The state of Ghana’s local government system: the case of Assembly Members
International development organisations have, for a long time, presented Ghana as having a highly functional intergovernment system or decentralisation. While this projection is far from the country’s grounded reality, Ghana continues to benefit from the ‘misrepresentation’ as one of the preferred destinations in the sub-Saharan region for foreign aid and development assistance. This paper discusses some of the weaknesses inherent in Ghana’s local government system. Specifically, it unravels the issues affecting the operations of Assembly Members, who are key facilitators of developments at the local level. The paper is based on the ethnographic study of the World Bank-funded Community-Based Rural Development Projects (CBRDP) implemented in Ghana between 2005-2011. The analysis of the empirical data collected in 2010/2011 from nine localities in the Eastern, Greater Accra and Volta Regions indicates that Assembly Members are faced with many challenges, some of which would require national civic education and constitutional amendments to address. The paper seeks to show the complex factors that impact on decentralisation and local government systems.
Keywords: Assembly Members, local government, decentralisation, Ghana, community-driven development, CDD, traditional chiefs, partisan politics.