Asiedu Nketia explains why it is dangerous for chiefs to do politics

General Secretary of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Johnson Asiedu Nketia has stated that chiefs should not be allowed to engage in partisan politics.

He stated that chiefs are supposed to serve as arbiters in situations where politicians are engaged in conflict or when they veer off the road.

If the chiefs are permitted to engage in politics, he said, they won’t be able to play the role of settling disputes.

Speaking at a forum held for the presidential candidate of the NDC in the 2020 elections, John Dramani Mahama as part of his thank you tour in the Eastern Region on Tuesday October 12, he said “That is why when we are in government we make sure that we do not interfere in chieftaincy matters at all.

“We also removed the clauses that allow chiefs to participate in our type of politics, partisan politics. It is through the partisan politics that government leaders are elected. So, if we allow the chiefs to participate some of the chiefs may find themselves on the right side of the government in power, others may find themselves on the wrong side of the government in power.

“So, if you have a president who is convinced that some chiefs voted against him and he has all the powers of Commander-in-Chief and all that, you know that there is certainly a big trouble for those chiefs who voted against him.

“So, we said that this thing should not happen. The chiefs should be neutral and in their neutrality they can see all of us as their subjects because there is no politician who does not serve one paramount chief or the other. 

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“So in the practice of our politics , if we are seen by the chiefs  to be crossing  the boundaries then the chiefs will have the  courage to call us to order.

“But if we  allow the chiefs to participate  in partisan politics  and we find some of them to be against us and others for us, when there is any conflict and the same  chiefs who have supported our opponents now turn round to be judges, to be calling us  and to be arbitrating on matters  that relate to our politics it will be difficult  for them to gather that courage to approach that assignment  and we cannot also accept such arbitration and that is why  we sought to insulate the chieftaincy institution  from partisan politics.”

It is recalled that last year, a Constitutional lawyer Martin Kpebu rejected suggestions from some quarters that the laws of the land should be changed to allow chiefs and traditional leaders engage in active partisan politics in Ghana.

Mr Kpebu said if that is done, it will be horrible for the country.

He explained in an interview with TV3 Sunday, October 11 that the country was faced with several problems when in the past chiefs were allowed to engage in partisan.

Chiefs and traditional leaders, he noted, are supposed to be unifiers therefore meddling in political affairs will create deeper problems for the country.

Chiefs and queens have over the years been endorsing political parties and their candidates for elections.

This development has attracted flak from political scientists and election observers who indicate that the traditional leaders by doing so are violating the laws of the land.

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Campaign manager for the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) Peter Mac Manu has said it is about time the country considered amendment of the law which bars chiefs and traditional leaders from actively engaging in partisan politics.

According to him, times have changed and traditional rulers like other Ghanaians have the right to engage in politics.

Mr Mac Manu said these while speaking in an interview with TV3’s Komla Adom after joining his party’s flagbearer, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, in filing his nominations on Tuesday, October 6 ahead of the 2020 polls.

He said: “The chiefs have been doing this since 1992. If anything at all the nation, the citizenry must find a way of meeting the National House of Chiefs to have a discussion on it. Democracy and democratic practices like elections is a journey.

“Along the journey, there might be some curves which may need to be sharpened. So for now if there is anything wrong we have to sharpen it.

“It is a long journey so there might be the need for some changes along the way. So coming from 1992 if the chiefs’ role has changed [and] there be the need to fine tune it, why not? We can do it by an amendment of the law or the constitution as the case may be.”

Sharing his perspectives on this development, Mr Kpebu said: “Our past has shown that in times when they were involved in partisan politics it was horribly bad.

“They become divisive candidates rather than being unifiers in their communities. It actually behoves on the chiefs to restrain themselves.”

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By Laud Nartey||Ghana