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27.10.2005 Press Review

Editorial: Media Terrorism Is the Name of the Game

By Lens
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So much for NPP's tolerance of critical views and opinions!

In opposition the current government officials and their close allies portrayed themselves as individuals with so much capacity to stomach critical opinions and dissenting views.

Soon after the newspaper licensing law was repealed, opening the floodgates for the publication of all sorts of newspapers, these same guys in power today encouraged their media collaborators to engage in all kinds of wild and reckless attacks on serving members of the then erstwhile PNDC. This continued into the first mandate of the NDC. Initial appeals by government officials at the time for more responsibility to be exercised by media practitioners were countered with taunts that if they had any case they should seek legal redress.

When the patience of the affected officials ran out and they started dragging some journalists to court, the current NPP officials and their close allies understandably raised hell accusing the NDC of attempting to kill the freedom of the press and re-introducing the previous culture of silence. Aware of the negative consequences of seeking legal redress at the least opportunity on the nation's nascent and fledging democracy, the NDC government advised its functionaries to instead resort to a redress through the media commission.

What is the situation now that the NPP is in power?

Are they using the media commission to resolve their problems? No. At the least opportunity, they rush to the court and while cases against pro-government papers take an eternity, they orchestrate for swift adjudication and of course get the verdicts they desire. The results are the unprecedented huge fines that are being slapped on various newspapers. The intention is clear to anyone with the least discernment- to kill the newspapers in question.

The recent dawn raid on the house of the editor of the Ghana Palaver brings this issue to a head. There is no way anyone can rationalise the armed police ransacking of the property of Jojo Bruce Quansah at the ungodly hour of three o?clock in the morning. Jojo is no fugitive from justice. No matter what the case might be, the President?s brother and the police have no justification for the action taken last Friday dawn. Especially given that the President?s brother is in no need of television sets and a tico car. The agenda then becomes clear- killing the Ghana Palaver newspaper.

This government has been rightly labelled as a government that in spite of its proclamations to the contrary has shown that it has a zero tolerance for criticism. Their aim is clearly to wage an unrelenting war on the critical media with a view to forcing opposing voices to back off. But they will surely fail because there is no power in the whole universe that can repress the determined and irrepressible human spirit.

Jojo Bruce Quansah and the Ghana Palaver will not be daunted. The critical voices in the media will not be moved. The government and its media-killing schemers can do their worst. For the sake of Ghana's good, the positive job of keeping the government in check will continue in spite of all the dangers.

All lovers of democracy must condemn this most dangerous incident, which threatens the very foundations of a genuine pluralistic media in the country.