It has come to the notice of the National Commission for Civic Education, (NCCE) that the Ghanaians are confusing the referendum on Article 55 (3) of the 1992 Constitution with the election of Metropolitan Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs). No, this shouldn’t be since the objective of the referendum is not so. Article 55 (3) says that political parties can get involved in Presidential and Parliamentary elections; however, political parties are not to get involved in District Level Elections (DLEs).
A section of the general people argues that since citizens elect who becomes President or a Member of Parliament on political party lines, the electorate should be given the same power to elect their District Assembly and Unit Committee Members on political party lines, through universal adult suffrage. Another school of thought argues that this will not augur well for effective participation at the grassroots level since political parties’ involvement might bring separation among the people and delay development, thus Article 55 (3) should be maintained.
The referendum question, therefore, seeks to confirm from Ghanaians if Article 55(3) be maintained or amended? Since Article 55 (3) is an entrenched provision in the 1992 Constitution, it can only be amended by citizens through a referendum.
Come 17th December 2019, Ghanaians will not only elect their District Assembly and Unit Committee Members in the DLEs, but they will also vote in a referendum to either vote “YES” to permit Article 55(3) to be amended to allow political parties to PARTICIPATE in DLEs or vote “NO” for Article 55(3) NOT to be amended and remain as it is.
On the other hand, Article 243(1) gives the President the power to appoint MMDCEs. While some people argue that this power should be taken away from the President for citizens to vote to decide who is elected as their MMDCEs, another school of thought argues that the President should go on appointing MMDCEs as it’s already done.
Article 243(1) is a non-entrenched provision and therefore Parliament has the mandate to decide whether MMDCEs should be appointed or voted for. This is already before Parliament and Ghanaians await its outcome.
Ghanaians should therefore NOT THINK that the referendum on Article 55(3) is meant for the election of MMDCEs, which is Article 243(1).