General News of Wednesday, 20 November 2019
The confusion that has rocked the National House of Chiefs (NHC) is getting murkier, as the Omanhene of the Asokore Traditional Area in the Ashanti Region, Nana Susubribi Krobea Asante, says he did not recommend a “NO” vote in the upcoming referendum.
According to Nana Susubribi Krobea Asante, who is the Chairman of the Committee of Legal Affairs of the NHC, the memorandum, which dates January 2019, never advised for a “No” vote in the referendum.
The Chairman said he only offered technical and procedural advice to the proposed local government reforms, adding that the Committee’s work was not based even on the referendum.
In response to a press statement from the House, signed by the President, Togbe Afede XIV, and published in yesterday’s edition of The Chronicle, he said the Committee’s memo did not argue for a “Yes” or “No” vote in the referendum.
Nana Susubribi Krobea Asante finds the position of the House on the referendum as unfortunate, especially, as the memo was prepared long before the pronouncements of some political entities on the matter.
However, in the eight-page memo addressed to the NHC, the Committee was rather making a case for the chiefs that 30 per cent membership of assemblies should be ceded to the traditional authorities.
The Chairman stated in the memo that the assembly occupancy should not exclusively comprise representatives of political parties as in Parliament, which has nothing to do with the referendum as purported.
According to him, the current Constitution and other formal structures of governance have marginalised chiefs, not only at the level of the national government, but also at the level of local government.
He said: “Whatever the rationale may be for excluding chiefs from Parliament, there is no justification whatsoever for imposing any constitutional and legal prohibitions, or limitations on the participation of chiefs in all aspects of local government.”
Commenting on how chiefs had been relegated to the background, he recommended in the memo that the House rather strongly object to the notion that membership of local assemblies should exclusively comprise representatives of political parties, as in Parliament.
He said: “The chiefs, as pointed out, are legitimate stakeholders, not only by virtue of their status as development partners, but also as owners of stool lands in trust for their subjects, who contribute 55% of the revenues accruing from stool lands to local assemblies. By every democratic principle, the traditional authorities must have a legitimate say in the use of such resources, and the selection and location of development projects financed by such revenues.”
The memo further added that the marginalisation of chiefs in governance has no rationale beyond enhancing the comfort zone of the political class.
It added that the incidence of exclusiveness, the unhealthy polarisation of all issues, the marginalisation of citizens who do not belong to the ruling party, and the exclusion of skilled manpower on partisan grounds would be detrimental to development and good governance at the local level.