Mr Kwamena Ahwoi, a lecturer at GIMPA, is suggesting that government cedes the right to appoint 30 percent of the membership of District, Municipal and Metropolitan ((MMDCEs) Assemblies to traditional authorities.
Currently, the President does the appointment in consultation with traditional rulers.
Speaking at a consultative workshop on 20 years of Decentralisation in Ghana, Mr Ahowi said government’s continuous direct appointment to the assemblies was defeating the non-partisan nature of the assemblies since mostly only ruling party supporters get the positions.
The two-day workshop was organised by Public Agenda newspaper and the Institute of Local Government Studies with support from the German Development Cooperation. It follows a similar one held last month for the southern sector at Dodowa.
Mr Ahwoi said since the assemblies and traditional rulers sought the welfare of the people, it was only good that the two institutions work very closely with each other to enhance development.
According to him, giving the chance to the traditional rulers as was the practise in the early 1950s would promote harmony and enhance the work of the assemblies.
Dr Callistus Mahama of the Institute of Local Government Studies said lack of clarity in the roles of traditional authorities had often resulted in conflict with local government appointees.
He said neither the constitution nor the Local Government Act had made provision for institutional representation of chiefs in either the district assembly or sub-district structure or even spelt out what kind of relationship should exist between the assemblies and the traditional authorities.
“This purposive silence makes some assemblies to stay clear from the traditional authorities while others forge informal but cordial relationships with TAs in their localities to facilitate the execution of their development agenda especially in revenue or resource mobilisation,” Dr Mahama said.
Some of the areas of conflict include protocol at the local level and issues of precedence, representation of traditional authorities on assemblies, natural resource management among others.
The Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief executives are enjoined to consult the traditional leaders and other interest groups in the appointment of representatives to various administrative structures.
Dr Mahama said to gain the advantages in effective collaboration for planning, accountability to the people, effective community mobilisation and optimum use of local resources the relationship between the local government and traditional authorities must be streamlined and harmonised.
Pemampem Yaw Kagbrese V, Omahene of Yeji and Vice President of the Brong Ahafo Regional House of Chiefs, said MMDCEs only turn to traditional rulers to solicit their help in times of challenges and stressed the need for consistency in their relations.
He said as agents of development in their communities it was important that a good relationship was forged between officials at the local government level and the chiefs to promote growth.
He called for increase in the representation of traditional authorities at the district assemblies to make them active participants in the democratisation process for sustainable development.
However, the position to give the 30 percent appointment slot to the traditional leaders did not go down well with DCEs who attended the workshop.
They argued that exclusion of the traditional leaders from participation in the district assemblies be maintained to ensure that they remained politically neutral to command the respect of all.
According to them, providing the chiefs the opportunity to appoint 30 percent of membership would also give them the right to select people who would listen to them and oppose every move of the DCE, especially in situations where the traditional leader did not support the appointment.
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