Attempts by the National House of Chiefs and the National Democratic Congress to whip up sentiments and direct voters to vote “No” in the upcoming referendum has been challenged by the Ashanti Regional Chairman of the New Patriotic Party.
Mr. Bernard Antwi-Boaisako has opined that a “No” vote would continue to promote the winner takes all political cycle in Ghana and stall developments at the local level for which reason; he explained and encouraged voters to vote “Yes” on December 17, 2019.
Last Thursday, the President of the National House of Chiefs signed and issued a statement to kick against proposals to allow political parties to participate in the district-level elections.
According to the statement, the House of Chiefs is concerned about the adverse effects of partisan politics on local level development if this referendum goes through.
“We strongly object to the proposal that membership of local assemblies should exclusively comprise representatives of political parties, as in the case of Parliament”, a portion of their statement read.
But Mr. Antwi-Boasiako popularly known as Chairman Wontumi explained that inasmuch as he respects the Togbe Afede for freely expressing his view, he would plead with the Local Government minister and all stakeholders to visit the chief and give him a detailed education on the exercise.
“The statement by Togbe Afede should be considered as one from an individual and must be respected but I would call on the Local Government minister to ensure that the referendum education gets to the revered chief. I firmly believe Togbe doesn’t understand the concept of the referendum and the reason it would be better for the masses to vote yes”, Chairman Wontumi told Peacefmonline.com.
The National Democratic Congress has also justified the party’s decision to campaign against the amendment of Article 55 of the 1992 Constitution.
The Minority in Parliament had earlier supported the amendment but suddenly changed its position, arguing that allowing the election of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) on partisan lines would further polarise the country.
The NDC has, therefore, called on Ghanaians to vote ‘No’ in the December 17 referendum.
But Chairman Wontumi replied that history has proven that the NDC are always opposed to good things. He described them as a party full of “people who are always against good policies that would bring about positive change to Ghanaians.”
He continued that “when former President Kufuor wanted to introduce the National Health Insurance scheme, the NDC kicked against it and it was the same for the free Senior High School policy. But there is data to prove that the majority of people who benefit from the good policies are people who belong to the NDC. They (NDC) are even attacking good policies like the Planting for Foods and Jobs and One District One Factory and at the same time enjoying from the program. They are full of gluttons”.
Mr. Antwi-Boasiako noted that the referendum debate should present an opportunity for both the Christian and Muslim council and all stakeholders to educate people on essence of voting Yes.
He explained that “the reason for this referendum is to end the winner takes all cycle that has been going on for yes. If we take a look at countries like the USA and UK where democracy is well-practised, we would see that the winner takes all style of polities doesn’t work there and it is that system we want to emulate.
President Nana Akufo-Addo wants to bring empowerment to every district and to the local people and on top of it, the Chiefs would hold more power.”
A constitutional referendum will be held in Ghana on 17 December 2019, alongside district level elections. The proposed amendments to the constitution would allow for the direct election of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) and allow political parties to be involved in local elections.