Monday, 18 March 2013

The Mayor - the role democratisation forgot

I'm slightly avoiding essay writing because it's not really flowing right now. I thought the best way would be just to jump-start my brain with a little post here.

A couple of days ago I read about a supposed 'coup' at the Accra Metropolitan Assembly. Essentially some people are not happy with the Mayor and instead of addressing their concerns, the Mayor's supporters thought it best to try to oust political opponents. Interestingly, the 'crime' was to alert the President - effectively the Mayor's boss - to the poor performance of his employee. No one thought to tell the people of Accra what their grievances were. And yet despite this discreet protest to the Mayor's conduct, officials close to the Mayor thought it best to take such rash decisions which would only end in public humiliation for the AMA and all those involved.

Something the public should have known about, but didn't know about, quickly became something they did know about because some people felt no one should know in the first place. Sounds confusing? Well that's Ghanaian politics for you!

I have one solution. It's a beautiful one. Innovative if I do say so myself! I guarantee you no one could have thought about it, especially not in the democratisation process of the nation. OK, brace yourself... here goes.... DEMOCRATISE THE AMA AND THE MAYORAL POSITION! wow! I just invented the lightbulb! Eureka! I have absolutely blown your mind, haven't I?

No? Well of course I haven't! We often get caught up in the free and fair elections for President and the subsequent hokey-pokeys at the Supreme Court to even consider how we could improve the public sector further. There is always work to be done and democracy in Ghana should not be judge simply by community get-togethers every Dec 7 or Dec 28 in an Olympic year. I'm serious about few things, but for this I've got my serious hat well and truly glued to my head. Non-partisan elections of Mayors based on experience, with appeals to civil society and not tribal or party support, is what Accra, Kumasi and all other serious cities in Ghana need. Why? Because with that will come real protocol for accountability to the people: grounds to vote for no confidence in the Mayor; REAL grounds to vote for no confidence in the Chair of the Assembly; development in the city independent of the political aspirations of the President and his cabinet; faster development in the city with clear resources at one's disposal; and hopefully a shorter #MyOgaAtTheTop ride when disaster strikes. It frees the national government to focus on the rural communities and smaller towns.

The candidates would have to be non-partisan because there's only so long I can take E Dey Be Keke before I'd want board the first Virgin flight outta there. The elections preferably would not be on Dec 7 in an Olympic year. I'm thinking sometime after Republic Day - no reason specifically, it would just be nice. The Mayor's term could then in theory overlap two very different governments and that would push him to fight for the interests of the city because its development would not be so closely associated with that of the national government, he would be accountable for the failure to improve the city and would not think his job is secure so long as he can call the President "Chale!" as is now the case.

There are so many other reasons for switching up the Mayor selection process from the farce that it is now. At the moment Accra's Mayor is living a #MyOgaAtTheTop life, but it is hightime his oga at the top becomes all the people at the bottom. Can we force this change?

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