Jean Mensa — Chairperson, EC, speaking at the 27th GJA media awards
Jean Mensa — Chairperson, EC, speaking at the 27th GJA media awards

Towards peaceful elections: Media role should go beyond rhetoric — EC Chairperson

The Chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC), Jean Mensa, has said the media’s role towards ensuring peace and security in the 2024 election must go beyond mere rhetoric to practising responsible journalism. 

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She has, therefore, charged media professionals to take up their role as custodians of truth by combating misinformation and disinformation to help consolidate the country’s democratic credentials.

“Therefore, your commitment to ensure the peace and security of our country as we go to the polls in 2024, should go beyond mere rhetoric to practising responsible journalism.

Role

“The lessons of Rwanda are evident for all to see.

We are all aware of how the unchecked power of the media contributed to a devastating genocide.

“Disinformation and falsehood turned friends and neighbours into enemies and culminated in a dark chapter of human history.

 This is a path we must vow never to walk on,” the EC chairperson said in her keynote address at the 27th Ghana Journalists Association media awards.

It was on the theme: “Leveraging media freedom to sustain the democratic and security architecture: the litmus test of election 2024”.

Commending the media for its significant role since the inception of the Fourth Republic, she said Ghana’s journey would not have been possible without the media’s pioneering contributions during the early days of our democracy.

However, the EC Chair observed that several media platforms, which should have been spaces for informed public debate, had been turned into vehicles of propaganda and, sometimes, sheer falsehood.

Describing the trend as worrying, she said: “We see the result in the deepening polarisation of our dear nation across party lines.

 Citizens no longer see things through the eyes of right and wrong.”

Mrs Mensa said with the 2024 election in sight and with the stakes being high, the exercise would not only be more than a democratic exercise, but a test of the country’s resilience, adding that the conduct of the media would impact positively or negatively on the country.

“As we go to the polls in December 2024, it is important that you bear in mind that media freedom, while sacrosanct, does not equate to freedom to deceive.

“You should rise and take up your roles as custodians of the truth.

You are duty bound to do so,” she added. 

Scrutiny

While calling on the media to scrutinise the EC, Mrs Mensa said that must be done objectively and added that: “Criticism laced with insults and falsehood should be beneath you”.

“I reiterate that we are partners with you in this quest to build our nation.

“We must all put Ghana first and work to ensure that irrespective of the side of the political divide we may sit, our actions and activities inure to the benefit of Ghana”.

She further urged the National Media Commission to be more proactive and ensure strict adherence to media ethics.

She also called on the public to be discerning adding: “Election 2024 will be a landmark election in the history of our country.

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Let us rise to the occasion and make Ghana proud”.    

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