Chiefs in Partisan politics: Lecturer calls on court for further interpretation
A lecturer at the Department of Political Science of the University of Ghana, Dr Kwame Asah-Asante has called for further interpretation of the law on the Supreme Court’s recent ruling which classifies traditional authorities endorsing political parties and candidates as unconstitutional.
“The Supreme Court ruling pointed out that traditional authorities lauding the policy of a candidate is permissible but some actions and words of traditional authorities when praising same can be questioned,” he stressed.
According to Dr Asah-Asante, in politics, actions were also part of political definition including gestures, for instance, traditional authorities could praise or criticise the government, which was part of politics and the way it was done sometimes could either praise or criticise the government to extent there was tacit support and assistance for the candidate.
His comments comes after the Apex Court, in a unanimous decision, declared that it is unconstitutional for traditional authorities to endorse candidates or their party however, argued that lauding policy of candidates was permissible endorsement.
Justice Yonny Kulendi, who authored the November 2022 Judgment of the court, explained that it was consistent with role of chiefs as champions and advocates for welfare and interests of their communities.
Citing a scenario, Dr Asah-Asante said “if I say ‘your government is first to have given us roads, water, and electricity, I and my people will never forget the gesture’. Is it an endorsement? I am praising, I have not endorsed anybody but I am supporting policy the government has done, which is good so will you say I am in active partisan politics?”
“The use of non-verbal communication which is also part of politics can pose problem where another interpretation can be sought, I can decide not to even say anything, but a word can end up with gesture of political party and does it mean I am in support of the party?
“A gesture like we are moving forward and the other signs they make as well, they are critical in political communication so how do you explain that because other statements where traditional authorities are heard to endorse candidates or his party by declaring their preferential support for election of candidate or his party or appealing to voters to vote for them in partisan political contest which1992 Constitution disapproves of,” Dr Asah-Asante underscored.
He said the Supreme Court’s ruling was commendable and would help the nation police the system to ensure it was not breached.