Ghanaians continue to agitate against metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAS), due to lack of information, transparency, and their inability to participate in activities of the assemblies.
Though more than 70 per cent of the citizens are aware of the responsibilities and functions of MMDAS, they are of the view that the various assemblies are not very responsive to their demands for services and do not create the opportunity for citizens to participate in the decision-making process.
Mr Edward Ampratwum, a researcher at the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), made these observations at a day’s capacity-building workshop on social accountability for media personnel from the Central and Western regions, in Cape Coast on Monday.
The workshop, which was held on the theme: ‘Promoting Social Accountability Through Citizens’ Participation in Local Governance,’ was the first in a series to be organised by the CDD-Ghana in collaboration with the European Union.
It was, among others, to educate the media on local government, decentralsation and social accountability in Ghana.
Mr Ampratwum noted that the contact between citizens and the assemblies, their Members of Parliament (MPs) and assembly members was low.
He said that more than 70 per cent of the citizens hardly contact their MPs, assembly members or unit committees to find out what happens at the assembly or Parliament.
Mr Ampratwum also said for decentralisation of governance to work effectively, there should be accountability based on transparent information, to enable communities to effectively monitor the performance of local government authorities.
He added that for local government to be responsive, capable and accountable, it had to be decentralised to provide opportunities for citizens to better exercise their influence over local government officials.
Dr Patrick Osei-Kuffuor, a lecturer at the Institute of Development Studies of the University of Cape Coast, educated the participants on social accountability.
He asked the media to consider themselves as a conduit for the voices of the masses to be heard, by disseminating the relevant information and conveying feedback to the appropriate agencies for action.
Dr Osei-Kuffuor also said effective social accountability would help enhance good governance, reduce poverty, promote transparency, ensure effective development and strengthen public sector reforms and decentralisation. He asked the media to initiate innovative ways of getting information from officials, and not to resort to speculations because social accountability involved building information-based on evidence.
According to him, citizens need relevant information to monitor the performance of service providers, including the quality of services provided. He appealed to MMDAS to set service delivery targets and monitor the attainment of those objectives.
Dr Osei-Kuffuor asked the media to use participatory budgeting, participatory planning, public expenditure tracking surveys, social audits and citizens’ report cards in assessing information from the district assemblies.
Similar workshops would be organised for political activists, civil society organisations, traditional rulers, women and people with disabilities in the two regions, within the week.
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