You are here: HomeWallOpinionsArticles2013 07 05Article 278714

Opinions of Friday, 5 July 2013

Columnist: Mawuena, Emmanuel Kwasi

The court of public opinion

Opinions they say are like noses. If no two opinions are the same, how much more public opinions made up of thousands of noses. The era of live telecast of election petition in a highly polarised country that has just undergone a fiercely contested election has further aggravated the diversity of views. Perhaps it is time we came to terms that there is no more reality as society is totally thrown into a state of prejudice where people hear what they want to hear irrespective of realities and what is said. To make things worse, there is hardly anything of fact when it comes to the two major political parties – the NPP and the NDC in this country.
Anyway, one may argue that the law itself is subjective and its interpretation lies in the bosom of the judges. If this is true, then how varied and weird are the views and interpretations of the ordinary man concerning the law? Irrespective of what you think, there can be a world of difference between the court of competent jurisdiction and court of public opinion. Whilst the later starts off like a raging bush fire and moves at a speed of sound, it has little potency compared to the court of competent jurisdiction that may be slow but grips with power, authority and potency.
In spite of this, the effort of major players in the on-going election petition seems to be focused and targeted at winning favourable public opinion. Political leaders as well as their lawyers and communication teams are clearly battling for ‘market share’ in the court of public opinion. The general secretaries of the two major parties started badly and the least said about them the better. Thank God they have toned down. Perhaps they have harkened to advice, adhered to public bashing and more recently deterred by the activated arm of contempt charges.
It is, however, sad to note that beyond these two general secretaries, political parties and their surrogates including lawyers have continued on the path of propaganda; spinning, twisting and misrepresenting information and facts to mislead the public. Political leaders and lawyers are misinforming the public and misleading their gullible supporters. Some have resorted to regular press release to create their own world of reality. The unrelenting effort by political leaders and their communication teams to score political points is not helping issues. Even lawyers who are supposed to help the ordinary people to understand issues better are invariably towing political and ideological lines to the dismay of objective minds. It is not surprising that stern warnings from the judges are being followed by action.
Amid this worrying trend are the seeming benign and interesting views on the part of the ordinary observers. A common vocab that runs through all the arguments in the market places, trotros, drinking bars among other public dwellings is the ‘pink sheet’. In addition, rulings on objections have become political goals that are cheered on by fans. But the question remains how substantive these objectives are to the determination of the case. For a party may win all objections, but lose the substantive case.
On the backdrop of the polarised discussions in the media, perhaps it is time to watch/listen to the live telecast and make meaning out of it. Political leaders must learn to trust the court for judgement and not resort to public opinion court. Beyond the futility of public opinions, it may not even matter how well a lawyer argues a case, but how the judges view and see the facts in the matter. Clearly, the renowned judges have so far demonstrated that even arguments by lawyers may not matter so much, but what matters is the law as well as the evidence available to them. Lawyers and political leaders should, therefore, focus on the issue in court and spare us the propaganda that is fuelling erroneous public opinions and expectations. For now, please mind/watch what you say and where you say it for you might miss your comfortable bed ‘if you apply to go to the Supreme Court’.

Emmanuel Kwasi Mawuena
kmawuenah@gmail.com
Accra

Send your news stories to and features to . Chat with us via WhatsApp on +233 55 2699 625.

Join our Newsletter