The Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) has urged Ghanaians to come out in their numbers on December 17 and vote massively in referendum in favour of the election of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs).
“We will celebrate December 17, with pride as citizens, if we are able to meet the constitutional requirement of 40 per cent registered votes participating in the referendum and a ‘Yes vote to meet the threshold of 75 per cent,” Mr Roland Affail Monney, the GJA President said on Wednesday in Accra at a Public Conversation on “Reforms, Costs and Participation: MMDCEs Election and the December 17 National Referendum”.
The two-day forum is being organised by the Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG) and the Civic Forum Initiative (CFI) in collaboration with the GJA with support from the STAR Ghana Foundation and the Embassy of Denmark.
The Conversation aims at clarifying the misconception surrounding the December 17 Referendum, disseminating information about the essence of the national referendum, the importance of a 40 per cent voter turnout and a 75 per cent “Yes” vote and how it can be achieved.
It also seeks to educate the public about the post-referendum reform processes, costs and benefits of the reforms and opportunities for citizens to participate in those processes and influence their results.
Mr Monney said: “We have the opportunity to either deny ourselves as a nation or seize the moment to reform the challenges that confront the system of governance we have practised for three decades. At best the proposed multiparty local governance will contribute to reshape the path of local economic and transformation.”
He said they understood the sentiment of some groupings and individuals, who might appear panic stricken by Article 55(3) of the 1992 Constitution.
He said the GJA had christened the national campaign of getting the citizenry to vote “Yes” in the referendum on the referendum on the election of MMDCEs as “Agenda 40-75” under their media project “Enhanced Media-CSO Partnerships for Inclusive Local Governance” with the support from STAR-Ghana.
He said GJA, for that matter journalists in Ghana, had a democratic duty in shaping public discourse, both at the national and sub-national levels on the article 55(3). “I urge all media houses to consciously marry their commercial and social Interest, to help us hold onto the fire we have lighted today by carrying out more structured discussions, and public education on the need for a ‘Yes Vote” at the referendum on December 17.”
Dr Emmanuel Akwetey, the Executive Director of IDEG said Ghana’s democracy was more stable but it was facing serious challenges about its ability to bring about the development the people needed.
Madam Josephine Nkrumah, Chairperson of the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) said the amendment of article 55(3) might be the key to achieve true democratisation; declaring that the consensus of all political parties was an absolute requisite for the success of the referendum.