Politics of Tuesday, 4 December 2012
To many a journalist who were on the ground during the 2008 elections, they could describe their experience as intense and demanding though it brought out the best in our electoral system, comparatively better and unbiased as it were the case in other neighboring West African nations. It was a very long journey, though it granted us the opportunity as media practitioners to test the strength of our institutions (media) , the election process particularly in the second and third rounds is an evidential presentation of what is responsible for wars in other African countries and a short course on ''steps to quell a possible outbreak of electoral violence in any country.''
Without any misconceived intention of causing fear, panic, creating an atmosphere for party favoritism, or blacklisting any party, we would like to remind colleagues in the media that a sizeable amount of attacks were meted out to journalists during the 2008 general elections. The most graphic, symbolic and regrettable of such unprovoked attacks is the harrowing experience of one of our members who almost lost his life in the hands of some party hoodlums who were asked to ‘finish him’ because he was perceived to favour the opposing party.
While monitoring election events in the camp of one of the presidential candidate's residence, he was accosted and fingered as an outcast even though he was only on duty to inform the public as a journalist. He received severe beatings from hoodlums of the party with the tacit collaboration and participation of some officials of the state security who were stationed there. He was later driven away in a security vehicle for what would have become the end of his life but for a supernatural intervention, he lives to tell his horrific experience today.
What is most shocking and heart-breaking is the fact that he received this maltreatment while fellow journalists looked on. In the wake of seemingly violent chants from flag-bearers and leading members of the various political parties, we MOBILE PARLIAMENTARIANS would like to call on all journalists in this year's election to be our brother's keeper. Let us work together in unison now, during and after the upcoming elections. Let us all take simple steps to ensure a free and fair election and particularly to ensuring the safety of every journalist in Ghana.
Even though most of these attacks on journalist are unprovoked, it is also incumbent upon us as media practitioners to take pragmatic steps in preventing any of such occurrences and live above reproach. We thereby recommend the following:
Fairness: Let our reportage be sound and unbiased towards any party. Our duty is to inform the public of incidents and not to stimulate sentiments.
Accountability: During this election, let us work together as media men. No journalist should go on assignment to flashpoints alone or without informing colleagues of his/her whereabouts. On the ground, let us endeavour to work better together, constantly interact with each other and ensure that every member of the media is safe irrespective of any form of perception that he/she has sympathies for any political party.
Synergy: If it does not happen as often any other time, let us compare notes this season and work together first for the peace of the nation and secondly for the success of the election.
Sensationalism: Over the years the media has proven to be more interested in sensational, controversial reportage on issues -political or not. This year, Mahama Ayariga, presidential candidate of the PNC rose to acclaim as an electoral comic relief in some of his submissions at the just ended IEA presidential debates. We ignored the details of campaign promises and while we might not have intentionally orchestrated the intemperate language of some politicians and trivial issues on our platforms, we encouraged it in our quest for sensationalism. Collectively, we have carefully ignored the contents and the execution plans of some of the intended policies of these political parties particularly on education. During this election, let us do away with sensationalism and once again make a mark in African politics.
While we work towards a successful and unbiased coverage of the elections, let us remember we have a bigger task ahead: journalists' voting. We will not enjoy the privilege of VOTING IN ADVANCE for reasons well known to us. We call on every media house to work together with the Electoral Commission (EC) in facilitating this process by issuing regular statements on journalists' voting throughout this week in order to prepare the minds of agents at every polling centre to prevent further misunderstandings. We call on every journalist to be civil with their demands at the polling centers and call on the EC and their agents for their effective cooperation to facilitate journalist in voting. Though voting is the right of every citizen, we pray for privileges during this election season in order to carry out our duties.
Elections come up once every four years; journalists meet daily. After elections, the nation lives on. Let us work united.
- Mobile Parliamentarians, (mps) a social-media based forum of journalists, with the aim of echoing pertinent issues from an apolitical angle through analytical reportage and discussions.
Long live Ghana!!!
Jeorge Wilson Kingson (Ag. Speaker) 0244822034
IPOSU Elijah O. (Clerk) 0244117325