Members of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) went to the polls last week Friday and successfully elected new executives to steer the affairs of media fraternity in the country for the next two years. The success was, however, not achieved on a silver platter, as disputes over the conduct of the election travelled all the way to the High Court. This delayed the process leading to the conduct of the poll, but we are happy that at the end of the day, peace has prevailed.
Since in every election there is bound to be winners and losers, The Chronicle does not expect those who lost Friday’s election to be back benchers – but actively participate in programmes and activities of the association. This is not the time to revisit past issues that nearly thwarted the forward march of the association. Already, some members are alleging that the losers have failed to congratulate the victors. We see this as after election blues that will eventually fade away with time.
In the same vein, The Chronicle also expects the newly elected executives to actively involve the candidates who lost in all matters affecting journalists in the country. There is no way the Albert Dwumfuor led leadership can achieve success if they decide to relegate to the background the advice and contributions of Dave Agbenu, Gayhart Mensah and all those who lost in Friday’s election. The persistent attack on journalists over their works is a major problem that the new executives would have to deal with, but they can only do so with a united front.
The Minister for Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, had already pleaded with the bench to mete out severe punishment to those who attack journalists during the course of their work. This is a bold statement from the politician, who is also a journalist, and what we, as journalists, need to do is to complement his efforts to ensure that journalism practice does not become a crime in the country.
No country can survive in this modern world without the work of journalists or the fourth estate of the realm, but people we consider as hooligans do not appreciate this and continue to attack the media anytime either they themselves or their pay masters are exposed by journalists. Even though there are laws governing the country, it appears the perpetrators of this crime are not receiving the maximum punishment from the courts. This is why GJA must support the call made by the Information Minister to ensure that those who have developed the habit of attacking journalists receive the maximum punishment to serve as a deterrent to others.
Another important issue the new executives must tackle with alacrity is the membership of the association. One of the contentious issues that arose in the run up to the Friday’s poll was the credibility of the voter’s registers. To some of the contestants, the register was bloated with names of people who are not, in their view, considered as journalists. The Chronicle advises the association to resolve the issue so that future elections will not be embroiled in the current controversy we witnessed.
Since Ghana, as a country, is going digital, it is high time the GJA also went digital by providing Identity cards that have all the modern features embedded in it for members. Reports indicate that a number of senior journalists, though qualified to cast their ballots, could not do so because their names were not found in the register. This is a serious aberration that could have put the newly elected executives’ mandate in danger, if those who did not find their names had decided to proceed to court, which we are not advising them to do.
This is why we are advocating for the Electronic Identity Cards to complement the manual register. Journalists cannot be writing or reporting on the digitisation of the national economy, but fail to do same at their own backyard.