The Executive Director of the Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG), Dr Emmanuel Akwetey, has called on Civil Society Organisations(CSOs) to help develop structures and road map to prevent further delays in implementing local government reforms.
The road map, he noted, should also take into consideration the need to quickly build national consensus required for implementation of the reforms before the 2024 general election.
Speaking at a multi-stakeholder conference in Accra yesterday, Dr Akwetey said leaving the reforms entirely in the hands of political parties either in government or in opposition, posed a risk to the country’s local government system and democracy.
He,therefore, urged CSOs to drive the reform processes before the 2024 elections, stressing that “if we want to see accountable government, inclusive development, strong institutions and development in a secured environment, then we must do that”.
Elections, economic crisis
Dr Akwetey said it was important to “insulate a national process or agenda from the pool or irresistible force that our political parties in government feel towards elections”.
He,therefore, pointed out the need to consider the reforms as “a national project irrespective of which government wins or loses the 2024 general election”.
He observed that two key issues, economic challenges and the commitment or prioritising of elections over the reforms were arguably delaying the implementation of the reforms.
The executive director was equally convinced that both the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) have different perspectives about the reforms, saying that while the NPP was opened to the involvement of political parties in local government reforms, the NDC on the other hand focussed more on central government reforms.
“What struck me more is that there is a risk that we might not get through with the reforms this year too,” Dr Akwetey noted.
A Senior Research Fellow of the IDEG, Kwesi Jonah, for his part said reforms under a multi-party local government system should include introducing what he described as a “mixed member proportional representation” to ensure 30 per cent women participation in local governance.
The Director of Advocacy and Policy Engagement of CDD-Ghana, Dr Kojo Asante, said CDD-Ghana and other CSOs have been advocating local government reforms in the early 2000s and expressed the hope that the multi-stakeholder conference would help develop a roadmap for the implementation of the reforms, as well as sustain a CSO coalition to champion local government reforms.
A Deputy Minister of Local Government, Decentralisation and Rural Development, Osei Bonsu Amoah, said the government was deepening local level democracy and participation through the active involvement of citizens and other stakeholders.
The conference, aimed at building consensus among CSOs and local government experts on the content and priority of local government reforms, was jointly organised by the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) and the Coalition of Civil Society Organisations for Local Government Reforms and funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).