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Media have been most disappointing in helping EC – Dr. Afari-Gyan

Dr Afari-Gyan was the main speaker at the forum

A former Commissioner of the Electoral Commission, Ghana, Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, has slammed the media for what he described as a “missed opportunity to be a public educator and a guardian of democracy”.

In the view of the eminent academic and longest-serving Chairman of Ghana’s election-management body, the media have so far been “disappointing” in their approach to “electoral reporting and political discourse”.

Dr. Afari-Gyan, who was a keynote speaker at the 5th edition of the Accra Dialogue series organized by Media General in partnership with the Institute of Law and Public Affairs observed the media need to do more.

Speaking on the theme ‘Consolidating Ghana’s Democratic Governance: The Role Of The Electoral Commission’, Dr. Afari-Gyan noted that the Commission has over the years partnered with key stakeholders to help build the electoral democracy of Ghana but that with the media has not yielded the desired results.

“In my view, of all the partnership that the Electoral Commission has tried to build in support of the electoral democracy, that with the media has been the most disappointing,” he noted.

He observed that efforts by regulatory bodies and institutions to keep the media in check and to guide them to be effective in contributing to a sound electoral democracy have equally proven futile.

“In spite of the efforts of the [National] Media Commission and the Ghana Journalists Association, with a few exceptions, the quality of the electoral reporting and political discourse generally remains poor indeed,” he observed.

Explaining more on the issue, Dr. Afari-Gyan clarified he does not mean journalists are “useless” but many know little about the electoral process despite the education the EC gives them.

He cited an instance in Nima, where results were reported to have been recounted, only for him to get there and it was something else.

According to him, journalists very often misconstrue the terms used in the electoral process stating many equate “irregularities to wrongdoing”.

Dr. Afari-Gyan is, however, not surprised that the media are not doing enough to help democracy because Ghana’s “landscape is littered with partisan political media establishments”.

His fears, however, are that if care is not taken “this undesirable state of affairs is likely to be accentuated in the social media”.

Meanwhile,  Director of Elections of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Samuel Ofosu-Ampofo,  and Peter Mac Manu, an International Election Observer with the Democratic Union of Africa and a former chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), as well as former MP for Jomoro, Samia Yaaba Nkrumah, also a former chairman of the Convention People’s Party (CPP), were also panellists at the event.

Background

The Electoral Commission of Ghana is the only institution mandated by law to organize, administer and supervise public elections in Ghana.

25 years of its existence represents two and a half decades of successful election management in Ghana; strengthening our democratic dispensation and upholding the public’s collective participation in the most important political process – the election of leaders.

While several of the neighbouring states of Ghana have over the last decade descended into chaos owing to poorly managed public elections, Ghana’s story has been one of endurance, albeit tested and stretched in good measure.

It is on the back of this that on the 25 anniversary of the Commission, Media General resolved to look back on the journey so far with the view to celebrating the institution and its stakeholders and mobilize the human (intellectual) resources to audit its progress thus far.

In light of recent controversial developments relating to the Electoral Commission of Ghana (the dismissal of the E.C Chairman Charlotte Osei/ charges of financial impropriety against its commissioners, etc.),  the lecture saw tDr. Afari-Gyan to giving an overview of important strides made in our public elections management since 1993, and key recommendations which are necessary to safeguard the integrity of future elections in Ghana, and enhance the reputation of the Electoral Commission.

By P.D Wedam|3news.com|Ghana

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