President of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Most Reverend Philip Naameh, has expressed worry about the low publicity and education of the public on the upcoming December 17 referendum.
As Ghana prepares for a constitutional referendum aimed at amending Article 55 (3) of the 1992 constitution, the prelate is concerned that not much is being done to publicise the event and create awareness about what he describes as an “important national exercise.”
Speaking at the launch of the Regional/Diocesan sensitisation programme on the upcoming referendum in Tamale on Tuesday, the Archbishop said, “Even though this referendum is expected to take place in December 2019, little is heard of it in public discourse. It is worrying that such an important national exercise was not receiving the level of participation it needed for discussions among Ghanaians.”
He further explained that “There are not the usual commentaries and debates that go with elections and politics as we have experienced in recent times, despite the fact that our very development infrastructure is based on effective mobilisation of local resources and participation of local people in governance.”
The Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference (GCBC), in collaboration with the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) – a German think tank, – has been working to raise awareness and understanding of the issues at stake in the December referendum.
In October 2019, the Catholic Church in Ghana officially launched the regional and diocesan sensitisation programme under the theme, “Participation of political parties and citizens in the District Level Elections.”
The referendum is to enable citizens to vote on the proposed amendment of Article 55 (3) of the 1992 Constitution that bars political parties from participating in District Level Elections.
Article 55 (3) which is an entrenched position 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 elections to any public office other than to District Assemblies or lower local government units”.
The provision can only be amended through a referendum which per Article 290(4) of the 1992 constitution, can be approved when at least 40% of persons entitled to vote, vote at the referendum and at least 75% of the persons who vote cast their votes in favour of passing the bill.
If carried, the proposed amendment will introduce multi-party participation in the local government system in Ghana.