|NO NEED TO BAR CHIEFS FROM POLITICS|
Story: Sebastin syme
The Co-ordinator of the Third World Network-Africa, dr Yao Graham, has challenged an aspect of the constitution that debars chiefs from participating in partisan politics, saying it is a denial of their rights.
According to him, it was unfortunate that the constitution excluded persons from participating in partisan politics by virtue of who they were whiles others were insulated from that provision.
“There was no need for the framers of the Constitution to ban chiefs from engaging in politics,” he told the Daily Graphic after he had addressed participants at a forum organized by the Socialist Forum of Ghana (SFG) in Accra.
The forum was on the theme “Chieftaincy: The Landed Elite and Democracy”.
He stated that during the anti-colonial struggle at the time of the then Gold Coast chiefs and politicians collaborated to work together and this culminated in the 1960 referendum when Ghanaians chose the path of a sovereign Republic.
According to Dr Graham, the Republic was being weakened particularly at the district assembly level since chiefs were rendered ineffective in their contributions towards governance and for that matter political issue, owing to the constitutional constraint.
Explaining further, he said although it had become the norm for successive presidents to make a chief’s residence the first port of call in a community, the traditional authorities had very little contribution to make in terms of the governance structure.
Addressing the participants earlier, Dr Graham said although the chieftaincy institution was widespread in Ghana it was not national in nature because not every ethnic group had a chief and in most places where there were chiefs, they had limited powers.
Contributing to the discussion, the Managing Editor of The Insight newspaper, Mr. Kwesi Pratt Jnr, expressed concern about the manner in which the state over the years had taken lands that legitimately belonged to people for projects that yielded very little or no benefit to the owners.
He said although there was not possible to return to their proper owners what governments could do was to use the land for productive ventures that would help to improve the economic conditions of the people.
The General Secretary of the National Reform Party (NRP), Mr. Kyeretwie Opoku, who is also the convener of the SFG, chaired the function.
Daily Graphic page 47 Thursday, May 29, 2008