General News of Tuesday, 25 September 2018
Information Minister-designate, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah has lampooned a National Democratic Congress (NDC) MP who has dragged the First Lady into a controversy involving a Chinese TV company.
The Kumbungu MP, Ras Mubarak has claimed First Lady Rebecca Akufo-Addo’s acceptance of free jerseys from the company StarTimes, amounts to a conflict of interest situation.
This is because StarTimes has an MoU with government in which the company could land a contract to do “enhancement” work within Ghana’s digital terrestrial space.
Private broadcasters have kicked against government’s plan to engage Chinese satellite TV company, StarTimes, as Ghana plans to cross over to the digital television broadcast.
StarTimes, according to the ministry, is expected to do ‘enhancement’ works on the digital terrestrial infrastructure already put in place by a Ghanaian company, K-NET.
It is this infrastructure that will allow television broadcast to migrate from analogue to digital television which provides better images and sound.
But K-NET has indicated much of the work the Chinese firm is coming in to do has already been done or could be done by their company.
It has raised questions about the rationale behind the government’s plan to bring in StarTimes.
An explanation from government has been that engaging StarTimes is a condition for accessing a loan from a China-backed bank, Eximbank.
This explanation has done little to calm the nerves of some Ghanaians who see this as another worrying sign of China’s imperial agenda in Africa.
NDC MP wades into controversy
The Kumbungu MP claimed, the First Lady will not admit that she put in a word at the Communications Ministry on behalf of StarTimes.
But Kojo Oppong Nkrumah has expressed disgust at the claim which has also been condemned by the Office of the First Lady.
The Minister-designate questioned the MP’s understanding of the phrase, conflict of interest and suggested it would arise if the First Lady were working in some capacity at StarTimes.
The Rebecca Foundation managed by the First Lady has an exchange programme with the Licang District Experimental school in Qingdao in China.
She received football kit from StarTimes after the company expressed support for the sports exchange programme involving 15 children from the SOS Children’s Village.
“How on earth does this justify conflict of interest?”, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah expressed dismay after a lawyer, Martin Kpebu also ruled out the allegation.
The Information Minister-designate condemned the NDC MP’s claim as “total speculation” and charged the media to demand evidence from the opposition politician.
Ras Mubarak also repeated the Minority’s plan to summon the Communications minister, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, before the Communications Committee of Parliament over the controversial plan with StarTimes.
But Oppong Nkrumah continued to express disappointment that after “muddying the waters” with allegations in the media, the MP would now want answers from the minister in parliament.
He said the Minority had a “big platform” in Parliament where they could follow due process by filing a question rather than throw allegations in the media.
“We cannot run a democracy in which we don’t give ourselves the space to have an honest conversation”, he criticised the Minority.