system for critical analysis. It ends with a recommendation that the majority of the identified areas be subjected to constitutional or legislative amendment.
Beginning with the conceptual issue of decentralization, the author argues for the different meanings of decentralization at the national,regional, district and sub-district levels to be articulated in the Constitution. He also proposes that the power given to the President to create districts in the Local Government Act, 1993, Act 462, should be taken away and vested in the Electoral Commission with the prior approval of Parliament.
The author next makes the controversial proposal that the power to appoint 30 per cent of the members of the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) should be taken away from the President and vested in the Regional Houses of Chiefs, explaining that the power has been bastardized by successive Presidents to appoint their party executives and cronies to the Assemblies instead of the original rationale of using the provision to infuse expertise into the Assemblies and to cater for marginalized and disadvantaged groups. He is of the view that at the heart of the conflict and rivalry between Members of Parliament (MPs) and District Chief Executives (DCEs) is the MPs' membership of the MMDAs and therefore makes the case for their exclusion from the Assemblies to enable them concentrate on their duties as national legislators. The author calls for a modification of the present system of selecting DCEs. He would like DCEs to be nominated by the President,interviewed by the Public Services Commission for their competence and voted for directly by the district electorate. Using very cogent and persuasive arguments, he also makes a case for the following positions:
·Presidential, Parliamentary, District Assembly and Unit Committee elections should all be held on the same day;
.The non-partisan nature of the local government system should remain;
·The Regional Coordinating Councils (RCCs) must be recognized as part of the Central Government in the national governance system, but they should be strengthened to enable them play the roles assigned to them in the Constitution and in the Local Government Act;
·The relationship between the Regional Ministers and the DCEs must be clearly defined;
·Presiding Members should be elected by two-thirds majority of the members of the MMDAs present and voting;
·The Office of the Administrator of the District Assemblies Common Fund must be established as an independent institution of the Constitution.
The author concludes with the novelty recommendation that the two term limit on the tenure of the DCE should be removed and that a President must be able to retain in office, beyond the 8 years a performing DCE. His rationale is that the restriction is the reason for the insecurity felt by DCEs and forms the basis for their desire to be MPs, thus fuelling the tensions and the conflicts between DCEs and MPS. ...