[Opinion] The Electoral Commission and National House of Chiefs brouhaha

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1. One key challenge in many developing democracies, particularly in the third world, has been the near hook-line-sinker application of the dogmas of democracy, in complete disregard of time tested traditional values.

2. It may be true that culture and traditional values, are dynamic and must undergo mutations from time to time. However, no nation develops by wholesale abandoning of its culture. Certain cultural values, like respect for ELDERS, in view of their wisdom and experience, cannot be sacrificed, simply because of democratic dispensation.

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3. Given the respect accorded them in traditional governance, elders in modern African democracies, are per norm, expected to wield some moderating influences, on the conduct of democratic politics. Given their respect and influence, they are expected to step in to ensure calm, when there are acts and misunderstandings that threaten the stability and peace of any country.

4. Many people do not know that the international market value of Ghana, lies in its peace. But this is truly the case and hence, acts that could derail peace must tackled with the support and cooperation of all.

5. I consider the National House of Chiefs as an umbrella body that houses eminent chiefs in Ghana. That they constitute a body akin to the traditional council of elders for Ghana as a whole, is indubitable. Per their pedigree, Chiefs must be able to intervene to resolve disputes, without allowing combatants to go through the adversarial court processes all the time. They must act swiftly to mediate to ensure that needless protests and demonstrations are nipped in the bud, just for the purposes of protecting what gives us our market value on the world stage.

6. I am aware that since February 2020, the National House of Chiefs has tried to meet with the Electoral Commission, to discuss matters of the compilation of voters roll, and other allied issues, that if not properly handled, could degenerate. Unfortunately, the Electoral Commission, has not been able to find the time to meet with this body, due to its tight schedule.

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7. The near postponement in perpetuity of the intention of the chiefs, to meet with the EC, is not too good. Traditionally, regardless of your schedule, you will have no excuse not to honor a call from the elders, particularly when you do not know why you are being summoned.

8. The kind of democracy that makes modern institutions overly assertive of their independence, over time-tested traditional values and institutions, must be looked at again. Else, it risk being labeled, continuously, as foreign imposition, and will not escape the threat of being supplanted one day.

9. It is my plea that, regardless of their schedule and perception of the National House of Chiefs, the Electoral Commission must show respect to the Chiefs and meet with them. The cultural value of respect for the elderly, pre-dates the independence and mandate of any institution set up by the 1992 Constitution. We must not throw all our values away, simply because of democracy.

10. The National House of Chiefs and indeed, some of the Chiefs who constitute the house, must also sit up and learn painful lessons from the near disrespect being accorded them. The framers of the 1992 Constitution, in their attempt to maintain the respect and sanctity of the institution of Chieftaincy, placed an injunction that banned chiefs from doing partisan politics. Unfortunately, some chiefs have honored this injunction in its breach. They have grossly violated this injunction and have been involved in either open or surreptitious partisan politics.

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11. Who will respect an NDC or NPP Chief? I cannot imagine the Electoral Commission finding excuses not to meet with the Ashantihene when the latter invites the former to a meeting. In my view, it may well be because, the Ashantihene, regardless of efforts by some unscrupulous people to tag him as partisan, has over the years, demonstrated some level of political neutrality. This is worthy of emulation by all chiefs, who care about the respect and sanctity of the institution of Chieftaincy.

13. The Electoral Commission, admittedly, must be very busy around this time. The National House of Chiefs, may have it’s own flaws, including recent divisions among them and lack of partisan purity. Regardless, the EC must show respect to our traditional values and make use of the potential role of chiefs in dousing the rising flames of tension in Ghana in the lead up to the 2020 General Elections.

14. Our Eminent Chiefs must know that, their role and respect in the modern Ghanaian democratic society, will continue to diminish to an infinitesimal level, so long as they remain divided, entertain schisms, and yield to the temptations of partisan politics.

Yaw Gyampo
A31, Prabiw
PAV Street
Suro Nipa House

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