General News of Tuesday, 5 February 2013
Executive Director of Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), Professor Kwame Karikari, has said ”government spokespersons talk too much” and more often than not, it appears as if they are speaking for the party rather than doing government communication.
He told Adom News government communicators, particularly under the late President John Evans Atta Mills, often under the influence of partisan politics, rushed and churned out inaccurate information and propaganda in reaction to comments from political opponents, rather than researching the issues and giving accurate information.
He is therefore urging President John Mahama, who is a trained communicator himself, to streamline his communication strategy properly to ensure a clear distinction between government and party communicators, and also to ensure that his communicators do sober reflection and research before making public statements.
Prof. Karikari was speaking of the recent blunder committed by the newly appointed Minister of Information, Mahama Ayariga, who held his maiden press conference as Minister and told journalists that President Mahama had no relationship with American gay rights activists Andrew Solomon prior to the President’s book launch in New York last year.
But the Presidency refuted the minister’s untruth and confirmed that the President actually had a friendship relationship with Mr. Solomon prior to the book launch.
The Minister has since come out to apologize and retracted his untruth, but Prof. Karikari said he had no business putting out such untruth in the first place, without consulting the president to know the full facts.
The Professor said the Minister’s conduct was similar to that many government communicators under the various governments in the fourth republic, who chose to rush to the public space and make statements without the benefits of the full facts.
He noted that the office of the Minister of Information required the minister to be the mouthpiece of the entire government machinery, including the presidency/executive, so the minister cannot afford not to be on top of issues across the entire spectrum of government.
“Ghana is a multi-party democracy, but the role of the Minister of Information is completely different from that of political party propaganda machinery – the two should not be confused,” he said.
Prof. Karikari recalled that government communicators under the late President Mills did great disservice to the late president and his government because they often rushed to the public space with half-truths and untruths without due consultation, and they usually brought dishonor to the presidency.
Even though the professor did not mention names, it is common knowledge that former Director of Communication at the Presidency, Koku Anyidoho, former Director of Operations, Nii Lante Vanderpuye, and Spokesperson for Vice President Mahama, John Jinapor committed such blunders under the late President Mills.
The Professor said conducts such as those of Mr Ayariga and other government spokespersons in recent times, tend to fuel rumor mongering rather than bringing sanity into the public space.
Professor Karikari said it is sad that when communication experts like himself comment on the flaws in the government communication machinery, “people in government vilify us”, but truth be told, that government communicators in the Fourth Republic have not done justice to their offices.