Substructures of MMDAs are Weak – Survey Findings

A Survey conducted by Ibis West Africa, an International Non-Governmental Organization working in the area of promoting Good Governance in the country, has identified weak substructures of the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies(MMDA’s)as one of the major challenges confronting the local government system. The Survey, which was conducted in July-August 2008, was carried out in 14 Districts in the country including East Gonja in the Northern Region, the nine Districts in the Upper East Region, and Tema Municipal Assembly in the Greater Accra Region among others. The Survey revealed that though some MMDA’s had their substructures including Area , Unit, and Urban Councils in place, they were very weak and non-functional, and cited for instance that in all the nine Districts in the Upper East Region, it was only the Bawku West District Assembly that had their substructures fully in place and functional. It indicated that most of MMDA’s were not responsive to the needs of their Sub District Structures and other mandated groups as enshrined in LI 1589, citing for instance the refusal of most MMDAs to transfer 5 per cent of the District Assemblies Common Fund and the 50 per cent of locally mobilized revenue to the Sub District Structures for development as required. Other instances, it noted, are the failure of Assemblies to delegate functions to the substructures, and their refusal to give out the 2 per cent of the District Assemblies Common Fund meant for persons with disabilities. The survey findings also indicated that Membership of most of the constituted substructures was skewed in favour of males, with only 15 per cent of female members. The non-participation of the District substructures and other stakeholder groups in budget preparation and fee-fixing resolution was another problem area identified among some of the MMDAs. The Survey also found out that most of the MMDAs had no data base for revenue generation and this made it difficult for them to meet their budget target. It also revealed that there were low Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) awareness of development issues and tools of engagement, few CSOs engagement with duty bearers at the MMDAs level, very minimal organized women groups, and network alliances to enhance citizens bargaining power, among others. The Findings however indicated that all the 14 Districts where the research was carried out had their Medium Term Development Plans in place that complied with the National Development Plan Guidelines. The Assemblies also had in place planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation Units; District Planning Coordinating Units fully constituted and functioning; and indicated that all the accountability systems including MDCEs address the issue of revenue and expenditure at assembly meetings, People’s Assemblies, and MMDA’s engagements with the Media. The research survey recommended that MMDAs should respond to their mandate to Sub District Structures and interest groups, address gender imbalances at various levels of the MMDAs system, improve the knowledge of Assembly members on their roles and on the local Governance system, and strengthen the functioning of MMDAs sub structures. It also recommended the institution of effective mechanisms to promote public participation in fee-fixing resolution and budget preparation processes, heighten the awareness of gender issues in planning and budgeting, strengthen the capacity of CSOs to form networks and alliances to strengthen their bargaining power, and the strengthening of women’s groups to enable them to mobilize other women for participation. The Survey which was entitled “State of Local Governance in Selected MMDAs”, was presented by Alexis Ayamdor Adugdaa, a Programme Facilitator of Ibis, at a stakeholders’ forum in Bolgatanga, which brought together all District Chief Executives and District Coordinating Directors from the Upper East Region. The Purpose of the forum was to brainstorm on strategies on how to actively encourage citizens’ participation in Local Governance, and also to ensure the successful implementation of the decentralization process by MMDA’s.