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General News of Wednesday, 21 July 2021


Sputnik V probe: Be fair to health minister – Afenyo-Markin to media

Chair of the Sputnik V probe committee, Alexander Kwamina Afenyo-Markin Chair of the Sputnik V probe committee, Alexander Kwamina Afenyo-Markin

Chair of the Sputnik V probe committee, Alexander Kwamina Afenyo-Markin has asked the media to fairly report the proceedings.

He specifically warned TV3 and Joy FM not to quote persons who appear before the committee out of context.

His comments come after the media reported Health Minister, Kwaku Agyemang-Manu as having admitted he did not do due diligence before contracting with the private office of one Emirati Sheikh, H.H Sheikh Ahmed Dalmook Al Maktoum for 3.4 million doses of Sputnik V at a unit cost of $19.

The deal was uncovered by a Norwegian journalist, Markus Tobiassen, who works with tabloid Vergens Gan, to have been inflated by some $9 citing the ex-factory price of the vaccine as $10.

What ensued in Ghana after the exposé was controversy, including demands by the minority for the deal to be investigated. A parliamentary committee was subsequently set up to probe the deal.

Appearing before the committee, Mr. Kwaku Agyemang-Manu said the exigencies of the Covid-19 impaired his ability to do things as he ordinarily would.

“Those were not normal times and I was seriously in a situation that didn’t make me think properly, the way you think that now I will actually abreast myself with the situation,” he told the committee Monday, July 19.

The minister said, the whole deal was reached out of desperation and frustration on the part of his office, the reason he did not seek parliamentary approval for the international transaction as is required under Article 181 (5) of the Constitution of Ghana 1992.

“February, 78, March 56, there were the numbers and if you, any of us here were the Health Minister at the time I think you might have taken certain decisions that on hindsight or going forward you may not have done. This was the environment that I found myself in. Out of desperation, frustration, so many things and people were dying, we needed to protect our citizens”

At the hearing today Wednesday, July 21, Mr Afenyo-Markin said “The only way the media can help us succeed is to ensure a balanced reportage, fair reportage. We are unable to determine your editorial policies or decisions that you take at your editorial meetings but where we find that there is a deliberate attempt by a media house to quote a witness out of context, we will not hesitate to take a decision.

“It means that you are not being fair to the witness. I don’t want to call out names but I will plead with Joy FM and TV3 to look critically what they put out there because sometimes people don’t read the content.

“If you would realize for the past 48 hours it has been that headline ‘I didn’t think properly' and it is unfair to the witness as though that is what he told this committee. So please let us not prejudice the outcome of this hearing. Please report fairly. Be careful how you put out your headlines.”