The issue of whether Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief executives (MMDCEs) should be elected or not took centre stage at a workshop on local governance and the 2010 District Assembly Elections at Konongo as participants were divided over the issue.
Not willing to accept each other's position on the issue, the opposing participants expressed strong views in their attempts to convince their opponents but to no avail.
The workshop, which was organised by the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), was funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and was attended by assembly members, traditional rulers and representatives of political parties in the municipality.
Mr. George Kyei-Barfour, a former President of the National Association of Local Athorities of Ghana (NALAG) who argued in favour of the election of the MMDCEs, said the current practice was inconsistent with chapter 20 of the 1992 constitution which frowns on partisan politics in the decentralisation process.
He said the election of the MMDCEs would not only ensure their independence from governmental control but also enjoy the support and confidence of the people since they voted them to office.
He said since MMDCEs were appointed by the President, they were compelled to satisfy party members at the expense of majority of the people, thereby defeating the purpose of the decentralisation concept.
Mr. Kyei-Barfour also criticised the appointment of Government Appointees to the assemblies and said it was an avenue to reward party faithful.
However, his views were strongly opposed by other participants who argued that since the President's nominee could only be confirmed by assembly members representing their electoral areas, it followed that it was the people who elected the MMDCEs.
They argued that in the event a person belonging to an opposition party was elected Chief Executive, it could lead to collision between him and the President because they would not share the same political ideology.
According to them, Ghana's democracy was still young and until such a time when the nation could practice western democracies where decentralisation was devoid of partisan politics, the election of MMDCEs was not advisable.
Mr. Samuel Akuamoah, Director in charge of Programmes at the NCCE Headquarters, said Ghana's successful transition from one government to another was commendable but should not be a yardstick to suggest that all was well with the democratic dispensation.
He said the power of governance belonged to the people and stressed the need for the people to be involved in local governance to reflect the true meaning of decentralisation.
Mr. Thomas Osei-Bonsu, the Municipal Chief Executive for Asante Akim North, expressed worry about the general apathy of the people on issues of national interest and the ineffectiveness of the grassroots structures of the local government system which he said was affecting the performance of the assembly.
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