The ‘silent pistol’ in Ghana’s local government system: presiding members vs. chief executives

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Issah Justice Musah-Surugu
Emmanuel Yeboah-Assiamah


Decentralisation and local governance aim at local economic development, but collaboration among key actors at the local level is essential in realising this objective. However, at district assembly level Ghana exhibits problematic conflicts between district chief executives (DCEs), who head the executive committee, and presiding members (PMs) who convene and preside over assembly deliberations, acting as speaker. This study aims to unpack the main causes of such unsavoury conflicts by using 13 case studies from the Ashanti Region. Both primary and secondary data were collected for the study. Primary data was gathered from a selection of 40 key informants drawn from three main groups including DCEs, PMs, and other stakeholders such as regional coordinating council members, assembly members and chiefs. The main research instrument was one-on-one in-depth interviews with participants. The study found deep-seated conflicts between DCEs and PMs, in some cases even transcending these two actors to involve a greater section of actors within the local government administration. The study noted that professional bureaucrats within the local government service are affected when allegations of affiliation are levelled against them. The study also found that the legal status of DCEs and PMs appears to be the main driver of potential conflict, although other context-specific issues were also prevalent.

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How to Cite
Musah-Surugu, I. J., & Yeboah-Assiamah, E. (2016). The ‘silent pistol’ in Ghana’s local government system: presiding members vs. chief executives. Commonwealth Journal of Local Governance, (18), 161-180.
Research and Evaluation (peer-reviewed)
Author Biographies

Issah Justice Musah-Surugu, University of Ghana Business School, Ghana

Public Administration & Policy Management
Department of Public Administration & Health Services Management
University of Ghana Business School, Ghana

Emmanuel Yeboah-Assiamah, Stellenbosch University, South Africa

Public Management & Development Planning
School of Public Leadership
Stellenbosch University, South Africa