JOINT COMMUNIQU… ON THE CHIEFTAINCY BILL 2008
The Civil Society Platform on the Chieftaincy Bill 2008, led by Campaign for Good Governance, Network Movement for Justice and Development and Methodist Church Sierra Leone on Wednesday 1st April 2009, held a one day consultative forum with Honurable Paramount Chief members of parliament, representatives of member of the Council of Paramount Chiefs and civil society to discuss the proposed chieftaincy Bill 2008.
During the forum, the relevance of the Chieftaincy Institution in local governance in Sierra Leone was underscored, even though the practice has changed over the years.
It was also established that both civil society and Paramount Chiefs have a critical role to play in fostering participatory democracy and responsive governance in the country. There is, therefore, need for these institutions to hold regular consultations, and complement each others efforts.
Thus the Draft Chieftaincy Bill parents a unique opportunity for these stakeholders to proffer relevant suggestions to consolidate chiefdom governance for peace and stability in moving Sierra Leone forward.
The deliberations of the forum concluded that the following issues should be incorporated in the Bill and the 1991Constitution by the Ministry of Local Government and the House of Parliament.
∑ That in section 72 (4), the expression gross misconduct be defined to state what it constitutes.
∑ That the chiefdom should have a chiefdom council and chiefdom committee with the following functions:
1. That the Chiefdom Council (TAs) be elected by all tax payers of their respective sections in the chiefdom.
2. That the ineffectiveness of the Chiefdom Council is because of its large number. Therefore, its law making function be transferred to the Chiefdom Committee. The role of the Chiefdom Council (TAs) will be mainly for the election of Paramount Chiefs and Sub Chiefs.
∑ That clause 4 (1b), the Chiefdom Councillors list be published
∑ In the Gazette, exhibited, verified and popularized. The exhibition should be done in the chiefdom at least 30 days before the election of a Paramount Chief.
∑ That a penalty should be prescribed for Section 7(2) which talks about Government interference in the conduct of PC elections.
∑ The clause on adopted children not being qualified for candidacy should be preface by "Not with standing any other provision of the law. This is to avoid conflict with laws dealing with adoption.
∑ That decision on any objection to the title/claim of an Aspirant brought to the TAs be reached through secret ballot and not by acclamation.
∑ That the provision of section 18 (1) to contest the matter in court be done by the contestant only.
∑ That the election of sub chiefs be presided over by Paramount Chief and not Provincial Secretary.
∑ That the proposed 7 days in the current Draft Chieftaincy Bill be extended to 14 days.
∑ The rational clause of amalgamated chiefdoms should not be im posed but left to evolve at the convenience of the parties.
∑ That the elected Town/Section Chiefs to appoint their speakers.
∑ To expunge the word Ďotherwiseí from the clause dealing with the removal of chiefs in the Draft Bill.
∑ That since the current Chieftaincy Bill waiting enactment only.
∑ Addresses the issue of electing Paramount Chiefs and Sub Chiefs it is therefore imperative that the Chiefdom Council Act be reviewed/amended to address those broader issues of chiefdom governance.
In conclusion, we are of the view that if the above issues are addressed this will go a long way to make the chieftaincy institution more relevant to the needs and aspiration of the country. THE END
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