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Opinions of Monday, 8 February 2016

Columnist: The Catalyst Newspaper

Gender ministry falls for NPP’s tricks

In what could be termed as Public Relations gone bad, the Public Relations (PR) Department of the Gender, Children and Social Protection Ministry has fallen prey to the tricks of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), which has adopted a new strategy to confuse the public and score cheap political points by fabricating stories in the name of newspapers they deem to be sympathetic to the NDC and publishing the falsehood on the internet.
The new breed of political news purveyors have succeeded in making a victim of many an unobserving individual and institution with their false stories, which only appear on webpages on the internet and social media. The fabricated stories focus solely on unwarranted attacks on the Mahama-led National Democratic Congress (NDC) government and others within the NPP that are considered opponents of NPP flagbearer, Mr Akufo-Addo.
The Gender Ministry happens to be one of the many an unobserving institution that has been fooled by, what can be described as, the NPP’s clone journalism, as the ministry has obviously dropped its guards and got itself entangled in the desperate opposition party’s web of lies.
The PR department of the Ministry of Gender and Social Protection reacted to a story published on ghanaweb.com headed “NDC BEGINS DISTRIBUTION OF MAHAMA TEXTILES FOR VOTES,” attributed to one Ekow Bondzie, who claimed to be with The Catalyst.(see http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/politics/RE-NDC-Begins-distribution-of-Mahama-textiles-for-votes-412847)

“The attention of the LEAP Management Unit under the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection has been drawn to a publication on your website www.ghanaweb.com on Thursday, 28th January, 2016, titled ‘NDC begins distribution of Mahama textiles for votes’. The reporter is Ekow Bondzie of ‘The Catalyst’,” the rejoinder stated.

A diligent work on the part of the Ministry would have drawn their attention to the fact that, The Catalyst never published that story in any of its editions.
More seriously, the ministry would have found out that The Catalyst, having taking notice of that false publication on two websites, issued a disclaimer on ghanaweb on January 31, 2016 (see http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/RE-NDC-begins-distribution-of-mahama-textiles-for-votes-411824) and in the newspaper’s February 1, 2016 edition under the heading, “We Did Not Publish That Bogus Story”, in which the paper distanced itself from the story.
The failure of the Ministry’s PR department to do due diligence led them to react to the story as though it was the work of The Catalyst.
The managers of the PR department of the Gender Ministry’s shoddy work has been exposed further by the fact that they made no effort whatsoever to ascertain the veracity of the said publication from The Catalyst, having seen the publication on the internet and not in the newspaper, considering widespread knowledge of the modus operandi of those behind such ‘419’ stories on the internet and social media in recent times.
A simple effort of making the necessary contacts with the authors to really get to the bottom of the matter before going public in the manner the ministry has done and this has put them at the mercy of the NPP’s trap.
When contacted by following the Gender Ministry’s rejoinder on ghanaweb, this was the Communications Advisor, Mr Abraham Asare’s response: “The rejoinder was issued by the LEAP Management Unit of the Ministry. I am certainly sure they did not see your disclaimer. I however apologise for the embarrassment. Thank you very much.”
The Ministry fell right in the tricks of a party that is stopping at nothing to win power at all cost, especially through foul means.
The said story is one of the numerous ones the NPP is using its operatives to spread on the internet, especially on social media to sow seeds of confusion within the ruling NDC for their parochial interests.
The trick is to clone pro-NDC newspapers with stories that attack the NDC so as to breed disaffection within the ranks of the party.