Ghanaians should demand their right to vote for DCE's

Dr Paa Kwesi Nduom, Election 2008 flag bearer of the Convention People's Party on Tuesday called on Ghanaians to support the proposal for the election of District Chief Executives (DCE's) and assembly members. He said the current local governance system, which allowed government appointees to control the assemblies was a drawback to development. Dr Nduom was speaking at the second in the series of his "Agenda for Change" initiative, which he said would bring transformation to all sectors of the economy. The Change agenda will focus on a series of media interactions and consultations with the Institute of Economic Affairs and the Centre for Democratic Development Ghana, on burning national issues. It also seeks to bring transformation in education, a new regime of industrialisation, and governance. Dr Nduom noted that even though successive governments dating back to independence committed themselves to some form of decentralisation, they ended up hanging on to local authorities in order to control the people. He said the current system of local governance, was flawed by provisions in the 1992 Constitution, which was largely ineffective and did not promote development. Dr Nduom observed that some programmes on decentralisation coupled with projects by international development partners sometimes weakened the national resolve to implement difficult reforms. He said there was the need to remove the combined suffocating influences of the President, Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development and regional ministers from the district assemblies to facilitate the concentration of development on the needs of the local people. Dr Nduom noted that the problem of empowering the people at the local level had persisted because certain flaws in Article 240 (1) of the 1992 Constitution had given too much powers to the President to appoint and dismiss district functionaries. He said the Rawlings regime held on to the appointment of DCEs thinking that it would be a tool to consolidate its hold on the presidency but lost power to the New Patriotic Party (NPP), which also kept the status quo. Dr Nduom said the NPP had the perception that appointment of DCEs would build the political strength of the party yet it lost power. He said this was an indication that political control over DCEs and the assemblies to strengthen the hold of a party was not possible. "I believe that the people of Ghana want the right to elect those who rule them and make laws in their localities to gain their eyes, ears and minds. "The people want the right to use the ballot box to select and sack those who are supposed to serve them.This right must be given by amending the relevant sections of the Constitution to give power back to the people. "If the people are smart and discerning enough to cast a ballot to elect a Member of Parliament and a president, they are definitely smart and discerning enough to cast a ballot to elect a district chief executive and assembly members", he said.