I promised, last week, to make a brief comment on the abortive referendum by explaining why it is victory for the “NO” campaign and for Ghana, and then to give you reasons to vote women and persons with disability on December 17.
I have written and advocated a thousand-and-one-reasons Article 55(3) must be left undisturbed by the destructive partisanship. MMDCEs can and must be elected by parliament amending Article 243(1) and all associated provisions and laws. It is absolutely false, misleading or sheer ignorance should anyone suggest this cannot be done without amending Article 55(3). The basic principle of implied rule (generalia specialibus non derogant) in law teaches that we could actually have partisan elections for MMDCEs without disturbing Article 55(3), but we should not. Ghana will not be the first to have nonpartisan elected MMDCEs because other countries including Canada and India have done this successfully.
Let’s protest and protect the wisdom guiding the framers of the Constitution in making provision for Article 55(3).
I wholeheartedly adopted the reasons advanced by the Constitution Review Commission (as shared by Justice Srem Sai below) for rejecting partisan election for MMDCEs until nation-wrecking polarisation, destruction and grand corruption is done away with or minimised.
The Constitution Review Commission had thorough and extensive consultations before coming out with its findings. They had direct interactions with millions of Ghanaians, both home and elsewhere; and, on top of that, did diligent historical and international comparative analyses. This is what they found on the question of partisan local government:
“53. The Commission, however, observes that where local elections are held on partisan bases, nomination rules determined and deployed by national parties can serve as impediments to accountability. It also weakens local government systems.
54. The Commission observes that as a result of the corruption in Ghana’s body politic, partisan politics in local elections may lead to the erosion of popular support for local assemblies.
55. The Commission observes with concern that, in jurisdictions where political parties play a role in the elections at the local level, without clear rules that stipulate the inclusion of certain disadvantaged or minority segments of society, the system may easily engender dominance by majority groups, more powerful social groups and persons who have enough money to spread around for the purpose of attracting votes.
56. The Commission observes that the Committee of Experts which drafted the proposals for the1992 Constitution noted that the non-partisan nature of the District Assemblies has the potential to facilitate the mobilization of the people at the local level and is more conducive to consensus formation, factors that are crucial to development efforts at the grassroots level.
57. The Commission further observes that at the Consultative Assembly, ― the mode of elections at the local level‖ was one of the topical issues that engaged the minds of the members of the Public Services Committee of the Assembly, tasked to deliberate on the subject matter of Decentralisation and Local Government. The Assembly ultimately decided to retain a non-partisan local government system as first established in 1988.”
In the meantime, let’s keep faith with the constitutional ideal by voting for women and persons with disability on December 17. I have moderated or made presentations at many anti-corruption fora, local and international in the last two months, and one thing is sure, women are not or less corrupt.
Article 36 (6) of the Constitution provides that “[t]he State shall afford equality of economic opportunity to all citizens; and, in particular, the State shall take all necessary steps so as to ensure the full integration of women into the mainstream of the economic development of Ghana.”
Let’s start by reserving the 30% appointments to the Assemblies for women and persons with disabilities. By the way, the evidence is that women are a lot more efficient managing these resources, but how can we accelerate the pace of development in our communities when we leave out the majority who are women (51.2%) and persons with disability (3%) in key decision making roles?
Like the district assembly members.? The data over the years on the representation of women and persons with disability in Ghana at the district level is very abysmal as per the table below:
We have succeeded in discouraging them from participating even in these local governance. Out of the 18,510 nominations received by the Electoral Commission, male nominations received were 17,601 whereas females were only 909. For the Unit Committee out of a total of 38,520, the male nominations received were 34,769 but the females were only 3751. The data for persons with disability although not available are even worse than the females. Reports from the Ghana Federation of Disability Organizations (GFD) indicate that only 2 persons with disabilities are Assembly members in the Eastern Region. Currently, there is no person with disability in the Parliament of Ghana and yet, Persons with Disabilities have shown that when given the opportunity they can serve with distinction.
In Parliament, only 38 of the 275 Parliamentarians are women and at the Assembly level, the women are only 7.6% out of a total of 9,423 members. The situation of representation of persons with disability is even worse, according to the Henry Djaba Memorial Foundation.
While we await passage of the affirmative action bill into law, we must at all times, and at this moment, go to the polls to demonstrate and promote good and inclusive governance as dictated by our constitution by voting for women and persons with disabilities.
Samson Lardy ANYENINI
December 14, 2019