Church in Ghana Pledges Support for Civic Education Ahead of Constitutional Referendum

Facilitators at the regional and diocesan sensitization programme on the constitutional referendum in Ghana on October 4, 2019
Credit: Damian Avevor

As the countdown to Ghana’s referendum draws to a close, the Catholic Bishops in the West African country are prioritizing civic education, which they consider significant in having the citizens make an informed decision at the ballot.

“Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference will offer its support … in the efforts aimed at raising awareness and understanding of the issues at stake before, during and after the referendum,” reads in part a statement by the Archbishop of Accra, John Bonaventure Kwofie.

“The citizenry and parliament can (therefore) make informed choices and decisions,” continues the Archbishop’s statement, read on his behalf by his Vicar General, Fr. Dr. John Louis last Friday, October 4 while addressing the participants during the launch of the regional and diocesan sensitization programme on the December national referendum in Ghana.

Ghanaians are expected to take part in a constitutional referendum to amend Article 55 (3) of their 1992 constitution slated to take place on December 17.

The proposed amendment would permit direct election of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) as well as allow political parties to engage in local elections.

On the referendum day, members of the district assemblies and unit committees will be elected.

Archbishop Kwofie promised support by availing Church resources for civic education ahead of the referendum saying, “Our network of parishes and out-stations across the country will continue to provide platforms and opportunities for awareness creation and discussion on the merits and demerits of the proposals.”

“In the months of October and November, the Catholic Church (will work) in collaboration with the national commission for civic education, electoral commission, the Christian council of Ghana, the Ghana Pentecostal and Charismatic council, the Muslim community, civil society organizations and traditional authorities,” Archbishop Kwofie announced in his statement to the participants in the unveiling of the sensitization initiative.

The interreligious collaboration for civic education, Archbishop Kwofie noted, “will intensify the sensitization of the people on the referendum in all cities, towns and villages in Ghana since the government and its institutions alone cannot do it.”

Organized by the directorate of good governance of Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference (GCBC) with funding from the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, the sensitization initiative has the purpose of enlightening people about the December 17 constitutional referendum.

The participants at the sensitization launch were drawn from all the 20 dioceses in Ghana and were expected to return to their respective dioceses to sensitize the faithful.

Speaking about his impressions as a participant towards the October 4 event, Mr. Richard Forghor from the Damongo diocese told ACI Africa correspondent, “I consider today's diocesan launch as part of our efforts to keep the momentum in the campaign towards getting people to come out in their large numbers to vote in the upcoming referendum and to participate in the district level elections.”

“Many people are unaware of the upcoming referendum which is (in) less than three months away hence a lot of education is needed,” Mr. Forghor said.

“We shall do our best to get the message across using our Church structures with the support of our parish coordinators,” Mr. Forghor added.

ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.

Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa
[email protected]