… For asking MMDCEs to take over functions of assembly members
By: Linda Akrasi Kotey
The Member of Parliament (MP) for Kumawu, Yaw Baah, has told Parliament that the Minister for Local Government, Mr. Joseph Yieleh Chireh, does not have the mandate to ask mMetropolitan, municipal and district chief executives to take over the work of the assembly members after their tenure had expired.
He argued that neither the President nor the Minister was clothed with inherent powers under the constitution to act the way the Minister had done.
“I am raising this concern, because it is a dangerous precedence which should not be followed,” he added. He was contributing to the motion on the creation of new district assemblies and the designation of unit committees.
The Chairman of the Committee on Subsidiary Legislation, Kwame Osei Prempeh, in its report to the house, stated that the proposed expansion of the existing electoral areas would go a long way to further deepen decentralisation in the country.
He observed that this would make the sub-district structures work effectively, leading to the enhancement of local level democracy.
He also noted that the coming into force of the instrument would eliminate some of the challenges encountered during the implementation of the existing electoral areas for district level elections.
Some of the challenges include long distances to voting centres, separation of ethnically bonded communities, and separation of physical barriers, which have all been taken into account in the proposed electoral areas in the instrument.
The local government (Creation of New Electoral Areas and Designation of Units) Instrument, 2010 (L.I.1983) seeks to create new electoral areas for the conduct of district level elections in the country.
It also seeks to break up existing large electoral areas, and merge contiguous small areas. As a result of this exercise, the current number of areas would go up from 4,829 to 6,135.
It would be recalled that the Local Government Ministry, in conjunction with the Electoral Commission, in 2002 held stakeholders fora across the country to collate views on the public perception on sub-district structures.
It was evident at the fora that there was the urgent need to take a fresh look at the electoral areas and units. The decisions arrived at the fora had culminated in the re-demarcation and alignment of electoral areas.
The Electoral Commission (EC) said it could not set a definite date for this year’s District Assembly and Unit Committee elections, because of legal matters over the election.
The Commission explained that the passage of the supplementary Legislative Instrument (LI) that sought to re-demarcate the electoral areas and unit committees’ boundaries in the light of practical implementation of LI 1967, was awaiting parliamentary approval, and as such, it could not organise the elections now.
In a colloquium in Accra, jointly organised by the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) and the Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO), the Commission said its earlier scheduling of October 26 for the exercise, could not be met.
Mr. David Adendze Kanga, Deputy Commissioner of the EC in charge of Finance and Administration, told the colloquium that the Commission had finished with all the necessary preparation, in terms of logistics, and would announce a date as soon as Parliament passed LI 1967.
The LI 1967 seeks to reduce the unit committee members from 15 per unit to five, and aims to increase the number of electoral areas from the current 5,000, while the process of the nomination of unit committee members would be abolished.
Mr. Kanga said it was mandatory for the EC to conduct the elections every four years, and expressed the hope that when Parliament passed the LI in November, the Commission would be in a position to announce a definite date for the exercise to come on before the end of the year.
“Our duty and mandate is to conduct elections in the country. We cannot go ahead and fix a date for the elections, because we have to be certain whether we are going to deal with the new demarcation or the old electoral areas.”
Mr. Kanga said in spite of the enormous administrative challenges ahead, the Commission was ready with the necessary resources and structures to embark on the nationwide exercise, including public education and the running of the polls.
The delay in conducting this year’s elections is a challenge to district assemblies, because the tenure of assembly members ended on September 30, and by law, they cannot perform any functions in the assemblies until they are re-elected.