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President’s media engagement good for democracy

BY: Daily Graphic
President John Mahama

The 1992 Constitution enjoins the media to hold the government accountable to the people of Ghana. It does not, however, say explicitly how the media, acting as the watchdog of society, are empowered to scrutinise the activities of the government and the governed.

The media, particularly the state-owned, are insulated from government control or control by any interests, be it from the community or business.

Generally, society recognises that for democracy to thrive, there is the need for a free and independent media. It is also important that the media do not always fight for freedom but strive as much as possible to be responsible.

After all, without the free flow of information, the people cannot be empowered to make free choices during elections. That is why politicians will continue to court media friendship and support in all their endeavours.

 

Elsewhere, heads of state and government engage the media on a weekly basis, with those who cannot do so directly speak to the people through radio and television broadcast frequently.

Since 2001, our Presidents have tried to engage the media on an annual basis, although there have been occasions when the timelines could not be met.

In a media-rich country such as ours, journalists would wish to get their Presidents to speak about their stewardship and be quizzed on the way they had been managing the resources entrusted to them.

Be that as it may, the Daily Graphic commends President John Mahama for once again opening up to media scrutinity.

We are not in a position to award marks, but the fact that he found it prudent to face the media for questions on his stewardship over the last three years speaks volumes and shows his commitment to transparency and accountability.

The President answered many questions and some journalists and other people nodded in agreement, but there could be others who may not be satisfied with the answers provided, though.

However, the media engagement offers one positive development in our democracy — the government has thrown light on a number of issues that have been bothering the minds of the people. Issues of dumsor, ex-Guantanamo Bay detainees, the IMF bailout, corruption and so-called heavy taxes on the people were raised by journalists.

The President is aware of the implications of his interaction with the media and the answers he provided. He stated categorically that his achievements would speak for him at the November 7, 2016 polls.

Even for those who are opposed to the President, they should be happy that he has thrown virtually everything he has done over the last three years into the open for a debate.

We have said time and again that we do not have to endorse everything that our leaders do, but the strength of our society lies in the opportunity offered everybody to express his or her opinion.

The Daily Graphic urges everybody to tolerate divergent views because unity in diversity holds the key to democratic development.

All in all, we think the exercise has been worth it and we commend all for making the media interaction civil, devoid of intemperate language. But we need more of such interactions.