Assessing the role of sub-district structures in decentralized local governance: a case study of Ejisu-Juaben Municipal and Sekyere East District Assemblies

Thumbnail Image
October, 2014
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
The institutional superstructure of the post-1988 Ghana‘s Decentralised Local Government system was built on the Sub-Metropolitan, Urban, Town, Zonal, Area Councils and Unit Committees. In order to operate effectively as the link between the Metropolitan, Municipal, District Assemblies (MMDAs) and the people, the Local Government Act (Act 462) and other relevant legislations made a case for these Sub-District Structures (SDSs) to be well- resourced in terms of finance, manpower and logistics. These resources would facilitate their operations towards the achievement of the goals of promoting active participation of the citizenry, good governance and improved local economic development. Over the period, participatory democracy and good governance have been deepened through the holding of the District Assembly and Unit Committees elections. Further, the increase of the number of MMDAs to 216, Sub-Metropolitan District Councils to 33, Urban, Zonal Town and Area Councils to 1,306 and 5,000 Unit Committees have enhanced participatory democracy. Again, sustainable sources of funding from District Assembly Common Fund (DACF) and the District Development Facility (DDF) to the MMDAs for development activities have improved. The DACF transfers to MMDAs increased from GH¢2, 600,002 in 1994 to GH¢ 340, 000,040 in 2010 whiles a total of GH¢ 135,564,800 DDF grant was transferred to qualified MMDAs in 2010. These successes notwithstanding, a number of challenges have made the Sub-Districts a weaker link between the MMDAs and the communities. The challenges are the SDSs inability to generate adequate internal funds, the failure of the MMDAs to transfer financial resources to the SDSs, the weak manpower base, poor staff motivation and inadequate infrastructure and logistics. On the basis of the present state of the SDSs as captured above, the study assessed the contributions of Ejisu-Juaben Municipal Assembly (EJMA) and the Sekyere East District Assembly (SEDA) Sub-Districts to local governance in terms of their structures and roles, institutional and functional linkages with the assemblies and the communities, logistical and staffing capacities, and their collaboration with the Private Sector, iv Traditional Authorities, and the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs). Finally, policy recommendations were made to improve their performances. Purposive and Simple Random sampling were employed to obtain the required sample and out of that, the relevant data was gathered from both primary and secondary sources using Case study, Focus Group Discussions, Observations, Interviews, and Questionnaire administration. The data was analysed and presented using a good mix of tables and graphs. The following findings were made. First, by- elections are not held to replace vacant assembly and SDSs positions. Second, Internally Generated Fund though inadequate, is the only source of funding to the Sub-Districts because the EJMA and the SEDA failed to transfer the Sub-Districts‘ two percent share of the DACF. Third, only 50 percent of the required staff of the EJMA Town Councils and 25 percent for the Area Councils were at post. In the SEDA, only 12.5 percent of the Town Council and 8.3 percent of the Area Councils staff were at post. Fourth, the monthly remuneration of the Sub-District‘s staff was poor and ranged between GH¢35 and GH¢50. Fifth, only five out of the nine Town /Area councils in the EJMA and one out of the five in the SEDA, have permanent office accommodation. Sixth, there is poor downward accountability by the SDSs in terms of annual accounts presentation, keeping of minutes of meetings and value books. Finally, for SDSs to be effective in order to enhance decentralised local governance, the study recommends that, the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development should sponsor a bill to review existing legislations on local government elections to capture District Assembly and Unit Committee by-elections, the operational Sub-Districts should be made a performance measure under the DDF and as a DACF indicator, the members of SDSs should be paid a monthly stipend of at least GH¢ 100 by the MMDAs, the MMDAs should regularly build the capacities of the SDSs staff through training and the CSOs operating within the local governance sphere should form a coalition to advocate for the operationalisation of Sub-Districts in particular and local governance in general.
A Thesis submitted to the School of Graduate Studies Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Development Policy and Planning.