A communiqué for an amendment on the Chieftaincy Bill 2008 has recently been drafted after a Civil Society consultative forum with honorable Paramount Chiefs, representatives of members of council of Paramount Chiefs and Civil Society ..
During the one day consultative forum which was held on Wednesday 1st April this year by Campaign for Good Governance, Network Movement for Justice and Development and Methodist Church Sierra Leone the relevance of the chieftaincy institution in local governance in Sierra Leone was underscored.
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.
It was stressed that as a result of their important role it is therefore imperative for these institutions to hold regular consultations and complement each other’s efforts.
Noting that the draft chieftaincy bill presents 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 1991 Constitution, by the Ministry of Local Government and the House of Parliament
It was stated that in section 72 (4), the expression ‘gross misconduct’ be defined to state what it constitutes and that the Chiefdom should have a Chiefdom Council and Chiefdom Committee with the following functions: The chiefdom council be elected by all tax payers for their respective sections in the chiefdom; and that because the effectiveness of the chiefdom council is as a result of its large number, its is therefore vital that the law making function be transferred to the chiefdom committee.
It was pointed out that the role of the chiefdom council will be mainly for the election of Paramount Chiefs and Sub Chiefs.
The communiqué noted that clause 4(1b), which states that the Chiefdom Councilors list be published in the gazette, exhibited, verified and popularized should ensure that the exhibition should be done in the chiefdom at least 30 days before the election of a Paramount Chief and that a penalty should be prescribed for section 7 (2) which talks about government interference in the conduct of PC elections.
The communiqué also noted that the clause on adopted children not being qualified for candidacy should be preface by “notwithstanding any other provision of the law.” This it states is to avoid conflict with laws dealing with adoption.
Also noting that decision on any objection to the title or claim of an aspirant brought to the chiefdom councils is reached through secret ballot and not acclamation.
It also stated that the provision of section 18 (1) to contest the matter in court be done by the contestant only, adding that the election of sub chiefs be presided over by a Paramount Chief and not the Provincial Secretary.
That the proposed 7 days in the current draft chieftaincy bill be extended to 14 days, and the rational clause of amalgamated chiefdoms should not be imposed but left to evolve at the convenience of the parties.
It was stated that the elected Town or Section Chiefs to appoint their speakers.
The communiqué also called for the expunging of the word ‘otherwise’ from the clause dealing with removal of chiefs in the Draft Bill, noting 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 or amended to address those broader issues of chiefdom governance.