Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for giving me an opportunity to contribute to the motion on the floor.
Mr. Speaker, I had the opportunity of sitting in when the Legal Resources Centre organized a seminar on this Bill and many issues were raised on the Bill. Mr. Speaker, I wish to identify myself strongly with the sentiments of the hon. Minister for Women and Children's Affairs.
Indeed, the women were of the view that this being a local government activity - chieftaincy principally - its activities are at the local level and they play very, very crucial roles and the Constitution recognizes queenmothers as chiefs and that there must be the need to incorporate them into the various Houses. In fact, they were very forceful on that and if there is an opportunity for us to do that we will be incorporating half or more than half of the population into the mainstream politics of chieftaincy in Ghana and that will go a long way to serve our purpose.
Mr. Speaker, clause 77 of the Bill presented a matter for worry. It says that the Minister should have a power to banish, prohibit a person from continuing to stay in a place if that person is identified as part of the problem of a chieftaincy conflict. I think this one is sending our Minister back to the colonial days and making him a District Colonial Governor and that he should have the opportunity to
determine who should be there and who should not be.
Mr. Speaker, I think this power should be conserved and reserved for the courts; the Minister should not have that power akin to the old power of giving recognition to the chiefs such that he can withhold such recognition. Subject to that amendment, I think that this Bill should be considered.
The chiefs were also of the view that the whole Bill is talking about administration and it does not give them functions. What are they to do? What functions do they play at those levels? Are they supposed to be adjudicating on matters? If they are, why is the Bill not giving them those powers?
In fact, an example was given by Nana Dr. S. K. B. Asante that in his area, the Assemblyman who had been elected had gone round to say that having been elected by the generality of the people to represent them in the Assembly, he was more powerful and important than the chief. The chiefs think that they should be given a role and their role should be defined in the Bill. Indeed, they had almost come to the conclusion that the hon. First Deputy Speaker came to, that on this Bill, we should hasten slowly because they do not see anything new.
I hope that we will take consolation in the fact that this Bill is to revise and consolidate. It is not introducing any new thing; it is revising and consolidating, except that in revising the thing, we should not give the Minister too much powers to determine who must live within our communities.
Mr. Speaker, with these few words, I support the motion on the floor.
Deputy Minister for Justice and Attorney-General (Mr. Kwame Osei-
Prempeh): Mr. Speaker, I also rise to support the motion on the floor. Mr. Speaker in doing so, I would like to say first and foremost that I do not agree with my hon. Friend who just spoke that the Bill does not assign any functions to chiefs.
Mr. Speaker, if you read the Bill, it has gone ahead to define clearly the lineage, the traditional functions of chiefs, the judicial powers and others and even summoning people - giving them powers. I believe anybody who reads the Bill thoroughly will agree with that.
Mr. Speaker, again, I agree with the Committee on violence from chieftaincy. This has been the bane of the society. It comes about because people do not want to follow the customary trend. Go anywhere in the world where we have monarchy or chieftaincy, whether it is in Britain, whether it is in The Netherlands, whether it is in Swaziland, whether it is in Lesotho, whether it is Saudi Arabia or in Ashanti anywhere else, chieftaincy is for a preserved few; it is customary.
If one has nothing to do with the installation of a chief, one has nothing to do with it. It is only a small group, which custom demands, who install the chief. The Constitution gives that mandate to them and the laws of this country give them the power to do so, such that if a concerned citizen sits outside and says that this person cannot be a chief, it should end there. Thus, if people get up and say that if this person becomes a chief, there will be bloodshed, we will fight and people will fight and people will die; it is unfortunate.
We are having this problem in this country because people who do not have the right to install and destool chiefs have taken that upon themselves to dictate who should be chiefs and who should not. And I believe that along with this Bill