ASSEMBLIES NOW NDC OFFICES Charges frustrated former Presiding Member
From Sebastian R. Freiku, Kumasi
A former Presiding Member of the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA), Nana Kofi Senyah, has alleged that the various Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) in the country are all working for the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC).
In fact, most of them are like NDC offices, rather than assemblies taking care of the various communities.
He said the local government structures at the various Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assembles, under the current administration, have broken down, and with the elections near, all assemblies are actively campaigning for the NDC to return to power, instead of catering for the people.
Nana Senyah, who is the Assembly Member for New Suame in Kumasi, said the local government system under the current administration is going through negative changes and tremendous set backs, at the expense of development.
Giving an overview of the Local Government system, Nana Senyah, who is also a former National Chairman of the Association of Presiding Members, said the welfare of assembly members and members of the various Unit Committees had worsened.
He said Unit Committees members and other key positions in the assemblies have been replaced by government appointees, all, but in name, who are invariably NDC operatives, thus undermining their role and the authority in the local government system.
Nana Senyah charged that the highly partisan Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives have usurped the powers of Assembly Members and the Unit Committees, and are working closely with government appointees and their cronies to achieve the objective of the party in government, and satisfying the selfish ends of the party, instead of working with the elected members of the localities with the right structures to bring development to the lives of the people and the communities.
He said the KMA, where he served as Presiding Member on four occasions, was no exception, because there was massive manipulation and corruption at most of the sub-metro structures of the KMA.
According to him, the committee system is cancerous, and that most of the structures are malfunctioning, even though section 19 (1) of Act 462 of 1993 provides thus: “There shall be established an executive committee of a District Assembly, which shall be responsible for the performance of the executive and administrative functions of the District Assemblies.”
He said Section 24 (1) of Act 462 of 1993 also establishes the Sub Committees of the Executive Committee, which functions along the lines of the Cabinet of the Executive arm of the Central Government, which has constitutional or legal functions as provided by Article 76 (2) of the Constitution of Ghana, which states: “Cabinet shall assist the President in the determination of general policy of the government.”
Nana Senyah told The Chronicle that assembly members were no longer allowed to exercise their functions in accordance with the legal framework establishing their functions. Rather, the Central Government, which should, through the Regional Coordinating Councils monitor, co-ordinate and evaluate the activities of these assembles, was rather using the assemblies as a political forum for an NDC agenda.
He was emphatic that assembly members and unit committee members have been relegated to the background, a situation which led to the subversion of the Section 4 (1) of the Local Government Act 462 of 1993, when the District Level elections of August 2010 were postponed and delayed for more than five months, during which time the MMDCEs had a field day to manipulate the assemblies and deepen corruption in the system.
The former PM pointed out the anomaly, by referring to the Local Government Act 462, which states that “Each District Assembly shall be a body corporate with perpetual succession and a common seal, and may sue or be sued in its own name,” and questioned the relevance of the NDC manifesto which promised to deepen local level democracy, accelerate decentralisation, and ensure local level development and empowerment.
The veteran local government operative said local level democracy had rather broken down throughout the District Assemblies, under the current administration, because the MMDCEs had constituted themselves into sole authorities, since the assembly members, in most cases, have no hand or say in the selection and disbursement of projects and public funds.
Nana Senyah disclosed that the various Sub-Metro Councils at the KMA, for instance, were nothing, but an extension of the current government’s party offices, in that the composition of the Sub-Metro Councils have been turned upside down, with a composition of 70% government appointees and 30% elected assembly members, thus disorganising the very statutory structures like the unit committees and assembly members, thus preventing them from functioning effectively.
He bemoaned the plight of assembly members, saying while members of parliament are almost through with the demand for a pay rise of GH¢7,200, a month, assembly and unit committee members struggle to be paid their meagre sitting allowances, months after such meetings.
He asked for the plight of the unit committee and assembly members to be critically looked at or reviewed in the face of their role as the foundation upon which special functions were to be performed, and essential services provided for development at the community level in Ghana.
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