Mr. Paul Nana Kwabena Aborampah Mensah, the Programmes Manager at CDD-Ghana, has voiced concerns about the excessive focus on the 2024 general election by Ghanaians, neglecting the impending District Level Elections (DLE) scheduled for this year.
Addressing a national dialogue in Kumasi centered around the 2023 District Level Election, Mr. Aborampah emphasized that the lack of enthusiasm for the DLE among citizens posed a significant problem that needed attention.
He stressed that addressing this apathy was crucial to fortifying the foundation of Ghana's development through its governance structure.
The dialogue, organized collaboratively by the Local Governance Network (LOGNet), Public Financial Management Network (PFM-Network), and the Chamber of Local Governance (CHaloG), with support from the German Development Cooperation (GIZ), aimed to educate and raise awareness among citizens and various stakeholders regarding the upcoming 2023 DLE.
Participants from several regions attended the event under the theme “Strategies to Improve Participation towards the District Level Elections in Ghana.”
Mr. Benjamin Bannor Bio, the Regional Director of the Electoral Commission, provided insights into the processes and strategies pertaining to the 2023 DLE.
Mr. Aborampah lamented the insufficient engagement of key stakeholders such as the executive, parliament, media, civil society organizations, and traditional leaders in the forthcoming local elections, despite their significance to national progress.
He specifically urged traditional leaders to take a keen interest in the DLE due to their role as guardians of lands on which development initiatives are implemented.
Highlighting the historical involvement of chiefs in the local governance process, he underscored their responsibility to combat apathy towards local elections. He implored them to recognize the value of local governance in driving development at the grassroots level.
Mr. Simon Manu, the Regional Coordinator of GIZ, emphasized the importance of local assemblies in Germany's governance system. He reiterated Germany's commitment to bolstering local structures as the core of development and noted that Ghana's progress heavily relied on its local governance system.
Drawing attention to the prevailing tendency of blaming the President for local development shortcomings, Mr. Manu deemed it unacceptable. He emphasized that local assemblies were established precisely to address such issues, stressing the need for collective efforts to empower decentralization.
Mr. Christopher Dapaah, National Coordinator of LOGNet, highlighted the decline in turnout for DLEs over the years. He cited statistics showing a drop from 59.3% in 1988/89 to 33.6% in 2019, compared to an average turnout of 78.8% in Parliamentary and Presidential elections since 1992.
This disparity, he argued, indicated a substantial gap in participation between district-level and national elections, even though Ghana was considered a robust democracy.