The Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah Bonsu, has challenged media practitioners to rise above the frey and not be sucked into partisanship.
He said under the current political duopoly of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC), the media was expected to play its role fairly, neutrally and objectively.
He observed the growing trend of what he described as “media vigilantism” in the country, and called on media owners and practitioners to curb the trend.
Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu who is also the Majority Leader in Parliament was speaking at a media dialogue organised by the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs last Thursday, to elicit media support in curbing political vigilantism in the country.
The forum was themed, Curbing Political Vigilantism in Ghana:The Media’s Take”.
He said it was worrying that the chunk of media space was used to fan acts of vigilantism, a trend which did not augur well for the body politics of the country and requested editors and seasoned journalists not to allow their platforms to be used as avenues.
He said the independence and freedom of the media was guaranteed in Chapter 12 of the 1992 Constitution and if the media could rise above the frey and not be sucked into being partisan it would elevate the media to its rightful place in the society.
“Lurking behind the scenes dangerously and gradually gaining notoriety is the use of social media to unleash psychological violence on political opponents and these faceless and sometimes anonymous perpetrators have to be fished out as traditional media can be easily identified in the case of any infractions resolution”, he said.
The minister lamented, however, that social media spread faster and its effects was immediate just like what happened during the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election recently where some of the videos that went viral were pure untruths and exaggerated.
He said the ministry valued the media’s input for resolving this intractable problem of vigilantism that had become an albatross and have the potential of throwing the country into violent crisis that could derail the hard won dermotropic credentials of the country.
The Chief Director of the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, Dr Evans Aggrey-Darkoh, said the concentration of the ministry for 2019 centred on five priority areas and this included improving participation of civil society organisations.
He encouraged the media to support the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs as they support the promotion of good and accountable government through its strategic areas and objectives.
Mr Aggrey-Darkoh indicated that Ghana’s democracy had won a worldwide acclamation for the straitly it enjoyed and the major milestones such as the conduct of seven free and fair elections supervised by an independent election management body, the experience of three power alterations in 2000, 2008, 2016 all attest to the nations democratic credentials.
He said as the nation strives to consolidate its democracy, the crafting of enduring processes that consolidate the rule of law and make democracy the only game in town requires that, no effort is spared in addressing this incipient democracy-derailing phenomenon called political vigilantism.
State of insecurity
He said the activities of political vigilante groups create general state of insecurity through direct, structural and cultural violence which if not checked could lead to a state of paralysis and state capture with dire consequences for survival in Ghana.
“The ministry recognises that the violence that rocked the bye-elections in Akwatia, Atiwa, Chereponi, Talensi, Amenfi West and most recently , Ayawaso West Wuogon, were largely as a result of the failure of the state and its institutions to promote state and regime security simultaneously.