Ghana goes to the polls on December 17, to elect District Assembly Members and Unit Committee Members.
The election of these persons plays a pivotal role to the country’s decentralisation process, as candidates who emerge victorious will exercise political and administrative authority in their respective districts.
Mandates of elected members are clearly spelt in the Local Governance Act; however, many are oblivious of the Act, that seeks to empower citizens, to hold local authorities accountable.
This, the experts say, contributes to voter apathy during District Assembly Elections.
GBC’s Rachel Kakraba, engaged the Technical Advisor to Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, Dr. Eric Oduro Osae on the Local Governance Act. who highlighted some of the current Local Governance Act, expected to expire in December, 2019.
This is a law that has been in operation in the past four years, and made up of Sections and Sub-Sections. Dr. Oduro Osae explained what necessitated the development of the current Local Governance Act.
It is worth noting that effectiveness of any District Assembly depends on leadership hence individuals vying for such roles must be business oriented.
Within evey fiscal year an assembly is expected to have undertaken one development project that responds to needs of the people.
The Act also clarifies the role of traditional authorities as partners in development that must promote traditional values and serve as knowledgeable persons on developmental issue.
There is a Public Relations and Complaints Committee, (PRCC), in which CSOs are represented. Members of the Executive Committee are also prescribed.
“But did you know under the Act the president has the power to dissolve an assembly and appoint independent people to manage?” He questioned.
However, independent people cannot manage the assembly beyond a year.
Assemblies have criminal functions under the Act. The Act also spells out duties of assembly members. It also has powers to establish Emergency Services such as Fire Service.
Touching on the District Assembly’s Common Fund, Dr. Oduro Osa, said District Assemblies under the current local governance Act can surcharge employers to refund debt owed by employees.
Under development is a new Local Governance Act, that will run from January 2020 to December 2024, as Dr. Oduro Osae will put it, partners in development must make input to it.
“For me it not all about having good laws which are not known to the public. There is the need for effective public education and sentization that to a large a extent empower the people to hold duty bearers accountable. Since decentralization is to bring governance close to the citizens it is key that education is intensified on the law to propel local level development.”