Constitution

………….. and repeal Act 462(1993)

John Adams the United States President has it that; ?Politics is the science of human happiness the felicity of the society depends upon the constitution under which they live?
Constitution?Article 242(d) other members not being more than thirty percent of all the members of the District Assembly, appointed by the President in consultation with the traditional authorities and other interest groups in the district.?
?Article 243.(1) There shall be a District chief Executive for every district who shall be appointed by the President with the prior approval of not less than two thirds majority of members of the Assembly present and voting at the meeting.?
Safe Democracy Ghana cautions that Ghana is a perpetual succession platform of the living ones of this land for now and beyond and that decisions were made by our predecessors through the toil of their hard work, sweat and blood, that got the land preserved for us today as we enjoy it now; and that therefore, we the adult suffrage of today, in making decisions, must take into considerations the Preamble to the Constitution 1992 and Article 35.2 of the constitution in protecting and preserving the fundamental human rights and freedoms, unity and stability of our Nation Ghana and guide against frivolous and copious use of authority against opportunities and benefits due for posterity.
Article 35(2) ?The State shall protect and safeguard the independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ghana, and shall seek the well being of all her citizens.?
Article 241(3) provides that ?(3) Subjects to this Constitution, a District Assembly shall be the highest political authority in the district, and shall have deliberative, legislative and executive powers.? And membership to the Assembly under Article 242 excludes traditional authorities.
Though recognised by the constitution and considered for consultation on appointment of a fraction of membership into the District Assembly, Traditional Authorities before the Guggisberg 1925 Constitution have continued to be very influential in conducting communal affairs affecting their localities which has consequently affected the mindset and social reality of the Ghanaian positively and enticed the Ghanaian to cooperate in the administration and support of the chieftaincy institution.
Professor DC Yardley an authority in the British constitution has it that, ??The constitution of any country must comprise the fundamental structure and organization of that country…? Seth Yeboa Bimpong-Buta (the role of the Supreme Court …).
?Article 242; A District Assembly shall consist of the following members – (a) one person from each local government electoral area within the district elected by universal adult suffrage; (b) the member or members of Parliament from the constituencies that fall within the area of authority of the District Assembly as members without the right to vote;(c) the District Chief Executive of the district; and(d) other members not being more than thirty percent of all the members of the District Assembly, appointed by the President in consultation with the traditional authorities and other interest groups in the district.?
Article 240 (2) ?(e) to ensure the accountability of local government authorities, people in particular local government areas shall, as far as practicable, be afforded the opportunity to participate effectively in their governance.? And Article 240(b) provides that ?Parliament shall by law provide for the taking of such measures as are necessary to enhance the capacity of local government authorities to plan, initiate, co-ordinate, manage and execute policies in respect of all matters affecting the people within their areas, with a view to ultimately achieving localization of those activities;
Whilst people in particular local government shall be afforded opportunity to participate effectively in local governance endeavours so must it be known that some of the laws of the Ghana are generally not meant for the entire society as a whole as a result of our cultural and traditional variations under our customary laws covered under Article 11(3) of the 1992 constitution ?(3) For the purposes of this article, “customary law” means the rules of law, which by custom are applicable to particular communities in Ghana.?
At the forefront of people much involved in the practice and use of candour and valour in our customary values are the chieftaincy institution guaranteed under Article 270 ?(1)The institution of chieftaincy, together with its traditional councils as established by customary law and usage, is hereby guaranteed.? And Article 272 undertake the progressive study, interpretation and codification of customary law with a view to evolving, in appropriate cases, a unified system of rules of customary law, and compiling the customary laws and lines of succession applicable to each stool or skin;? and their attributes reaffirmed by Act 759(2000) under section 3 subsection 1(a, b, and c) under functions of the National House of Chiefs ?(I) The National House shall (a) advise a person or an authority charged with a responsibility under the Constitution or any other law for any matter related to or affecting chieftaincy, (b) undertake the progressive study, interpretation and codification of the customary law with a view to evolving, in appropriate cases, a unified system of rules of customary law, and compiling the customary laws and lines of succession applicable to each stool or skin, (e) undertake an evaluation of traditional custom and usage with a view to eliminating custom and usage that is outmoded and socially harmful, and?
The Constitution after having granted the leave to practice and profess customary practices under ?Article 26 (1) Every person is entitled to enjoy, practice, profess, maintain and promote any culture, language, tradition or religion subject to the provisions of this Constitution,? decided and burdened the State of Ghana to infuse into the fabric of national life through formal and informal means the culture and tradition of the people of Ghana under Article 39(1) and (2) ;
?Article 39.(1) Subject to clause (2) of this article, the State shall take steps to encourage the integration of appropriate customary values into the fabric of national life through formal and informal education and the conscious introduction of cultural dimensions to relevant aspects of national planning.?
?39 (2) The State shall ensure that appropriate customary and cultural values are adapted and developed as an integral part of the growing needs of the society as a whole; and in particular that traditional practices which are injurious to the health and well-being of the person are abolished.?
The task of adapting and developing customary values and practice as an integral part the growing needs of the Ghanaian society as whole must not be underestimated. It is huge and it involves responsibilities underpinned with sacred duties to get the people of Ghana their identities properly placed and secured within the confines of their various communities.
These responsibilities cannot be managed effectively within the realm of the traditional councils, a separate state institution mandated to manage only matters affecting chieftaincy institution or District Assemblies of the various regions in Ghana without the keenly support of the banks and depository of the culture and traditions of the people of Ghana.
It requires consolidating, infusing and merger of public institutions and traditional councils and avail them of all available opportunities within the realm of the State of Ghana to disseminate information on customary practices to fall in line with progressive methodologies of political and human rights trait to make Ghana a fountain of hope and success in our social and cultural endeavours.
?No people can profit by or be helped under institutions which are not the outcome of their own character?. Edward Blyden
?Men are never more offended than when their ceremonies and practices are flouted. Seeking to oppress them is sometimes a proof of the esteem one has for them; flouting their customs is always a mark of contempt.? Montesquieu, Considerations on the Causes of the Greatness of the Romans and their Decline.
Managers of the Land.
Whilst Act 462(1993) was enacted to address issues affecting local governance and its structures in Ghana, (a delegated Central Government Power) it bluntly refused to recognize the presence of Traditional Authorities in the districts, who are naturally the custodians of the land that makes Ghana and the custodians of the customs and traditions of our particular communities in which is situate the District Assembly, the Highest Political Authority covered under Article 241.3 quoted above.
The Constitution recognised possession of land as a vital commodity in the life of the Ghanaian and charged those responsible with social obligation to serve the larger community. These managers of the land that makes the land of Ghana are connected to the stools and skins of which the heads are the chiefs identified in chapter twenty two of the constitution 1992, Article ?277 In this Chapter unless the context otherwise requires, “chief” means a person, who, hailing from the appropriate family and lineage, has been validly nominated, elected or selected and enstooled, enskinned or installed as a chief or queen mother in accordance with the relevant customary law and usage.?
Article ?36(8) The State shall recognise that ownership and possession of land carry a social obligation to serve the larger community and, in particular, the State shall recognise that the managers of public, stool, skin and family lands are fiduciaries charged with the obligation to discharge their functions for the benefit respectively of the people of Ghana, of the stool, skin, or family concerned and are accountable as fiduciaries in this regard.?
Notwithstanding the fact that chiefs are debarred to participate in active party politics under Article 94(3) and Article 276(1) and political party Act 574(2000) section 26 subsection 1and2, they are debarred to canvass or support party politics or become office holding member of political parties registered in Ghana, Article 276(2) required that ?(2) Notwithstanding clause (1) of this article and paragraph (c) of clause (3) of article 94 of this Constitution, a chief may be appointed to any public office for which he is otherwise qualified.?
Considering social obligation charged on the stool and skin and for that matter the Paramount Chiefs identified at Article 295 paragraph 15 of the constitution 1992, enforces equity to demand that they be accorded a position in the District Assembly to share their views with the elected members as to how they shall all conform in the building of their society (ties).
It is incongruous to create a platform with a higher social attributes with deliberative, legislative and executive powers and exclude active participation of traditional authorities of our localities in the composition of membership to that platform.
It is also derogatory to make a subject of a stool, and for that matter, a subject of a Paramount chief, an officer superior over the Paramount chief, the fiduciary of the land, in which is situate the District Assembly.
?Deliberative, legislative and executive authority? does not purposively connote one principle of Administrative institution for which District Chief Executives could receive direct directives from their employer the President of Ghana (Article 243.1), to execute the directives on their respective districts without considering the affections and views of the other members of the Assembly. District Assembly is a political authority. Article 241.3 rather reaffirms Article 240.1 and 240.2b and Article 35.6d for that matter.
There is also no ambiguity in the constitutional provision Article 241.3 indicating otherwise of the wording ?deliberative, legislative and executive? as a delegated central government power conferred unto district assemblies neither would it conflict with any other constitutional provisions contained in the entire 1992 constitution with respect to ?appointing? and, active participation of traditional authorities in the administration of district assemblies for which the traditional authorities are naturally the overlords.
What Safe Democracy Ghana is advocating for rather reinforces Article 276.(2) of the constitution 1992 (?Notwithstanding clause (1) of this article and paragraph (c) of clause (3) of article 94 of this Constitution, a chief may be appointed to any public office for which he is otherwise qualified,?) for solemn socio-political environment devoid of rumpus and chaos.
Article 240(2) The system of decentralized local government shall have the following; (b) Parliament shall by law provide for the taking of such measures as are necessary to enhance the capacity of local government authorities to plan, initiate, co-ordinate, manage and execute policies in respect of all matters affecting the people within their areas, with a view to ultimately achieving localization of those activities; (c) there shall be established for each local government unit a sound financial base with adequate and reliable sources of revenue;
If for any reason the Constitution demands Parliament to make provisions of all essentials and incentives to capacitate District Assemblies to function adequately to expectations and encourage all manners of persons in the district to participate in the making of decisions that affects them, then it is amply reasonable to consider the bastion of our culture and tradition, the custodians of the land on which the district is born, to be munificently embedded in the heart of the assembly to be part and parcel of decisions making body of the assembly with specific responsibilities at least, to indicate or beckon representations other than being passively consulted into electing a fraction of the 30% Presidential appointees to the assembly.
Safe Democracy Ghana, on considering section 10 of Act 462(1993) advocates for a repeal of the Act to allow the appointing agency, the President of Ghana, rather not to consult but confer 20% seat to the Traditional Authorities and make the President of the Traditional council the Ceremonial Head of the District Assembly and to co-chair the Assembly to understand what goes about in his enclave as head of the traditional council and subsequently inform all other members of the traditional council what transpired at the assembly with regards to social, economic and political developments and the way forward.
Policies and physical programmes started in the district shall see continuity when there is change of government without hitches reaffirmed by Article 35(7) of the constitution 1992 ?Article 35(7) As far as practicable, a government shall continue and execute projects and programmes commenced by the previous Governments.? as Act 642(1993) section 4 subsection one affirms perpetual successions of district assemblies with a common seal. ?4.(I) A District Assembly shall be a body corporate with perpetual succession and a common seal and may sue and be sued in its corporate name.?
Safe Democracy Ghana desires that, District Chief Executives be elected from among themselves the honourable members of the Assembly and be addressed as such ?the Honourable District Chief Executive Officer of a distinguished Assembly and the President of the Traditional Council (Act 759 Section 13 subsection 1and 2 becomes the Ceremonial Heads of the Assembly.
Act 759(2000) 13. ?(1)The paramount chief of a traditional area or in the case of the Kumasi traditional area, the Asantehene, shall be the President of the Traditional Council.?
?(2) In any other case, the presidency shall be held by the paramount chiefs in the traditional area on a two yearly rotational basis in alphabetical order of stool or skin name.?
The District co-ordinating director shall be the central government representative and head the civil service department within the Assembly for smooth efficient running of the assembly.

Source: Munir Saani
Executive Secretary
Safe Democracy Ghana.

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