A governance think tank, Governance Watch Ghana has also waded into the controversial debate to campaign for either Yes or No in the 17th December referendum to make room partisan election of District Assembly and unit committee members. The electoral commission has announced to the general public that on the 17th December, 2019, the referendum to accept partisan elections of Assembly members and unit committee members on a partisan lines will take place and that a yellow colour in the referendum would denote a “YES” vote while dark brown is for a “NO” vote and at least 75 per cent of votes of the 40 per cent expected registered voters who vote in favour of the exercise will pave way for subsequent district level elections to be held along party lines
But in a press release issued and signed by the Executive Director of Governance Watch Ghana, Stephen Kwabena Attuh said “Having examined the proposal for the 17th December referendum which has opened the space to campaign for YES or NO votes for the question put out with the objective of amending Article 55(3) of the 1992 Constitution to allow the introduction of partisanship in our District Assembly elections, we have come to a firm conclusion that a NO vote in this regard, is appropriate for the development of our country”.
READ FULL TEXT OF THE RELEASE
GOVERNANCE WATCH GHANA ON THE 17TH DECEMBER PROPOSED REFERENDUM
Having examined the proposal for the 17th December referendum which has opened the space to campaign for YES or NO votes for the question put out with the objective of amending Article 55(3) of the 1992 Constitution to allow the introduction of partisanship in our District Assembly elections, we have come to a firm conclusion that a NO vote in this regard, is appropriate for the development of our country.
Article 55(3), in its original wisdom, prohibits partisanship at the District Assembly level or lower local government units. Article 248 (1) of the 1992 Constitution enjoins individuals who seek to stand for District Assembly elections or any lower local government positions to contest such elections devoid of the use of symbols associated with any political party.
We have taken cognizance of a convenient debate by those seeking to gather YES votes to the effect that already, there are unseen political hands that support or sponsor candidates for District Assembly elections and offices lower in the local government space. As a result, they advocate that our citizens are advised to vote to allow such a phenomenon to continue.
As they all agree, the conduct offends the dictates of the 1992 Constitution. To the extent that such activities are already illegal, must our nation show weakness in dealing with such phenomenon rather than enforcing the law to ensure that the right things are done?
Considering the acrimonious nature of politics at the national stage which results in divisiveness, we are of the view that, considering the communal nature of our localities, and the bond that exists between Assembly Members and their electoral areas are not jeopardized with the introduction of partisanship in that critical area of our governance systems.
The system, in its current form, has seen individuals, based on their own merits, stand for elections and get elected by their electoral areas for what they are able to do for them. Introducing partisanship in this area would draw on the political interests of political parties rather than focusing on candidates who can best address the challenges of the people in our localities.
We are of the firm belief that, considering our current state as a nation with regards to politics, which had resulted in the loss of jobs by innocent citizens for the offense of the political parties they simply belong to, should not be deployed to the local levels. We must, as a people, demand that we keep our assemblies to attend to our collective interests and not those of political parties.
For these reasons, Governance Watch Ghana advocates for NO votes at the impending referendum of 17th December, 2019 as we believe NO vote would consolidate the bond that exists in our communities at the District Assembly level. Government can proceed to allow the elections of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCES) without amending Article 55(3) of the 1992 Constitution if it so wish to do.
Stephen Kwabena Attuh
Fred Adomako Williams
(Deputy Executive Director)