The Minister for Regional Reorganisation and Development, Dan Kwaku Botwe, has called for the cancellation of the December 17 referendum, which is to decide whether political parties, should sponsor candidates in district-level elections.
Dan Botwe, Minister for Reorganisation and Development
“Why should we spend money on the referendum, when there are rains and roads and we cannot make roads. Why should we waste so much money on that? It is not a national (priority). They should leave it since we are reducing cost. Nothing will change if we postpone it,” the former NPP General Secretary told Starr News Ibrahim Alhassan yesterday.
His call, comes after a similar one by Minister of State at the Office of the President Dr. Kweku Afriyie, who threw his weight behind calls for the upcoming referendum to be postponed.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Chamber of Bulk Oil Distributors (CBOD) Senyo Hosi and Kweku Azar, a lawyer and Professor of Accounting, have also separately spoken against the referendum.
The Regional Reorganisation and Development Minister, in another interview on Adom FM’s Burning Issue, also proposed a total withdrawal of the December 17 referendum over what he said are attacks on President Akufo-Addo’s person.
The respected, Dan Kwaku Botwe, is convinced some persons are unjustifiably hurling invectives at the President over government-backed ‘YES’ campaign for an upcoming referendum.
The December 17 referendum, seeks to amend the law to enable Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) and unit committee members to be elected along political party lines.
There have been calls by groups and individuals, including the National House of Chiefs and opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), who are canvassing for a “NO” vote on the upcoming referendum to maintain Article 55(3) of the 1992 election.
Article 55 (3) of the 1992 Constitution, which is an entrenched provision, states that “Subject to the provisions of this Article, a political party is free to participate in shaping the political will of the people, to disseminate information on political ideas, social and economic programmes of a national character; and sponsor candidates for election to any public office other than the district assemblies or lower local government units”.
Dan Kwaku Botwe, said if people would disrespect the President for his intention to deepen Ghana’s democracy by relinquishing his power to appoint MMDCEs to voters, then he would advise the President to cancel the whole referendum.
In his view, calls for the referendum to be postponed to enable more stakeholder consultation are not good enough but a total withdrawal of the referendum is better.
His comments come on the back of a call by Assin Central Member of Parliament, Kennedy Agyapong, that the referendum should be postponed to enable better voter education on issues.
Mr Botwe, said cancelling the entire referendum to maintain the status quo would rather help if the good intentions of the President would stir up controversy.
The Okere Legislator further argued that the problems of multi-party democracy should not be presented as a justification to stifle democracy.
The comments come in the wake of growing division over the referendum and what either outcomes will hold for the development of the country.
Members of the National House of Chiefs, are also divided over their position on the exercise. While the President of the House of Chiefs says they support a ‘no vote’, some key members of the body have openly broken ranks with their leader.
Meanwhile, the main opposition NDC is canvassing for a ‘no vote’ while the President and his ruling party have declared support for the opposite.
The NDC contends introducing political parties into local level elections will further deepen the partisan politics in communities.
Speaking to Joy News, Dr. Afriyie, a former Western Regional Minister, believes there’s some wisdom in the campaign for the postponement hence his support.
“If I had my way I will say defer or abolish this referendum; let’s stop it because we are not building a national consensus behind this project like we did with the regional ones in spite of people’s reservations.”
“…So me I can understand those who are clamouring for postponement, I would have wished that we would have dared them and vote if the narrative was different and say we can show to Ghana that at least seventy-something percent of Ghanaians are in favour. I’m grappling with the idea that show the people that it is the majority view versus the fact that people might turn it and do mischief with it that we’ve lost whether it is 26% or not. From what they’ve done, NDC I cannot trust them to attempt to do that and Ghanaians might not understand the issue that is why I’m leaning towards the idea that we should postpone the referendum,” Dr. Afriyie told Joy News.
SenyoHosi, also publicly declared his opposition to a “yes” vote in the upcoming referendum on whether or not party politics should be introduced at the local government level.
According to him, the unbridled partisanship has left Ghana in a situation where commonsense is defined by party colours. For this reason, he says, he shall vote “No”.
“In a country where commonsense is defined by party colours, I’ll vote no to partisan district elections. #IvoteNo,” he declared on Facebook.
The debate has been heated on social media with many prominent people equally divided on the matter with Prof Stephen Kwaku Asare popularly known as ‘Kwaku Azar kicking against the YES vote.
Prof Azar wrote:
In most constituencies, the general election is meaningless because a party will win if it sponsors a sansankroma. As a result, primary candidates need to raise, on average, GHc389,803 just to secure the party parliamentary nomination, which is largely determined by how well a candidate treats delegates. Some parties tax elected MPs who increasingly feel that the parties must shield them from competition because of such taxes. Parties also rely on a few profit-seeking financiers, further creating side obligations and making them less accountable to the people.
Even someone like me who is an ardent supporter of party politics has become disillusioned by the way we practice it. Sadly, I have concluded that party politics, as practiced in our polity, undermines democracy and assures corruption. What we badly need then is to reform party politics at the national level not export it and all its glaring problems to local elections.”