The King of the Asante Kingdom, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II has admitted to the existence of constraints in the way of traditional rulers when it comes to the governance of Ghana.
Despite being accorded the utmost reverence a king of his calibre deserves, he indicates that the political system and structures of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana, give no window for him nor any other traditional ruler in the country to get involved in critical decision-making on the country.
According to him, just as with the constitutional arrangements of the new African “democracies” Ghana’s constitution leaves traditional leadership at the peripheries of national governance.
He admitted that Ghana’s constitution limits the role of traditional rulers to offering useful counsel and advice to elected political leaders as well as serving as interlocutors between them and the ordinary people.
“In the 24 years of our reign as Asantehene, we have had to deal with five Presidents of the Republic. I can only pay tribute to all of them for their exemplary wisdom and their commitment to the common good. They have all accorded us respect and honour and been open to counsel as circumstances demand.
“But that is because they have all been decent men well-steeped in the culture and traditions of their people and conversant with the influence of their chiefs. Their respect for tradition however does not hide the fact that the system of governance in situ, places serious constraints on the role of traditional rulers in the governance of the nation,” he divulged.
The Monarch traces the seclusion of traditional rulers to the colonial order. He indicated that though the traditional system benefitted the British in their quest to colonise and rule over parts of Africa, it unwittingly opened faultlines in the substructure of the edifice of the independent states of the future.
“For example, the British managed to accord special protection for the Kingdom of Buganda in the constitution of independent Uganda in obvious gratitude for the critical support the colonial administration received from the kingdom but it left a deep political scar in relations with Prime Minister Milton Obote who eventually tried to abolish the Kingdom. Thankfully, the Kingdom was restored and remains in full flow today.
“The political dynamics in Ghana proffered a different outcome. Efforts to give traditional authorities a sustainable status in the independence constitutional order failed largely because, as history often tells us, we do not always appreciate the danger until we are in the grip of the elements.”
Otumfuo suggests that the African states make adequate use of the offices of traditional leaders in facilitating dialogue between contending political actors to encourage consensus-building and minimize tension and acrimony in national political discourse.
“That would immediately create an additional layer of the support mechanism needed to sustain national cohesion and stability. It is an option derived from our tradition which would strengthen the foundations of the democratic state but which is not available now.”
The occupant of the Golden Stool made the submission while addressing the St Andrews Africa Summit in Scotland on September 16, 2023.