I’m Not In Bed With Govt – EC Boss

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EC Boss Jean Mensa

The Chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC), Jean Mensa, yesterday deflected the suggestion that the EC she was leading was in bed with the NPP government.

She was reacting to a question from journalists during the opening session of a workshop organized for the media on electoral issues by the EC at the Coconut Grove Hotel in Accra yesterday.

Her humorous response to the question as to whether or not the commission was in bed with government was, “Were we in bed with government, we would have many babies.”

It was a question which she handled with ease and bereft of anger.

She took time to explain the complex yet transparent processes in managing elections, which she insisted made it impossible for anybody to attempt helping the President, even if he was one’s father or uncle.

With the media able even to do its own calculations before the final results and coupled with the prevailing transparency, there was no way the commission could help any of the candidates, she said.

She had earlier called on the media to contribute towards the success of next month’s elections.

Ghana, she said, was on the dawn of a presidential and parliamentary elections in which all had key roles to play.

The media, she said, should help in shaping the destiny of the nation. “The onus is on us as citizens of this country to foster peace and not chaos,” she said.

According to Mrs. Mensa, the EC had, since the day it commenced its work, treaded on the path of transparency and fairness. This, she said, was evidenced in the ‘Let the Citizens Know’ series, an unprecedented module in the history of the EC.

She stated that for the first time, the EC had not relied on the input of development partners for any of its programmes, but rather relying on government funding.

Yesterday’s programme was part of a nationwide cluster of workshops for the media, the disabled and other segments of the population on electoral issues.

The resource person was Dr. Bonnah Koomson, a media consultant for the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA).

As a result of EC’s approach, all vital information about the elections such as the voters register and such other details are known by the citizens.

To the media, she said, “You are our mouthpiece and we count on you to tell our story.”

She urged the media to be fair, truthful and objective in its coverage of the elections.

She pointed out that there had been instances when a section of the media had not given the EC the opportunity to state its side of stories.

“Let us choose the path of peace. The world is watching us. Ghana must win. Ghana will win,” she stressed.

President of the GJA, Affail Monney, thanked the EC for agreeing to fund the cluster of workshops for the media.

“The GJA is also overly grateful to the EC for absorbing the cost of the ID Cards for Election 2020. We recall with pain, the scenario in 2016 when the EC inflicted the cost on journalists. And the backlash, as expected, was swift and sour,” he added.

He questioned why journalists were not compensated for covering elections. According to him, media support provides the oxygen for democracy.

The fulfillment or even non- fulfillment of the state obligation to the media, he said, “Comes with a responsibility which the media must not and dare not shirk. This responsibility relates to orchestrating a campaign discourse devoid of linguistically toxic material which sections of the media shamelessly spread.”

Hostile communication, he observed, could trigger violence, adding “once violence erupts, no one can tell when it will end and the damage it will cause.”

The media, he added, “have an onerous responsibility to help build faith in the election process. Faith in any election is as important as its outcome.”

By Linda Tenyah-Ayettey