General News of Wednesday, 6 September 2017
A group of civil society organizations (CSOs) have indicated that the posture of the Ghana Journalists’ Association (GJA) over the fight against corruption by investigative journalists suggests that the association may be in bed with some businesses accused of corrupt practices.
The CSOs, comprising the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), Ghana Anti–Corruption Coalition (GACC), Ghana Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), Citizens’ Movement against Corruption (CMaC) and Africa Center for International Law and Accountability (ACILA) made this remark in a press statement in reaction to GJA’s caution to journalists to be mindful not to pronounce certain individuals and businesses guilty of corruption “without trial by a competent court of jurisdiction.”
But the CSOs say they are of the considered opinion that “The GJA may knowingly or unknowingly be playing along with businesses which may be involved in allegations of wrongdoing and want to undermine the work of investigative journalists who are exposing alleged wrongdoing.”
According to the CSOs, the statement issued by GJA’s president, Affail Monney, on August 31, this year, “ostensibly cautioning the media against using its platforms to attack indigenous businesses doing their best to promote Ghana’s social and economic development, taken on a face value, is a genuine expression of concern over a matter within GJA’s mandate.
“However, current developments in the local media suggest a more sinister possibility.”
The CSOs pointed out, “The statement appears to be targeted at the Multimedia Group and Manasseh Azure for the ongoing investigations into questionable contracts the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD) signed with subsidiaries of the Jospong Group.
“It is also apparent that there are contemporaneous efforts by some print and electronic media houses to undermine the ongoing scrutiny into these questionable contracts, an insidious effort for which the GJA statement, unfortunately, provided legitimacy and cover.
“As the GJA is aware, the media has a responsibility to hold state and non-state actors accountable.
“This duty is not diminished when the state interfaces with non-state actors, especially the private sector in the award of public contracts.
“It is not out of place for the GJA to issue a statement aimed at enhancing the standards of media practice.
“However, a statement of this nature, broadly castigating journalists for performing their function under Ghana’s 1992 Constitution, is highly invidious and capable of undermining the hard work of investigative journalists and media houses working tirelessly to uncover the several acts of grand corruption that has engulfed the country and threatening to delegitimize the state.”
Meanwhile, the Dean of the School of Information and Communications Studies at the University of Ghana, Legon, Prof. Audrey Gadzekpo, has described GJA in its present state as a “victim of corporate capture.”
Prof. Gadzekpo, commenting on the warning statement issued by the association to its members, lamented, “Instead of defending the interest of the members, the reason that it [association] exists, it is defending the interest of big business.”